Darren, "NOAH" & Lemonade For Sale
This past weekend, we celebrated Eliana’s 5th birthday with an early birthday party (1), with presents and school friends at a location that didn’t require us to do any clean up afterwards. Also taking place on the same weekend, Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” was released to the public. Noah, the film, is based on the life of Noah, a man written in the book of Genesis. Because of the party, wifey and I weren’t able to see the movie but even beforehand, it wasn’t on my “NEED TO SEE THIS LIST” like some other films (2).
I say that because many friends of mine and people I know in religious circles, were excited for NOAH before the movie was released. There were a couple of factors connected to their excitement such as: the fact the Bible was going to be on the big screen (3), that it was supported by well known churches, and that it stared Maximus (4), certainly had to get people excited, right? Yet, as with most things, people got their cake (the film) but complained that it wasn’t gluten-free (This isn’t the NOAH of the BIBLE! God is crying! Why are their ROCK people! I missed March Madness for this!).
Now I love art. I love cinema. I love great screenplays. I love twisty plots as much as a I love predictable stories. I love amazing direction. And I love how storytellers tell stories based on how they see the story. And with that said the best stories, in my opinion, shouldn’t be commercials for anyone’s faith or belief, but simply tell story and allow viewers to leave with an impression on their minds and a story to tell. The best stories do this.
The director of Noah is a story teller. All of Aronofsky’s well-known films are personal, indie budget, dark character pieces that study the pain of addiction (Requiem for a Dream), personal loss (The Wrestler) and success (Black Swan). Each has a person (or two) who's aiming to get somewhere but ends up with nothing. His movies don’t end happily. Ever. Why he chose Noah, a big budget story knowing that Christians all over the world North America would kill him if he got the story “wrong”? I don't know. Seems like a dumb idea. But he did. And here’s what I choose to do with his film, whether I see it now or on TV during Easter time when they play God movies:
Talk about it.
Rather than go online and tell people to not see it because it’s not the "Bible", I’d tell them to see it and then try to have some coffees and cannolis with them to talk it out (5). I mean there is always lemonade to enjoy when a lemon is thrown. And as a Christian, I have to start developing an "art eye" alongside my “Don’t Mess Up My Story” eye. We can’t spend a full Sunday loving and live tweet one mini-series because we love it (The mini-series I'm mentioning is The Bible. "Secular" critics hated it and instead pointed to the original Jesus of Nazareth mini-series from long ago as the standard) and then hate tweet this film (The same "secular"critics hated this movie too, so don’t blame mainstream press for this one! The found it detached and big, but not deep.). We need to invite people to read the story for themselves and see the “holes” or “artistic licenses” and spend time talking about it with them.
And if we REALLY hate the movie, rather than complaining get some friends together and make a film! Tell the story as you see it! But I guarantee you this: someone will think your films sucks. Someone will say you missed out on a a key moment or overplayed something else. Someone will say your Jesus wasn’t Jesus-y enough or something else. Someone else will say, “If I made that movie…” (6)
And on and on it goes…knowing that in two weeks from now, no one will care about Noah (the movie…maybe even the real guy) because we’ve moved on the the next thing we like/don’t like…
Well...Back to the idea of lemons and lemonade: While Ellie’s party was on the go and Noah dominated FB and Twitter, something else was dominating the world. It was more important than the movie and slightly less than the party. Yup, MARCH MADNESS!! (7) The tourney was rounding down to the final four teams and tensions were HIGH! And because it’s a televised event hosted by one sponsor, there are rules on how you can show highlights (lemons). Most sports news telecasts would simply show photographs or read out the scores (concede and complain, especially when you can find stuff online) but one TV group in Florida did something else. Check out the video below. These guys should win an award!
These guys chose right. They made lemonade and built on the story.
Hopefully we work on doing the same.
Because if you think NOAH is bad, wait until Nic Cage releases LEFT BEHIND in May...
1. The earlier the party, the freer the rest of the day.
2. While everyone was reaching for Noah, I was finally watching Gravity. I now fear the day when the zombies force us to colonize in space and then everythng goes wrong. It's like all of my nightmares are building into one cluster bomb of hate. All narrated by Michael Fassbender in his 12 Years a Slave voice. Dang.
3. Lesson: NEVER. TRUST. TRAILERS. EVER.
4. I guess you were 'not entertained', eh? See what I did there? Okay, I'll see myself out...
5. In fact, this post was inspired by two friends of our we connected with at my cousin's mom-in-law's 70th birthday party. Knowing that I was a pastor, they were curious to know my thoughts on the film. When I told them I hadn't seen it yet but had read enough critiques to know how it was received, we had a great conversation about the movie, belief and art. They mentioned that in their opinion, the director was stuck in a tough box because on either side, people would be after blood (There's not enough God!!!! We need an atheist movie!!!).
6. As I wrote that paragraph, I couldn't help but think of so many pastors who deal with the same criticism week in and out by people who "know more" but should "know better". These men and women choose topics and aim to bring out points to serve their people, yet there is always a person or a people who didn't think it was Strong/Deep/Articulate/Intellectual/Spirit-Led/Honest/Harsh/Grace-filled enough...
7. Still heartbroken over the Wolverines getting knocked out on a perfect shot by Harrison of the ONE and DONE Kentucky Wildcats. Long live the Madness. Question: Has this been the best NCAA tournament you've seen so far? #GOBLUE!!!