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Old 12th Jan 2015, 12:56   #1
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Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
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Default Noah

Darren Aronovsky apparently called it the ‘least Biblical film ever made’: it’s a few verses from Genesis slathered in Rabbinic midrash, and expanded sideways and upwards into an apocryphal but somehow also (post-) Apocalyptic story of end-times, of survival, of the grace given to start again. It’s also big and blowzy and full of environmental themes, with Noah as an eco-warrior following the visions that tell him time is up for the murderous and inhuman beings that were once “in the image of the Creator”.

So what if it required a suspension of disbelief to take in the volcanic ash-fields of the landscape in which Noah and his family were eking out their lives, the CGI stone-creatures that were the supposed nephilim “Watchers”, fallen from heavenly grace but ultimately redeemed as they help Noah complete his task. This is not Sunday-School: the animals are not forefront in the story, although it is almost their preservation (Noah’s stewardship of creation) that is the most enduring motivation for his obedience to a harsh reality. Noah is witness to the corruption and depravity of humankind: there are scenes straight out of Hieronymous Bosch, and later on, scenes of despair and human agony akin to Goya’s scenes of war-time suffering.

The film is not trite, despite appearances. It asks big questions and does not allow Noah his status as a man who simply “walks with God”: he may be righteous but what does that mean practically when faced with a young girl to be abandoned in the face of butchering hordes, or depriving your family and the world of a human-shaped future. Small wonder he is led into despair and drunkenness when the ark comes to rest and he is wrestling with how he had “got it wrong”. Thank heaven for Emma Watson as adopted daughter Ila who set him right in the face of possible human extinction.

Although it contained moments of bombast and sentiment, the performances of the central characters were important and strong in the most part: Crowe and Jennifer Connolly as Naameh, with Emma Watson also on good form. Did it matter that Antony Hopkins played a grizzled Obi-Wan figure of Methusalah? Not a bit. That Ray Winstone was a bloodthirsty Snake-in-Eden incarnate? The Story of Noah is a myth and this was a mythological film, handling the material with good sense and an impressive degree of reverence: the Tree-of-Life-style “story of Evolution” was brilliantly handled and the sense of life and humanity’s role on earth as being from a Creator was hazily but determinedly presented in the film, much as it is in The Fountain. I think I like Aronovsky films – I probably need to hunt out the ones I’ve not seen.

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