"It's wrong when you talk about the Noah story to talk about it in that type of believer-nonbeliever way because I think it's one of humanity's oldest stories," he says. "It belongs not just in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. Everyone on the planet knows the Noah story."
The Genesis story is only a few pages, with more details on the dimensions of the ark (which Aronofsky held to) than who Noah was. He's instructed by God — "grieved" in his heart by what mankind had become generations after creation — to build an ark and fill it with two of every animal. After the flood, Noah is referred to as drunk and then banishes his son, Ham — all clues for Aronofsky on the pain of Noah's burden.
Paramount sought the approval of religious leaders, consulting with Biblical scholars in pre-production and doing extensive test screenings (during which Aronofsky and Paramount feuded over the final cut before an apparent truce).
But early criticism bubbled up online based on what Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore says is an old, unused version of the script (which Aronofsky penned with Ari Handel).
"It has been a very interesting journey," says Moore. "It's been highly chronicled along the way, much of which was based upon either speculation or hearsay or old information."
After seeing the film, Jerry A. Johnson, president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters, urged Paramount to advertise the film with a disclaimer. Moore acquiesced, adding a warning that "artistic license has been taken."
"Darren, as an artist, had some sensitivity about what that meant in terms of what we were saying the movie was or wasn't ahead of time, versus letting people experience it for themselves," says Moore. "But there was such a group of people who had concern about it."