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A survey of pre-code movies is an excellent antidote to much of the nonsense we sometimes hear about “old-fashioned morality.” Our grandparents’ generation is sometimes said to have lived in a more innocent time, before America went to Hell in a handbasket and began abandoning traditional morality. But it turns out our grandparents were lining up at the box office to see movies like She Couldn’t Say No or The Unholy Three. Those pre-code movies are a good reminder that much of what gets glibly described as “traditional morality” was actually really, really immoral. I don’t just mean that people back then were titillated by stories they regarded as immoral. That’s always been true and probably always will be true. That’s the transgressive allure of the lurid, and there’s a sense in which it does as much to reinforce the prevailing morality as any moral code. When moral codes codify immorality

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There was a scene in the film where Noah was reading the beginnings of Genesis to his family on the Ark as the torrential downpour had just began. As he was reading, there’s an incredible illustration of the world being formed from the beginning – however, the way it’s illustrated is awfully similar to the proto-planetary hypothesis in its display of the big bang and the formation of Earth from resultant rock bits and collisions from asteroids and the later appearance of the ocean and tectonic processes. This scene was so immensely potent because it essentially resolved (IMO) the idea that Genesis and the scientific account can coexist and achieve syncretism – but on a deeper level, for me at least, it revealed the divinity intrinsic in even the most exacting scientific account of the world’s formation. Scientific laws, theorems and properties often have very poetic rings to them – “Energy is neither created nor destroyed” , we call this science- but that’s ART! Political Jesus

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From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, ‘Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.’ Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, ‘Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?’ That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane. "Noah" Screenwriter Ari Handel

More suffering comes into the world by people taking offense than by people intending to give offense. Ken Keyes

My strongest impression of “Grand Budapest” is that of all the Wes Anderson films out there, this one is the Wessiest. In an alternate reality in which all movies are like Wes Anderson movies, this is the one that was made by the reality’s own version of Wes Anderson. Andy Ihnatko

What I’d tell people is it’s very important to us that nothing we actually did directly contradicted the Genesis story. There are some places where people think we did, and I’d just say, “We didn’t.” It was all grounded somewhere. It wasn’t just the Genesis story the way you expected it. But it’s grounded. Anything we did that isn’t explicitly there isn’t arbitrary. There are themes in the Genesis story that we wanted to dramatize and make people empathize with. It’s there for a reason. I hope people go into it open-minded. When they see things they don’t expect, roll with it a little bit. And see how you feel about the film [Noah] afterward. What we want the film to make you think about is the core question of Genesis: The nature of goodness and wickedness in men’s heart, and whether that should be responded to with justice or mercy, the relationship between mankind and the world around him to the sacred. Those are the questions we grappled with. Ari Handel

We are emerging from the bloodiest century of recorded human history, where atheistic ideology, moral relativism and religious sectarianism have wreaked more global devastation than anything imaginable in Genesis. And yet, I am hopeful, that the story line is due for a different sort of Arc, one in which we find common ground in the community of our humanity and together taking a stand against our will to power and violence, protecting and celebrating our differences; all elements of good story telling and all absent from Noah. With all our offensive wall building and unwillingness to ask questions of our own traditions, it seems we have lost the plot. While we sometimes forget that every translation and every commentary and every sermon are creative expressions of the text, Christian theology not only leaves room for and invites creativity, it also defines the essential nature of every human being as imaginative co-creators. William Paul Young

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This difference between Gnosticism and Kabbalah is especially clear if we look at what Aronofsky has done with the movie Noah. Instead of condemning the created world as an illusion imposed on us by an evil Creator, Aronofsky’s film celebrates the created world and, through its protagonist, suggests that the animals are “innocent” in a way that humans are not. Indeed, many conservatives have complained that the film loves the rest of the created world so much that it is fundamentally “anti-human”. Put simply: Gnosticism hates Creation. Aronofsky’s Noah loves Creation. So whatever else you might say about Aronofsky’s film, it is not Gnostic. No, Noah is not Gnostic. (Say that ten times fast!)

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As the credits rolled, I found myself once again in the all-too-familiar position of being perplexed by the very Evangelical community with whom I identify. Noah was a great film. It was epic, captivating, and imaginative in all the right ways. Even the much-maligned “artistic license” Aronofsky used had to do with portions of the biblical text that are simply ambiguous or downright baffling (e.g. the Nephilim of Gen 6). Sure, he emphasized certain unexplored elements of the Noah story in order to flesh out the protagonist’s central struggle and to create a dramatic arch that works well in cinematic form. But at the end of the day, Aronofsky very much succeeded in making a God-affirming, creation-affirming, and even faith-affirming film. Missing the Boat: Christian Cultural Engagement and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah

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