Just in case Charlton Heston portraying Moses wasn’t enough, a couple of new faith-based films are being released in time for Passover and Easter. But, before you leave home for the nearest lounge-chair, reserved-seat theatre, check your local listings. It seems that the movie, “Noah,” which hasn’t even opened yet, already has been banned in three Arab nations. Why? Because, according to Reuters, it allegedly conflicts with the teachings of Islam.
When I first heard of this censorship, I rolled my eyes. Seriously? I find it hard to believe that the retelling of the story of Noah, the building of the Ark, the flooding of the earth, and the arrival of the dove with the olive branch in its beak (Genesis 6:9-11:32) could be told in a way that would offend anyone. After all, I fondly remember Bill Cosby doing his “Noah” shtick in a way that was funny, a tad irreverent, but spot on. (Click here for a trip down memory lane.) Nobody banned Bill!
As the day wore on, however, I remembered my own reactions when Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” was released in 2004. Initially I refused to even consider seeing the movie, but eventually I went. From that point on, however, I boycotted everything having to do with Gibson. Did Mel have a right to his opinion about what happened to Jesus? He certainly did. Do I have the right to believe that the situation unfolded differently? I definitely do. In part, I objected to how Gibson depicted Jews in the film, and told everyone I knew to avoid seeing it. But upon closer reflection, I realize that I mostly became incensed by his anti-Semitic slurs and behaviors both before and after the production was released. Having a different perspective is one thing, but being a “Jew-hater” is another.
My personal take-away from all of this? There are multiple sides to and interpretations of every tale; especially if there are no cold, hard facts to rely upon. As such, everyone is entitled to have his or her own ideas about the meanings or lessons being conveyed. Information (through books, films, the internet, etc.) should be made available to the public (i.e. not censored – unless required due to age limitations); however, people also should have the right to choose whether or not they wish to avail themselves of it.
In the case of faith-based stories, I think it’s important to hear and to try to understand a different viewpoint in a non-judgmental way. It is only through uncensored, open, and honest communications that we can hope to promote understanding and tolerance between different races, ethnicities, and religions. No one has a monopoly on “the truth.”
I’m interested in seeing “Noah.” The computer graphics of the Ark and the flood promise to be amazing!