Racism storm as 'Noah' writer denies all-white cast is 'racist'
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 17 April 2014
One of the writers of Hollywood blockbuster Noah has shrugged off complaints over the lack of diversity among its cast, saying the film did not want to end up with “a Benetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise”.
Ari Handel, who co-wrote the film adaptation of Noah alongside director Darren Aronofsky, responded to the recent wave of criticism over the all-white cast, saying they represented all people. “The race of the individuals doesn’t matter,” he said.
The film, which stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly and Emma Watson, has taken $248.7 million around the world so far, according to Box Office Mojo. It was released in the UK earlier this month.
Noah met with a fair share of controversy before its release as it was banned in countries including Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.
It also received criticism in the US for taking liberties with the story of the man chosen by what the film calls “the Creator” to build an ark ahead of a flood sent to wipe out humanity.
Yet after it was released, the film faced criticism over its lack of diversity. Episcopal priest Wil Gafney complained, saying: “In this version of Noah, black people do not exist.”
She added: “I hoped that at least there would be some beige people in the movie, but there was no one visibly of colour.”
Mr Handel responded to the charges in an interview with Christian website The High Calling: “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.”
“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'."
To pull the film up on the issue of race would be the same as asking whether the ark would float and could it fit all the species of animal inside, he continued.
“That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.”
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