"Noah" Versus Kitschy Jesus Pix: What Movie Did Justice to the Christian Myth

This discussion is in the "Philosophy" category because I often write within the aesthetic aspect of that general area. I also believe aesthetics in the final analysis boil down to one's personal taste. Criticism is thus a futile, mostly worthless pursuit, but I am "only human." At www.religiousdispatches.org there is a discussion of the controversy surrounding the movie, Noah, which is beating out the evangelicalesque Son of God movie hands down, showing not so much a sophistication in these matters by the audience of predominantly Christian believers as a willingness to be exposed to use of the Buy Bull to say something about Man in relation to the environment in the present time. Yes, of course Noah (to judge by the trailer and clips shown on talk shows) is heavily laden with computer generated images: the director, Darren Aronofsky, worked closely with Industrial Light and Magic (according to a portrait of the filmmaker in a national magazine) in supervising the digital reality that backs up the actors and with which they seem to intermingle.

Far rightwing religious critics of the film object to such things as failure to once mention "God" in the entire film, saying instead, "the Creator," which would seem to be more in keeping with the religion of the Founding Fathers who were deists than to the current brand of Christian. These are the same people who trot out David Barton on Fox and at political action committee meetings to explain that because Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin were devout evangelicals, the U. S. Constitution should be interpreted "according to Biblical law." And as the Roman Church is constantly reminding us, erroneously, Biblical law is "natural law." How dare Aronofsky call his film Noah and show the eponymous protagonist getting drunk instead of falling on his knees, looking skyward (at the sky) and saying, "O, thank you Jeeee-zus! Thank you Lord! I couldn't have done it without you Lord, as I am a spineless, frightened, fearful believer, Lord, a True Believer." Perhaps this Noah is well aware that the only god there is is the one between his ears. Perhaps he is listening to the voice of his own mind, just as did George W. Bush when he attempted to justify the Iraqi incursion by claiming, in so many words, "God told me to invade." Noah asks us to see the climatic catastrophe going on about us. God is the entire physical cosmos -- in our brain.

Stills: Pasolini; Enrique Irazoqui as Christ; the "kiss in the Garden"

At some point in the Dispatches discussion, I posited that it was ironic that the director of the most "accurate" depiction of Jesus was the Marxist atheist Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose Gospel According to Saint Matthew was an art house favorite years ago. Pasolini's Jesus is an androgynous, gentle, dark-haired, brown-eyed youth, the exact opposite of what we encounter in 20th and 21st century depictions, not to mention those of the Renaissance, though not those of Mattias Grunewald as Isenheim. Eventually, I commented: "The irony is that the current pope comes closer than any in memory to paying (lip?) service to the ideals espoused by the mythical Jesus. When asked about his making of Gospel, Pasolini admitted "I have a nostalgia for religion." I think he meant that he had a nostalgia for the time in his life that he could actually believe and, with that, had a passion for the ideals of, e.g. the Sermon on the Mount. C'est moi.

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