starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth and Anthony Hopkins, with the voice of Nick Nolte
written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
directed by Darren Aronofsky
This is not exactly the same Noah and the flood story that you might remember from Sunday School, or even from the Bible if you have bothered to read it. It’s a bit different from other epic Bible films. For one thing, aided by Computer Graphics, it’s a lot darker. Incidentally, for all of its fame in Western culture the Flood story occupies only five pages of my Bible, Genesis 6-10. People unfamiliar with the Bible - which are most people - might think it’s a bigger event that it really is in Scripture. Oh, well. Russell Crowe’s Noah is really kind of an asshole.
For me the most interesting thing about Noah is the depiction of how God’s message is revealed and interpreted. Unlike the usual Bible film it’s not just a matter of God speaking to a righteous man in a dream, or in a clearly understandable although disembodied voice. In this case Noah has a terrible time understanding what he is experiencing and distilling a message in it.
When it comes, the flood happens really fast. Whoosh! Well, that conforms to Biblical descriptions of ancient cosmology, describing how God unleashed the waters above the heavens and below the earth.
No one prays in Noah because Yahwism hadn’t been invented yet. Instead, God was simply “the Creator.” There are no animal sacrifices, and humans were still vegetarians. It wasn’t until after the Flood that God gave humanity permission to eat meat (Genesis 9:3). I guess a lot of people don’t know that, do they? Until the Flood humanity were vegetarians. According to Scripture only eight humans were saved within the Ark (Genesis 7:13), although in the movie it’s six. A lot of viewers might not notice or recognize it, but a snakeskin is used in the film as a sort of precursor to the more familiar Jewish tefillin, or phylacteries. The unspoken implication, I think, is that the skin belonged to the serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, resulting in Mankind’s fall from grace.
Noah occupies an ugly world filled with sin, depravity and environmental destruction. I hate the way that modern social fads like this - environmentalism - get projected back into a Bible story. But on the other hand, maybe it helps the story speak to a modern audience, an audience that doesn’t know any better, an audience that is so stupid it is akin to a streaming pile of stupidity that is prone to beat itself to death in a few years. In other words, your average people. The landscape of Noah is as bleak as many post-apocalyptic movies, like Book of Eli (2010, starring Denzel Washington, directed by Allen Hughes and Albert Hughes), and The Road (2009, starring Viggo Mortensen, directed by John Hillcoat). Except Noah is not a post-apocalyptic story, it is a pre-apocalyptic story.☼