By Darin Skaggs
At one point in the Bible, God is upset where the human race has ended up so he sends a flood to wipe them out. He doesn’t kill everybody though. He spares one family, instructs them to build an arc to fit two of every animal and be sturdy enough to wait out a flood that covers the entire earth. That is the adaptation of Darren Aronofsky’s new film, Noah.
This film doesn’t really follow the classic Sunday school tale we are all familiar with. There are a few surprises and complete changes to the story. Aronofsky begins with the “In the beginning…” parts of this tale with God creating earth, animals, light and humans. Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden fruit after being tempted by Satan and end up exiled from Eden. They have three children Cane, Abel and Seth. Cane then murders Abel. The good people, Seth, and the bad people, Abel separate and spend a long time as enemies. This leads to Noah living in a dark world. He starts getting visions from God, referred to as Creator, and decides to build an arc. That all sounds pretty faithful to the story. Well, Aronofsky adds other elements to the story such as powerful stones that cast “spells” of sorts and fallen Angels that look like that rock monster from The Neverending Story.
The film is pretty well put together. The effects of the boat on the water, animals flocking to the arc are done really well and there are great performances all around. Russell Crowe plays Noah and does a wonderful job as a man who is sent to build a boat he thinks will save the “innocent” and be the death of the entire human race. You feel for him, he gets a few laughs out and when the script needs him to be, he is very unlikable. Other great performances come from Jennifer Connely, playing Noah’s wife Naameh and Emma Watson who plays a girl named Ila that the family takes in after finding her abandon in a village. All the effects are not amazing but they get the job done.
What really makes the film is its exploration of faith and religion. The film, in an act of genius, skips the whole part where people call Noah crazy for building this boat. The antagonist in the film say they don’t believe in miracles but when they saw thousands of birds flying towards the boat they did not play ignorant. They threat Noah that their village will overtake his boat when the rain comes. Another part that is different in the film is that Noah, who has been given vague instructions from God, believes this is supposed to be the end of the human race because we are all evil in some way or another. When they find Ila, she is wounded and it leaves her baron. Noah thinks this is more proof God wants them all dead.
These aspects help explore the themes of the film. Noah is convinced the human race is supposed to die. Then Ila is healed, becomes pregnant and is given just enough girls to repopulate the earth. Noah doesn’t care and goes with what he thinks God told him to do and threatens to murder the children if they are girls. This says a lot about modern day religion. Miracles happen, Noah is given all the material to build the boat, enough food for his families and wives for his sons all because he listened to God. Then he thinks God wants him to kill his grandchildren because God told him to. There was no hint that he was told this, but he goes on believing it. With all the religious people judging “bad people” because the Bible says what they’re doing is wrong they are just like Noah in this film. God didn’t ask us to talk or tell people that we need to judge people and say they are bad. He wants us to be kind to each other and do the right thing. The film is a mirror image of wrong doing religious people of now. God does not want us to judge or be rude to others just like God didn’t want Noah to kill his kin.
The film does have its flaws. There are storylines that don’t leave much of an impact. The final confrontation with the main bad guy seems rushed. The script kind of puts all the conclusions at one point making some of them unsatisfying. It is a good exploration of religion. It is also pretty fun while being honest with the horror of what would happen if God asked you to do this.