Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content.
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Nick Nolte, Mark Margolis, Kevin Durand, Leo McHugh Carroll, Marton Csokas.
Written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Where have you gone Cecil B. Demille? What ever happened to the ‘Bible Epic’ film? With all the scum, debauchery and violence produced by Hollywood in spades lately, one has to wonder if scripture will ever make a comeback as source material for film (Sodom and Gomorrah notwithstanding, of course). Enter Darren Aronofsky, who decided it was high time the tale of Noah and his animal ark get a little screen time. While a mass of religion-minded folk seem like a perfect mark for another Bible movie, they might not be prepared for a religious film from the likes of a man who made movies like Black Swan, The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream.
Russell Crowe stars as Noah, the only good man left in a world where evil persists – only a few generations from the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. You see, Noah is a direct descendant of Adam (through Seth), while the rest of the world is descended from Cain (the world’s first murderer). Noah and his family avoid the ‘bad people’ while surviving on what appears to be a vegan diet, harming no animals (notice a theme here?).
One night, God shows Noah a dream/nightmare, foreshadowing his plan to flood the planet and wipe out mankind. Noah’s family then encounters a group of ‘rock’ giants who are really fallen angels spoiled by the Earth’s filthiness, one of which named Samyza (voiced by Nick Nolte) helps them on their journey. Noah visits his grandpa Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), who gives him a seed from the Garden of Eden, which sprouts a vast, green forest from which Noah can harvest wood to make an ark. With the help of the ‘rock giants,’ his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) his sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), Japeth (Leo McHugh Carroll) and an adopted orphan girl named Ila (Emma Watson), Noah commences to build his famous ark.
Things get serious when the king of the bad people (Ray Winstone) sets his sights on Noah’s ark, since he believes the flood is coming. A subtext running through the heart of the movie is the realization that 1) Ila is barren, due to being mangled as a child and 2) Ham doesn’t have a mate. All this procreative reality dawns upon Noah and his family, who are concerned that if they survive the flood, their species will not.
So, the flood hits in spectacular fashion as the bad people rush the ark. After dealing with the guilt produced by the screams of all those drowning people, Noah must deal with a new charge from ‘The Creator,’ who prompts him to kill the offspring of Shem and Ila (whose womb is miraculously cured by Methuselah prior to the flood). The basic idea is, God really just wanted to save all the innocent animals, and humans blew it – so they have to die off (in other words, God used Noah to save the critters).
First things first.
If you are a religious person familiar with the Biblical tale of Noah, no NOT expect to see a movie that has anything to do with scripture. The limit to Darren Aronofsky’s interpretation of the Bible ends at the names of certain characters and an ark filled with animals. Everything else is a fabrication or supposition. Once you get past ‘rock giants,’ (think: Clash of the Titans meets God) most of the action and dialogue jibes in Noah with scripture prior to the flood. Once the flood hits, there is a LOT of stuff that doesn’t have any scriptural basis. In short, don’t take the “film” Noah as having anything to do with the “biblical” Noah you’re accustomed to. The depiction of a prophet of God being prompted to murder his family will be hard for most devout bible readers to consume at the very least. It’s not exactly blasphemy, but it’s not canon, either. One pivotal scene at the end of the film leaves the spiritual message in the hands of Ila (Watson) – not the “prophet of God,” which also might rub the religious folks the wrong way.
All creative license aside, Noah is an interesting film with fantastic visual effects that should provoke a lot of deep thought about the nature of humanity and mankind’s relationship with God. The weird nature of Aronofsky’s narrative will more than likely alienate religious audiences, but those who are able to shed their biblical preconceptions might enjoy the dark, deep Aronofsky-esque message. There’s also a less-than-obvious and preachy environmental message on display in Noah, which might also get a few eyes rolling (hint: part of the prevalent “evil” God wants cleansed from the Earth is eating meat – along with industrialism).
Noah may not resonate with everyone, but if you like dark, deep interpretations of Bible stories, you might enjoy it.
If not, I’ll wager you'll think the book is better.