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ROME – Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe has been lobbying to get Pope Francis to agree to watch his new biblical adventure story, Noah. But there is little sign that the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics will comply.
Religious audiences have been split in their views on the megabudget Darren Aronofsky production, which will hit cinemas in the U.S. March 28 and come to Italy two weeks later. Paramount Pictures says that more than four out of five religious moviegoers say they are interested in seeing the film, but some Christian groups say it strays too far from the biblical story in an effort to make it more palatable for the big screen.
Crowe used social media in his lobby effort, tweeting to the pope that the film’s message is “powerful, fascinating, resonant” and, in another message, calling on his 1.37 million Twitter followers to use their own tweets to cajole Francis into watching the film.
The Vatican did not directly respond to Crowe’s lobbying efforts, but Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, when asked if the pontiff would see Stephen Frears‘ Oscar-nominated Philomena — which is critical of the church’s one-time handling of children born to single mothers — said the pope does not watch films.
If true, that contradicts assertions from a story that broke last year in which Francis told an Italian interviewer he enjoyed classic Italian films from directors including Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, and Luchino Visconti, and that he would take a look at two new films recommended by interviewer Eugenio Scalfari: Ettore Scola‘s Fellini homage, How Strange to Be Called Federico, Scola Talks About Fellini (Che strano chiamarsi Federico, Scola racconta Fellini), and the political comedy Viva la liberta from Roberto Ando.
Crowe, who plays the title role in the film, won an Oscar in 2000 for Gladiator, which was set in ancient Rome.
Noah will be the first Aronofsky film in more than a dozen years not to have its world premiere in Italy: Black Swan, The Wrestler, and The Fountain all premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
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