Directed by Darren Aronofsky
I was flooded with excitement over two years ago when I first heard the news that my favorite director, Darren Aronofsky, would be taking on the Biblical epic of Noah’s Ark. I remember when Russell Crowe was announced as Noah, when the first poster came out, when the trailer released. Now, finally, I got to see what I’ve been so highly anticipating this whole time. However, I’m sad to announce, “Noah” drowned in the hype I had spent so much time creating for it.
You know the story. World is intolerably wicked, so God takes Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family (Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Leo McHugh Carroll, and Emma Watson) and two of every animal to fill an ark while he floods the world, creating a totally new (and probably super muddy) planet for the survivors to re-inhabit. But what takes four Bible chapters takes a little over two hours in cinematic time. So Aronofsky gets creative. Rock giants (no, not like Mick Jagger) inhabit the planet to protect what little good is left. Aronofsky’s Noah doesn’t just take lions and tigers and bears on the ark. What creatures we do see are mostly unknown to us, because thousands of years (if we’re going by the Bible timeline) would cause a few evolutionary changes. The biggest difference, though, is the heated conflict caused when the descendants of Cain (led by Ray Winstone) attempt to take the ark and kill Noah, the last descendant of Seth (lesser-known brother of Cain and Abel).
Under the direction of auteur Aronofsky (“Black Swan,” “Pi”), the Noah story strayed from the Bible. But if it wasn’t for Aronofsky’s longtime cinematographer Matthew Libatique, it wouldn’t have looked half as stunning. “Noah” needs to be seen on the big screen. Aronofsky and Libatique’s artistic vision is incomparable. The world, even in its desolation, looks beautiful. Noah’s creation story, told to his children, is a marvelous interpretation of the first days of existence. At times, it looks like the Discovery Channel’s
“Planet Earth.” According to Aronofsky, Noah is the world’s first environmentalist. He values the lives of God’s creations – and after seeing the world in “Noah,” so do we.
In the Bible, Noah doesn’t speak a word of dialogue. Obviously, that needed to be altered. A script by Aronofsky and collaborator Ari Handel (“The Fountain”) isn’t perfect. “Noah” emphasizes the natural drama of the Biblical story. Dramatic lines are repeated for emphasis (“The end of everything,” Watson muses. “The beginning,” Crowe corrects. “The beginning of everything”). Is it at times annoying? Maybe. But Russell Crowe has the gravitas to pull it off. You know when a dramatic line is coming. But somehow, you still want to cheer after Crowe lets a real killer of a line rip with soap opera timing. But Crowe’s actions speak even louder than his words. This isn’t the Noah you read about in Sunday school. The Old Testament was a dark and twisted place ruled by a jealous God. As Aronofsky noted in an interview, the world before the flood was a world before rainbows. Noah was ready to do whatever it took to save his family, save the animals, and repopulate the Earth. Apparently, badass Noah was even ready to kill.
“Noah” is a little artsier than I thought. And, though I came in expected something that strays from the original story, Aronofsky gives us something a little too close to “The Lord of the Rings.” But it’s dramatic. Clint Mansell’s booming score sets the mood. And it’s breathtakingly gorgeous to look at, especially on the big screen. If you go into it with the mind of a Bible purist, you’ll have no fun. And I guess I can’t blame you. But if you go for the epic excitement of a mythical take on one of the world’s most exciting stories, you should have a blast.