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Thursday, October 20, 2016

By John Horn, Los Angeles Times

MEXICO CITY — A lot of people think they know what the real story of the movie “Noah” should be.

They are likely some of the same people who think they know what the real story of the man Noah is.

Darren Aronofsky, the director of the new movie about the man and the great flood, is ready to rain on what he believes is their misinformed parade.

“Noah has been turned into a nursery school story,” said the director and co-writer of “Noah,” which had its world premiere in Mexico City on Monday night. “And it’s not a nursery school story in the Bible. It’s the end of the world.”

Rarely in recent years has a movie generated as much polarizing opinion before its release as “Noah,” a $130-million drama set to arrive in U.S. theaters on March 28. The film stars Russell Crowe as the man who builds a giant ark as God wipes a sinful mankind from the planet; Jennifer Connelly plays his wife, Naameh, with Anthony Hopkins as his grandfather, Methuselah.

The movie is the target of a fatwa from a leading Egyptian Sunni Muslim institution because Noah is mentioned in the Koran and therefore not suitable for artistic depiction. Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have banned the film, with other Middle Eastern countries expected to follow. Closer to home, where in theory there is more religious tolerance, “Noah” has already been attacked by the Christian right for its creative license.

Paramount Pictures, which co-financed “Noah” with New Regency and is distributing the film, believes much of the censure has come from people who haven’t seen the film and were responding to secondhand accounts of an outdated screenplay.

One conservative Christian organization, the National Religious Broadcasters, threatened to boycott the film unless Paramount put out a marketing disclaimer. Without telling Aronofsky, the studio decided to modify advertising materials by saying the movie was “inspired by” the story of Noah rather than be seen as literal scripture.