Noah will undoubtedly be the center of plenty of controversy as the masses file to see the film as it releases nationwide today. I know the Biblical story of the famed ark builder quite intimately as I’ve heard the story hundreds of times throughout my life — this movie, Noah, taken on by renowned Director Darren Aronofsky, is not the Biblical tale your preacher told you.
This film has an element of fantasy to it (there are rock creatures who help build the ark) — it’s more mystical and has a lot of creative freedom added to the story from the Bible. This is no Passion of the Christ, a movie which sought to put audiences into the sandals of Jesus Christ as the Bible tells it. Aronofsky went a different route and took the short story about Noah in the Bible and turned it into a sprawling Hollywood epic. So Christians, be warned: this movie does not seek to preach the word of God, nor does it even mention the word “God” (the film only calls the higher being in the film “The Creator”). And for all those secular folk who don’t know the tale of Noah, this movie is not the working story from the Bible.
Arnofsky’s Noah features Russell Crowe as the leading man charged to build an ark for two animals of every kind on Earth. He is married to Naameh played by Jennifer Connelley, a surprisingly strong-willed woman who defies her husband quite often (not usually the case in Biblical times). Together they have three boys, and a girl named Ila (Emma Watson) who they adopted after finding her abandoned and half-dead.
“The Creator” sends Noah visions of the great flood and sets him on a task to save the animals. He soon begins the years-long task of building the ark with his family. But as the project nears completion and the animals begin to flock to the massive structure, the local sinners come a-knockin’ seeking refuge.
Noah clearly has an agenda, one could even argue an anti-humanity agenda. The film makes it clear that the animals deserve salvation because they have been living according to the way “The Creator” intended. Since the creation of man the first sinners, Adam and Eve, unleashed hell upon Earth with murder, greed, envy, etc. Noah firmly believes it is his job to save the animals, but none of the humans outside of his family — after his family dies off, so will all of humanity, as “The Creator” intended. It’s kind of depressing at times.
The film takes an apparent stance against carnivorism, as Noah and his family only eat the vegetation of the land. The film almost makes it seem like carnivorism is the most egregious “sin” of those “non-believers.” I can easily eschew this vegetarian message (I love meat) to still enjoy the film — but if you cannot get over preachy story lines, and you like me love a good steak, I’d recommend skipping this heavy-handed blockbuster flick.
Aside from the agenda, Noah, like any Aronofsky project (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), is ripe with emotional highs and lows for its characters. Aronofsky (who co-wrote the screenplay) is a master at creating grounded, worthwhile characters who must overcome life’s trials and tribulations (and oftentimes in his films they fail miserably). Towards the end of Noah, the audience is left in a dilemma trying to remain faithful to characters they love despite hating their deplorable actions. The conflict between characters is the driving force of Noah, and the dire moments within will leave audiences at a loss for words and plenty to think about after the screening.
Noah is filled with glorious visuals (the falling rain and flood is gorgeous and overwhelming), the score by Clint Mansell is perfectly composed to add to the imagery, and of course, the cast of all-stars fit into their ancient characters with ease. Ray Winstone (one of the more underrated actors in Hollywood) plays Tubal-cain, the leader of the sinning resistance. Crowe and Winstone against one another equals some of the best scenes of the film.
Overall, Noah is a film that is easy to enjoy if you can simply take it for what it is, a Hollywood blockbuster — Christians will be up in arms because it’s not accurate (nor is it meant to be), meat lovers possibly for its vegetarian message. But if you can sit back and appreciate what Aronofsky tried to do here, create his own, unique tale about the man who built the world’s first animal shelter, then I highly recommend it.
Grade: 8.5 out of 10
Photos via: Google