Noah, the biblical saga by Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, has been refused a license to screen by censors in several Middle Eastern countries.
The epic, starring Russell Crowe in the lead with Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson in supporting roles, is getting the cold shoulder from authorities in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates
The film, due to be released in North America at the end of March, already had Christian groups concerned when Aronofsky said his story would be a loose retelling instead of a literal account of Noah and the flood.
In Egypt, where the movie is due to be released on March 26th, a Sunni Muslim organization called Al-Azhar said it objects to the film because it “contradicts the stature of prophets and messengers…and antagonizes the faithful.”
Paramount, which produced Noah, took the unusual step of screening about half-a-dozen of its own cuts of the film to test audiences.
Aronofsky told The Hollywood Reporter that it “upset" him. However, the studio decided in the end to go with Aronofsky’s version.
“The controversy is all about the unknown and about the fear of people trying to exploit a Bible story," Aronofsky told Variety magazine. “It will all disappear as soon as people start seeing the film.”
He added that the movie is made for “believers and non-believers.”
In its marketing, Paramount is adding this disclaimer:
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”