‘Noah’ finally debuts in theaters after lots of controversy. How accurate is it?


Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe in a scene from “Noah.” (Niko Tavernise/AP/Paramount Pictures)

After a long, bumpy journey, Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic “Noah” finally makes its premiere in theaters this weekend.

Given that the film has been upsetting religious groups since it started production due to its portrayal of the Bible story, it’s likely to spur even more controversy once people have, you know, actually seen the movie. (Though it has already been banned in several countries for its depiction of a prophet.) Star Russell Crowe, always a charmer, blames the negative buzz on people judging the film prematurely.

“We have endured 12 to 14 months of irrational criticism and now people are starting to see it and to realize how respectful it is, and how true to the source material it is and how intense of an experience it is in the movie theater,” Crowe told the AP.

So — how true to the source material is the highly-anticipated, $150 million film? Here’s a fact-check of some of the main elements in the film:

Meanwhile, many critics seem to be impressed by Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream,” “Black Swan”), some saying that the project indeed respects the biblical tale.

“The result is a movie that is clearly deeply respectful of its source material but also at times startlingly revisionist,” wrote The Post’s Ann Hornaday, “A go-for-broke throwback to Hollywood biblical epics of yore that combines grandeur and grace, as well as a generous dollop of goofy overstatement.” Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times agrees, calls the film not only respectful but “reverential,” and “as much a fantasia inspired by the Old Testament as a literal retelling of that tale.”

Over at the Dallas Morning News, critic Chris Vognar says the film “breaks a story of cosmic dimensions into brutally human terms,” and that it isn’t afraid to go to dark. “Over the years, the public imagination has turned the tale of Noah’s Ark into a sort of childhood fable,” he writes. “It’s actually a story of apocalypse engineered by a God who decides he wants to wipe out mankind and start afresh.”

…And then there are others who call Aronofsky’s version of Noah an “environmentalist wacko” panicking over ancient global warming. But when controversy known to hurt the box office? Not often — and that’s really always the bottom line.

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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Emily Yahr | March 28