Film review: Noah

“Noah” has been preceded by animated controversy in the U.S. because of it not being truthful to the Bible tale. IMDB says that Paramount Pictures showed 3 different cuts to Christian groups (behind the director’s back) and never got anything but criticism.
As a result, the movie made 44 million dollars in the opening weekend, only in the U.S.
I couldn’t wait for the movie to be out, so I joined the mass of southern neighbours, and rushed to the cinema.
Not because I am interested about religious issues, I am not in the least.
But first, because it is a Darren Aronofsky movie.
First time I heard of him it was because he was being divorced by Rachel Weisz for Daniel Craig; then I saw “The fountain”, a complicated intertwine of 3 tales (one past, one present and one future) about men trying to reach endless love, with different outcomes. Then of course came “Black swan”, the movie that taught me the meaning of all the possible shades of the word disturbing… and I decided that my next Aronofsky’s sample would settle the question “mad or genious?”
And then, because I have to admit that I have a thing for Russell Crowe. The man Russell Crowe I detest, ever since that story of phones thrown at innocent waiters because the lines to Australia were busy. But the actor Russell Crowe I admire, ever since I saw “The insider”, and I have seen nearly every movie in which he’s the main character.
Yes, including “Mystery, Alaska”.

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PLOT
All I ever knew about Noah is that when at some point God was extremely dissatisfied with mankind that He decided to drown it all, he was the just man God selected to save all the innocent creatures of God, the animals. To do so, Noah built an ark that he filled with a female and a male of every species and then waited for the rain to stop and the land to emerge again.
I already pointed out that I am not strong in religious issues.
Last sunday I learnt that:
– Noah was wearing trousers
– Noah was heir of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve, the brother of Cain and Abel, the one that was enthrusted with the conservation of God’s Creation. This task passed from father to son until it was passed to Noah.
– Noah had a wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and 3 kids: Shem, Hem and Japheth.
Clearly the offspring of Cain have done much a better job at pillaging the Creation than Seth’s at preserving it, as the Earth is barren wasteland by Noah’s days. One night God speaks to Noah, or else he plants visions in his dreams, and visions have this problem: they must be interpreted.
So Noah travels with all the family to his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) and the vision unravels: God is going to make it rain until the whole world is flooded; Noah must pull to safety every plant or animal that God created so that the world can start anew.
With the help of the Watchers (fallen angels now rock giants, willing to make amend to God for their faults) Noah builds the ark, and welcomes the animals.
But of course the animal migration attracts to the ark the unwanted attention of the self-proclaimed King of Men, who prepares to seize it. Thank God (who else?) the Flood conveniently starts when the king of men attacks.
But the problem with interpreting visions about God’s will is that you can misunderstand: we see Noah bravely endure the cries for help coming from the people dying outside the ark because he’s sure that God doesn’t want all mankind to survive the Flood.
But things change when he has to face the unexpected pregnancy of his elder son’s wife, Ila (Emma Watson), saved and adopted when she was a little girl, and deemed to be barren.
We know that mankind survived, so it’s no spoiler in telling you that in the end Noah didn’t manage to kill the babies, and for this we see him drunk (so Noah knew how to make wine also) because he failed God.

MY UNQUESTIONABLE OPINION
“Noah” shows a silent and distant God that order a mass slaughter to a man who turned from conservation to destruction. Any reason why Christians should have issues with it?
Yet, even in the Bible, God did order it, and Noah did do it.
This movie shoes how the man Noah changed. From loving husband and father and compassionate conservator to harsh head of the household and merciless arbiter.
If anyone doesn’t get this on his own, Aronofsky puts a revealing line in Crowe’s mouth: the son tells him “He chose you because you were good” and Noah sternly replies “He chose me because He knew I’d complete the task, nothing more”.
As we both feel and know that Noah’s struggle is ill-aimed, it’s difficult to be supportive of him.
As public, we need to identify ourselves in the characters, or, if the movie represents great men, we need to admire them, to feel inspired by their greatness.
So when it’s a darker shade of a great man that we see, we feel confused and lost, which I bet was exactly Aronofsky’s goal.
Back to a cinematographic point of view.
I think the sequence of the (attempted) reconciliation between the creation tale in 7 days as it is told in the Genesis and a fast-forward evolutionist recap, it is beautifully done. I bet this too is hurting Christians…
I liked the arrival of the animals into the ark.
I liked the shape of the ark, and the way its sketch appears to Noah.
I liked Crowe’s drunkard and defeated Noah, you can really see him desperate for understanding and forgiveness – both from himself and from his estranged family.
I didn’t like the battle at the ark, that resembles a little too much the taking of Isengard, with all that water and the Watchers looking like a stone version of the Ents.
I didn’t like the villain king of men, plain bad, and nothing else.
I think that all the inter-family dramas (Hem passing to the Dark Side) were just outlined and therefore weak.
Still it was interesting, to say the least.

Mark: 7 / 10

4 responses to “Film review: Noah

  1. The Watchers reminded me of Ents, too! I liked it and didn’t find them too similar. Nice review!

  2. Good review. A very strange movie, yet, always compelling and interesting to watch. That’s enough for me to see any movie, let alone a Darren Aronofsky movie.

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