I’m probably late to the party with this but I noticed (in the Church Times online if you must know) that Tony Jordan who scripted the Nativity that was shown on the BBC last year is starting on a version of the Old Testament story of Noah.
What was quite extraordinary about his Nativity was how well scripted it was and how well it got inside the life of first century life and was able to present it so powerfully to modern audiences.
There seems to be two ways that most film makers go when they film the bible. It’s either to go very reverential and rather sickly or they attack it and what it is really trying to say. The great thing about Tony Jordan was the way that he got outside of the comfy re-telling loved of nativity plays and really brought a drama to the screen of real impact.
Already I think that he is looking to do an interesting interpretation of the story:
The script, which has yet to be written, will focus on Noah’s “faith” in building the ark rather than on dramatic recreations of the deluge itself, he said. “I’m going to stop the moment it starts raining. To me, it’s not about the flood and the animals two-by-two. It’s about one man having faith that something is about to happen, and no one else’s believing him. It’s the man with the sandwich board saying ‘The End is Nigh — we’re all doomed’, and being ridiculed for it. “Physically, I don’t know how I’m going to do that. But what it means is that I’m more interested in writing a Noah that people will love, and believe in, and understand rather than what everyone else seems to be fixated with: two ducks waddling up a gangplank.”
The film is aimed at being an hour and a half long and he is pulling the ideas from around the place which is what you need to do for something like Noah with little dialogue in the actual story. Sometimes that has meant that people have taken that free reign to mess about with the essentials of the story, however I think that Tony Jordan will probably get the essentials right.
I also am interested in him stopping with the first drops of rain. To focus on the faith of someone standing against the prevailing culture of his day and appearing deluded has great echoes today when the pressure to conform is so strong.
I was also struck by what he would like to do later on, especially a re-working of the Passion.
Noah is not the only biblical story on Mr Jordan’s horizon. He is also planning a big-screen reworking of the Passion (“a contemporary piece, with Christ coming back”), among other Bible stories for the BBC. Ultimately, he wanted to reconnect Bible stories with ordinary, un-churched people, he explained.
Tony Jordan has shown what he can do with the Nativity and I for one am really looking forward to other pieces of work that he brings out. He handles the bible with deftness and integrity whilst also ensuring that it isn’t sickly sweet.