Indonesian Director Takes Aim at ‘Narrow-Minded’ Censor Over ‘Noah’ Ban

By Camelia Pasandaran on 03:08 pm Mar 25, 2014
New Zealand-born Australian actor Russell Crowe poses for a photo in front of a Russian billboard for the biblical epic film 'Noah' in Moscow, on March 17, 2014. The 49-year old Oscar-winning actor arrived in Moscow to promote his new movie "Noah" banned in some Arab countries. (AFP Photo/Yury Samolygo)

New Zealand-born Australian actor Russell Crowe poses for a photo in front of a Russian billboard for the biblical epic film ‘Noah’ in Moscow, on March 17, 2014. (AFP Photo/Yury Samolygo)

Jakarta. Respected Indonesian film director Joko Anwar criticized the country’s Film Censorship Board (LSF) on Tuesday for its “narrow-minded” decision to ban Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming movie “Noah” on the grounds that it showed a depiction of an Islamic prophet.

“If there is a fear that the film will cause unrest and protest from some groups then the government should create a situation conducive to people growing up instead of always limiting them to a narrow-minded condition,” the award-winning director “Pintu Terlarang(“Forbidden Door”) and “Kala” told the Jakarta Globe.

The film-censorship board banned the showing of “Noah,” on Monday, making Indonesia the latest Muslim-majority nation to censor the film on the grounds that it showed an image of Noah — a Koranic prophet. The movie has already been banned in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The censorship board defended its decision on Monday, explaining that the film was against religious teachings and values. The body reached the conclusion on its own and in no way was influenced by decisions made by some countries in the Middle East, Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi, a member of the board, told the Indonesian news portal Detik.com.

“We have our own authority,” Zainut said. “We adjust it in accordance with society’s values which uphold religious and unity values. We won’t just follow in the footsteps of another country.”

The chairman of the censorship board said the story presented in “Noah” ran counter to the relevant verses in the Koran.

“There are many considerations,” Mukhlis Paeni told the Indonesian news portal Merdeka.com on Monday. “The first thing is the content of Noah is against our beliefs or not according to the story in the holy book.”

Joko dismissed the complaints, explaining that banning a movie like “Noah” would have little actual impact on Indonesian moviegoers’ ability to watch the film.

“We don’t need to get worried about a movie which they claim might corrupt religious teachings,” Joko said. “Nowadays, with the easy access to YouTube, banning a movie is a waste of effort. Secondly, if we are talking about film, we should see it as a work of art. Art is an interpretation of the filmmaker, so it should not be banned.”

The Indonesian censorship board isn’t the first group to take offense with Aronofsky’s depiction of the story of Noah. The film, which the director described as “the least biblical biblical film ever made,” in an interview with London’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, has attracted the ire of Christians in the US and the UK over Russell Crowe’s turn as the Old Testament figure.

The film was scheduled for release in Indonesia on Friday but has been pulled from theater schedules.

The decision, in all likelihood, will do little to prevent the movie from being viewed in the Muslim-majority nation. Indonesian authorities are notoriously weak on the enforcement of copyright law and down-market malls throughout the capital are well stocked with bootleg DVDs of Western films, including titles such as Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist” and Steve McQueen’s “Shame” that would probably raise eyebrows at the censorship board.

  • Lone Wolf

    It’s a Movie. ! ..a fictional movie of an event that never actually happened. None of Shakespeare’s play’s are Factual….wanna ban them ? Sorry, but The E.T. Movie is Fiction…..it did not actually happen. Neither did Batmam or Ben Hur. OK ? How you can be offended by fiction is insulted your own intelligence. .

    • MadWorld

      Having no intelligence is the divine right the Film Censorship Board

    • billy

      proove the fiction part about noah m8!!!!
      some facts???

      • Lone Wolf

        Are you Serious Billy ? Prove that 5,000 years ago a “300 year old” man built a boat to hold all the worlds animals and prove that there was no world flood that wiped out all human species except the one family chosen by this very cruel, murdering god ? prove that ? There was also no Moby Dick or Hercules.

        So, 5,000 years ago the entire world population was wiped out ? And survived only by an incestuous family. that we are all related to ? Did remarkably well after that eh ? I’m afraid I have nothing to prove as it never happened. You have to prove it to yourself my friend.

        Anyhow : http://www.biblicalnonsense.com/chapter6.html

      • Lone Wolf

        I did reply Billy, but it was obviously Censored. Sorry.

    • Max Headroom

      Lone Wolf – I actually thought that Shakespeare is censored/banned in Indonesia – I never saw a single book of/about him in the shelves of Gramedia – however I could find loads of rather offensive religious (of “THE” religion) literature on the shelves, plenty of them spelling in big letters Jihad, etc.

  • http://al-terity.blogspot.com/ Alterity

    “Shame would probably raise eyebrows”. I doubt it. Although Eager Beavers 7 (available at Glodok) might be more to their taste.

  • Good,Bad and Ugly

    Stupidity and religion go hand in hand.

    • David Horovitz

      You forgot the word “ignorance”

  • aussierules4ever

    Really? The bloody Jakarta Globe is outraged by censorship? Another fine example of “do as I say and not as I do.” Next the Globe will be giving us two sides to a story instead of the usual one they prefer. Bloody hell, I know this getting posted has about the same chance as my taxi whisking me on time, from one side of town to the other, on a Saturday evening, during the rainy season. But I wrote it anyway with the hope freedom of reasonable speach will one day be respected by the bloody editor at the Globe. :D

    • jaytee

      seriously??? the person who is outraged by censorship is Joko Anwar and his outrage is being reported in an article by JG’s staff Camelia Pasandaran, it’s not even an editorial piece

      if it’s a bloody newspapers, why are you here spending time reading and commenting, what does that make you???

  • David Horovitz

    Censorship Board? I have never seen so many movies in Indonesia with violence that is unbearable and they let the kids watch all of that and become conditioned to it and desensitised. They see people being shot and then getting up and walking away and we know just how much it hurts if you stub your little toe. They censor the wrong things. Also I believe the story of Noah happened some 5,000 years before the advent of Islam. Also I don’t see why they put little clouds over people’s lips when they kiss in movies. I think my being on earth might have started with a kiss of Mum and Dad. I have to laugh sometimes. And little clouds over plunging necklines. The censors should run around the Jakarta malls with little clouds on sticks covering up the plunging necklines of the girls that walk around there. Censorship here is a joke.

    • jaytee

      ‘Also I believe the story of Noah happened some 5,000 years before the advent of Islam’

      but Noah is a prophet of Islam and muslims claim the Jewish and Christian prophets as theirs as well and they add a few of their own.

      I believe you’d know that the story of Noah in the Jewish, Christian and Islam holy books never happened, how could it??

      Rain for 40 days and nights that covered the earth, what happened to the plants, marine mamals, fish etc.??? There are fresh water fish varieties in South America but not in other parts of the world for example, you would have expected these fish varieties would be in every continent
      of the world wouldn’t you???

      with breeding pairs in the ark, you’d have the inherent risk of having future animal stock forever
      cursed with genetic problems from the inbreeding necessarily required
      when you restock from just one breeding pair, hmmm of course these ancient people wouldn’t know this

      The story was plagiarised from the Epic of Gilgamesh which was plagiarised from chaldean flood tablets, some say

  • Ryan

    Banning this film will be a sign of limitation of freedom. Movie is a expression of human idea, and that’s okay for me. IF they understand their holy bible, surely Muslims won’t get affected if there are any misleadings statements or scenes in the movie. Remember, kids will never learn if they are confined in a limited point of view. So, watch everything, right or wrong, and then discuss what is wrong and what is right. THAT will make people learn. NOT by banning movies that clashes with beliefs.

  • weegie-boy

    “government should create a situation conducive to people growing up instead of always limiting them to a narrow-minded condition” my thoughts exactly. Well said Mr Anwar.

    Censorship in this country is just a joke. It’s perfectly ok to show cigarette adverts knowing that smoking kills and many youngsters now do so too, yet to depict a fictional character in a movie and have it banned for such really proves how idiotic religion can be. “Oh the morals, the morals of our people if they see such things” what a load of old rubbish. Start caring about real life situations that affect your people, not your religious nonsense.

  • LUWANTO

    LUWANTO
    To: The Indonesian Censorship Board,
    Sir,
    I beg to differ. No matter how you suppress, censor and enforce laws to ban this film, modern day IT technologies and applications would easily be available for people to download this film either today or tomorrow – so to speak. How you verbally object would not have any significance or meaning to stop anyone from seeing this film – that’s as far as the internet space is concerned. Also, no Govt is going all the miles to entirely block this film from being seen from millions of websites worldwide. The more you ban, the more curiosity builds up for people to feast their eyes on the film. This is the reality of modern day living with a good ‘stigma’ in our midst? Therefore, censorship should be chucked away before the world mocks you.
    LUWANTO
    25 March 2014

  • billy

    how pathetic….
    And they dare to say there is religious freedom in indonesia.. kiis my butt!!!!
    Welcome to the stone age indonesia.. I actually thought you were beyond iran iraq and the other muslim countries,, obviously muslims in indonesia still have a problem… we ont ban your films.. so what is the problem of a story???
    never mind….small minds do small things… we will distribute it through illegal dvds instead i guess??? oh yea… just saw it on the market today.. so what good did it do banning the film…???? none at all…

  • Friedrich J. Stahl

    From the article:
    ——————–
    “We have our own authority,” Zainut said. “We adjust it in accordance with society’s values WHICH UPHOLD RELIGIOUS and unity values. We won’t just follow in the footsteps of another country.”

    Really? Look, your own words have become a big slap on your face. What about those erotic-theme disguised as horror movies? Shame on you.. Money talks here. Your “own authority” is merely measured by some bucks!

    For Jakarta Globe:
    Please fix the mobile version of your site. The menu keeps popping up on my iPhone.

  • Sulistriant

    Joko said : if we are talking about film, we should see it as a work of art. Art is
    an interpretation of the filmmaker, so it should not be banned…… unfortunately, a lot of people has no criticize like that !

  • meautiayu

    Speaking about corrupted religious teaching, has our society failed in many level already? So I supposed the movie title should be changed into “The Ark” so that it will be acceptable no? Or does it even matter?

  • LUWANTO

    LUWANTO
    To: The
    Indonesian Censorship Board,
    Sir,
    I beg to differ. No matter how you suppress, censor and enforce laws to ban this film, modern day IT technologies and applications would easily be available for people to download this film either today or tomorrow – so to speak. How you verbally object would not have any significance or meaning to stop anyone from seeing this film – that’s as far as the internet space is concerned. Also, no Govt is going all the miles to entirely block this film from being seen from millions of websites worldwide. The more you
    ban, the more curiosity builds up for people to feast their eyes on the film. This is the reality of modern day living with a good ‘stigma’ in our midst? Therefore, censorship should be chucked away before the world mocks you.
    LUWANTO
    26 March 2014

  • Guest

    So much for the Indonesian Constitution, an absolute joke.

    May as well call it for Islam only.

    “The first thing is the content of Noah is against our beliefs or not according to the story in the holy book”

    Is this ignorant and small minded singular statement in part also relevant to other religions? Or is Indonesian NOT as it postures it is to recognize other religions LEGALLY according to the CONSTITUTION?

    So all religions recognized, selectively according to the narrow minded bigoted view of a few. If a movie is all one sided in accordance with the Quran only it is ok…otherwise bin it! What a load of crock!

    A few facts…

    Considering the Quran came out ~ 600 years after the bible, the Qoran writer/s must had had an extremely recollective memory to come up with this….and as for the censors comment “Noah is against our beliefs”…really?

    The Qoran…

    “Noah escaped the flood, but his son drowned (Sura 11:42-46) according to the Quran narrative,

    The Bible…

    “but he (Noah) escaped with his wife, three sons and their wives (Genesis 6:7,18) according to the Bible.”

    I am not for or against other religions, I am in fact a Muslim. However I respect the right of ALL views to be heard. I am dead set against this type of censorship, it reeks of one sided narrow minded people. Hitler also ensured the people only saw and heard what HE wanted then to.

    Truly FREE and DEMOCRATIC countries do no carry on like this, intelligent people can take all information in. If their belief in the Quran (or bible for that matter) is so weak a simple movie would convert them it doesn’t say much for any religion.

    Indonesia has a long way to go and the president should hand back his award on this subject. This censorship is against the constitution so is ILLEGAL. Stand up Indonesia, uphold the values and the constitution your forefathers fought for. Don’t support small minded ignorance like has been demonstrated here.

    Thankfully Singapore, and other thinking countries won’t be banning this movie.

  • Lone Wolf

    People should be given the right of self Censorship i.e. If you think a Movie will upset you…don’t go and see it. If the TV upsets you, switch it off, or better, get rid of it and improve your life instantly.

    Now, the Blaring infective speakers who noise pollute all areas 5 times a day I apparently have no choice. ( I have yet to find anyone who actually listens to this noise). Anyone had a conversation about what was screamed ? “ooh…that was interesting this morning………..”

    • Lone Wolf

      The film does not offend me but I have no interest in seeing it either. I did however enjoy Thor…..another fictional movie.

    • weegie-boy

      I asked my wife one day, what’s he talking about from the speakers! She said she didn’t know as she wasn’t listening to it. Exactly….

    • Valkyrie1604

      LW……I detest the noise but thanks to them I do not need to set an alarm. Strangely, when it rains in the wee morning hours the number of “callers” are drastically reduced.

  • Max Headroom

    And I thought the movie was of Noah of the Christian Old Testament, which was quite a few centuries before the Koran was ever written and mentioned (stole???) this and other prophets of Christianity and made it its own for religious propaganda.

    Anyway, same as it happened with the movie “2012″ when it came to movie theatres here – whatever the censoring board tries to prevent that people see this film to “uphold Indonesia society’s religious teachings and unity values” – it will so easily available in any shop selling DVD’s that it basically has zero impact – most certainly NOT those “religious and unity values”. But probably there will be “sweeps” by the FPI and similar groups in Glodok to prevent Muslims from watching the film (but that’s OK! I guess I will download it later via torrent as soon as there’s some decent quality available…..)

    • Comello

      ‘The Christian Old Testament”….
      Do you really want to be corrected on that one?

      Let’s hope Indonesian Jews don’t read this.

      • msnsn

        “Indonesian Jews”. That’s a good one.

      • Max Headroom

        Comello and Poseidon…I do believe that the vast majority of Christians is very well aware and does NOT deny that the Old Testament is a transcript of Jewish text (which may well be again transcripts from even older writings and other cultures before) – no copyright issues there.
        For Christians in Christianity the Noah story is from the Christian Old Testament – exactly as I wrote it. As you are surely aware the bible is indeed divided in the Old Testament, which reaches all those Abraham, Cain & Abel, Moses etc. stories ahead and the New Testament which is the story of the teachings and life of Jesus (who was also incorporated into the Islamic Koran/Quran/whatever-it-is-spelled and being declared an Islamic prophet named Isa).

  • mrlogic

    I thought the country had risen above banning films, since the Soeharto days; obviously not. Another nail.

  • nikraf

    think this is a dig at Australia because of past troubles

    because New Zealand-born Australian actor Russell Crowe lives in Australia

  • Serigala

    People will just buy the DVD for 5000 Rupiah

  • joyoboyo

    The first to get washed away by the next flood, FPI. Sorry dude, you shall not pass!

  • David Horovitz

    Actually censorship here by “these small minded idiots” as you describe them is akin to the Pope preaching Family Values when he is forbidden to get married and have children.

  • RationalFearOfTerror

    It is interesting if the same thing was done to an Islamic portrayal of the same story in the West it would be called an Islamophobic act.

    • joyoboyo

      I don’t know what more embarrassing to Indonesia; the govt. forgetting they have a constitution which prohibits this censorship or supporting the ideals and end game of a select few that are likely funded from the Levant.

  • Angry Magpie

    It’s interesting that the Jakarta Globe has been consistently neglecting the fact that
    ‘contradictions’ with the Christian Bible was also quoted to be a factor behind the ban. I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that it is owned by a Christian company. Hmmm… ?

  • Comello

    Exactly.
    So claiming the Old Testament as being ‘christian’, is similar to the Indonesian/islamic censor board claiming to have the sole rights to the Noah story.

  • Blade

    Whats the fuss? is this not just a movie of a man who builds a boat , collects some animals and they sail around for 40 days?