Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Logan Lerman
Plot: A man is chosen by his world's creator to undertake a momentous mission to rescue the innocent before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the wicked from the world.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama
Awards: Nom. for 1 Golden Globe - Best Original Song
Rating: NC16 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“My father said that one day, if man continued in his ways, the Creator would annihilate this world...”
There have been many controversial movies, but it is rare to find a big-budgeted blockbuster creating such a huge storm. Noah has been banned in a number of countries with dominant Islamic teachings. It has also angered many Christians who have protested against the movie’s dark, uncompassionate portrayal of biblical character Noah, and its exploration of issues that confront the nature of the Creator.
All these protests are valid to some extent, but I suggest you see the film in its entirety first, and then challenge yourself to think about how you feel, free from your own faith (if any) and any pre-existing notion to what things are. To tackle a “revisionist” screen adaptation of a seminal text like the story of Noah requires first and foremost the clarity of thought.
The Creator wants to wash away the sins of the world, namely the evil Man. Noah, the chosen one, has to build an ark to save the innocents (namely animals) from the great flood. Even if you are unfamiliar with the Bible, it is likely you have heard of this story from somewhere before. Believe it or not, I was first acquainted with the story of Noah in an edition of Archie Comics during the mid-1990s.
At that time, I was fascinated not by Noah’s noble actions, but why so many people had to die. I believe writer-director Darren Aronofsky had similar thoughts. His version in Noah is visionary, liberal and is filled with deep shades of grey. Like most of the characters in his earlier works such as Pi (1998), Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Black Swan (2010), Noah as quite excellently played by Russell Crowe is constantly being subjected to psychological torture, guilt and torment.
Aronofsky, so courageous in portraying Noah as the imperfect human who is faced with an incredible task (or burden), also doesn’t lose sight of the situational drama that unfolds. Amid the flurry of CG effects and chaotic battle scenes, he somehow brings you to think about morality and mortality. I must admit though that the visual effects are uncharacteristically overwhelming, at times threatening to derail what the filmmakers had initially planned to do.
While it takes a while for the movie to pick up, the performances are decent at best, and Aronofsky's kaleidoscopic visual style recall his existentialist drama The Fountain (2006), taking us through some of the weaker moments. Composer Clint Mansell lends his unique sound and layered compositions to another Aronofsky picture. He is very underrated, and I feel he ought to be hired more often.
No matter what you may think (or assume) about Noah, credit ought to be given to Aronofsky and co. for their bold attempt to envision a famous Biblical text as a Hollywood blockbuster. Even if you may disagree with its treatment, at least you have to agree it is not just another dumb effects movie. That would have possibly incurred the wrath of the titans.
Verdict: Aronofsky's focus on situational drama and characterization amid the flurry of CG effects elevates this "disaster movie" into a loose Biblical adaptation that challenges viewers for the better.
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