Noah is 'true to the spirit of the Bible' - Jennifer Connelly
Paramount's $125 million blockbuster Noah is set to hit cinemas in the next few weeks, and has already received its fair share of controversy.
Faith groups have expressed concern about biblical accuracy, while it has been banned in several Muslim countries for its depiction of Noah, a prophet in the Koran - something that is forbidden in Islam.
In response to allegations that the film is not an accurate retelling of the biblical story, Paramount agreed to add a disclaimer to its marketing materials, stating that, "While artistic license has been taken, we believe this story is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide".
Many have come out in support of this decision. Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone thanked Paramount for "taking steps to respect, connect with and reach out to the core faith audience of this film".
Christian film review site Movieguide also commended the move, noting that it reveals the "good will on Paramount's side to reach and work with the Christian evangelical community [and] is a testament of the positive steps toward uplifting entertainment that are being made in Hollywood".
Although Director Darren Aronofksy has proudly declared that his film is the "least biblical movie ever made", actress Jennifer Connelly, who plays Noah's wife Naamah in the movie, has now joined the debate and sees it differently.
In an interview on Good Morning America on Thursday 20 March, Connelly said: "While [Noah] is very creative, very bold and very complex, it really is true to the spirit of the story in the Bible.
"I think what you'll find is that the controversy was generated by people who were speculating or hadn't seen the film yet, for the most part, and we're now getting feedback from religious leaders who have seen the film and are embracing and supporting it."
Dr Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide, discussed the controversy with Christian Today and supported Connelly's assertions.
"What we're concerned about is how the movie sits with biblical principles," he said.
"People don't realise that movies are stories, almost like Jesus telling parables. You take the stories and then it's important to ask 'does this story agree with the biblical worldview, or does it disagree with it?'
"Noah agrees with the biblical worldview. It says man is fallen, man is a sinner, God is sovereign and a judge, and we need to repent. It just also has a lot of stupid stuff in it too. It's got some silly characters – how they got rock monsters into Noah I don't know – but that's not crucial to the biblical element."
Dr Baehr contends that we must be discerning in what we choose to see at the cinema, but whatever our personal decision, Christians must be prepared to discuss the film.
"This is just so silly; I'm just grateful that there are people making movies that get people talking about the Bible and that are complementary to biblical principles," he says.
It appears that Pope Francis might not be so keen on the film, however. Russell Crowe has been lobbying on social media for an audience with the head of the Catholic Church ahead of the film's release, but was unable to secure a private meeting.
Instead, he, Aronofsky and several other film executives had to make do with being part of the general audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, and have thus not received official papal endorsement.
This is perhaps unsurprising. Pope Francis' press officer contends that he does not watch films, though he did agree to a meeting with Philomena Lee and the makers of the Oscar-nominated film based on her life story last month.
Crowe nonetheless doesn't seem too bothered by the snub and enjoyed his time in Rome, tweeting that it was a "privilege", and thanking the Pope "for [his] blessing".
Noah is due for release in the US on March 28 and April 4 in the UK.