‘Noah:’ Darren To Be Different

“Darren Aronofsky’s Noah” is a pretty silly concept when you think about each part of that phrase. We are talking about Darren Aronofsky, director of secular, “sin-filled,” mind-bending hyphenates like Black Swan and Requiem For a Dream tackling the biblical story of Noah…from the Bible…the religious one. The fact that it’s a movie about a story from the Bible is enough to get many to plug their ears without having seen the movie and shout, “Controversy!” for the sake of it, which is always fun for the rest of us, the population of discerning folks who would rather make our opinions informed ones rather than simply deafeningly loud.

There is no doubt that this is the story from the Bible. There are references to the Creator, and we are witness to “miracles” by way of dreams. Noah tells his children the tale of creation (though that is not without its subtle, tactical nods to the big bang and evolution, you know, the real story). But the fact is, and this is something Aronofsky said himself, Noah is hardly, barely, scarcely, a biblical film. It’s an epic. It’s science fiction. It is violent and about faith in mankind, good vs. evil, duty vs. instinct, and good ol’ fashioned family melodrama.

In this iteration, Noah exists in a burned and desolate world ravaged by filthy, barbaric, humans who have no respect for each other or the earth they’ve been given. He is warned of humanity’s destruction by flood in a dream, a vision from the Creator. The events of the story are ones we all know. He has his family build an ark, two of every species of animal flock to the ark, and they endure the rising waters.

What this film expands on and delves into, in classic Aronofsky fashion, is the psychological torture of a man who is tasked with saving only the worthy beings and bringing justice to the world. Noah faces the additional, endlessly unnverving challenge of reconciling that massive responsibility with preserving his family’s humanity. Russell Crowe is pretty good, and that’s the nicest thing I’ll ever say about him. He is convincingly unconvinced of his own convictions, a good man who wants to believe in the good of all men, obey his destiny, bring justice to those who have violated their planet and answer for the destruction his species has caused, all while protecting his family and grappling with the complexities of his role as warden of the new world.

It’s a mighty action film, an impressive story of larger-than-life proportions, including fallen angels crippled by huge, stone entrapments, ruthless savage hoards of people, magic seeds, and a wise old Anthony Hopkins in a mountain. However, it is also a supremely human story of psychological struggle, the inner turmoil that comes with morally ambiguous actions that one must take, the tug of war between duty and will, justice and mercy. This is the stuff to be extracted from this Bible story, from all Bible stories: the beauty of the humanness of existence, with all its triumphs and flaws and bouts of doubt.

Noah has been tested with audiences up the wazoo, to mixed results and a spat between the studio and Aronofsky over the ending. I will say that whoever won that argument…they should have picked the other guy. The last twenty minutes or so play like a melodramatic familial soap opera. They could have easily called the third act Noah: Osage County. 

But the message, by then, is clear. Life is too complicated to follow orders blindly. The facts that human beings are flawed but teachable, willing to learn to live nobly, and full of love for one another is no small thing. It is, in fact, everything.

Man, Noah had a lot to think about. I don’t envy him a bit. Good thing it’s just a made up story, huh?

Grade: B+

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8 years ago

Aronofsky didn’t really do the allegory justice though. Was a bit disappointed with much of the detail and drama he added to the biblical story. He turned Noah into a psycho and really had no reason to, and that part fell rather flat. Believer or not, Noah deserved better.

Mark Dreher
8 years ago

The movie
Is an abomination.

And absolutely NOTHING, to do with the bible.

He will burn in Hell for that.
You don’t take names from the bible
And just make up stuff.

God getting mad at you.
Remember that.

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