Epic creative tension

Hollywood is rediscovering the Bible. (You can read about it here.) They have this to say:

Hollywood has the best storytellers. And religion has the best stories.

Well, OK. And then there’s this:

There’s creative interpretation that goes into things that aren’t directly addressed in the underlying material, and so you always run the risk that people take exception to those stories.

Bingo.

Is it possible to please “those eager for a faith-based film” and “those searching for a ‘popcorn’ movie” with the same movie? What a challenge. Which asset should you honor — the storytelling, or the story? When the story serves the telling, it’s time for popcorn. But what if the story is true? What if it’s history? What if “creatively interpreting” the story misleads or brings harm to the viewer? Is that still good storytelling?

Some stories are sacred, and taking liberties violates them. Is it wrong for faith-based viewers to take exception to violated stories? On the flip side, honoring sacred stories often offends the popcorn audience because sacred stories pack a punch, whether conviction or outrage. Not what most people look for in a movie.

Moviegoers will soon get to see Russell Crowe playing Noah. The story of Noah involves the destruction of nearly every person on earth. (You can read that story in the Bible — see chapters 6-9 of Genesis.) How would you resolve the creative tension of telling Noah’s story? Would Mr. Crowe still want to play Noah? Who would pay money to see it? Would they leave the theater satisfied? Or convicted?

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