“Noah” is about a man with a hell of a lot of responsibility. Adapted from the renowned biblical texts, adventurous director Darren Aranofsky floods our senses with the audiovisual experience of climactic grandeur that only he can portray.
Half a cinema was present in sharing the first showing of “Noah” in my area, indicating the controversy and cast grabbed a lot of attention. From what I’ve read Aranofsky has stayed quite true to the source material story-wise though with only some minor changes to keep things exciting (an altered story arc for Ham for example); which in my opinion were very worthwhile.
After a run through of the book of Genesis (Creation, temptation in the Garden of Eden, Cain murdering Abel and the watchers leaving heaven to help on earth) we meet a young Noah who flees after witnessing the murder of his father by Cain’s selfish descendants. The film cuts forward and Noah, himself a descendant of Adam and Eve’s third son Seth, is now a father of 3 who respects the Creator’s work enormously. “We only take what we need” he says as his son picks a flower for its aesthetics alone. Suddenly, a single rain drop hits the ground and a flower springs up instantly, of course this must be a sign from God so Noah decides to take his family to seek advice from his Grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins). En route, they find an injured orphan named Ila among the remains of a massacre and out of love take her with them as they flee into an blackened wasteland from a mob of warriors approaching quickly. Noah is later stricken with several haunting and beautifully represented dreams where he is suspended underwater above the drowned human race, he decides to build an ark to save the good of the world from the flood that could end it.
Russell Crowe, like most of the other performances, is solid and believable as Noah but not outstanding; his somber voice really hitting home some profound anecdotes and memorable lines. As the audience we are able to watch him slowly change his outlook and reflect on his own way of life which held my interest. Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife is largely expressionless but then has an emotionally charged speech later on that makes up for it. Ray Winstone as the king of Men is brilliantly creepy and comical however his surprisingly timid sword forging and some other minor quips (London accent etc.) broke the spell now and again if only for an instant. Emma Watson was a real gem, but maybe I only say that because I’m madly in love with her.
The Watchers though… If it is in the source material that the fallen angels really did meld with rock then Aronofsky’s interpretation is pretty darn awesome. Imagine the offspring of a mech from the Matrix sequels and an Onix and you have an Ark-building, human-stomping Watcher. The film is always visually stunning with multiple epic set pieces in and around the monumental Ark such as the influx of different creatures by air and land. The story of man’s destructive downward spiral into hatred from their humble beginnings as single celled life-forms and even earlier is also gracefully interpreted. Scenes post-flood in my opinion look gorgeous, similar to the groundbreaking visuals in certain “Life of Pi” scenes. What I love about Aronofsky’s films in particular is how he usually builds to a climax. Previously his films have built to a huge crescendo and then just end, such as the final fight in “The Wrestler” or performance in “Black Swan”, aided by a tantalizing score that pushes you steadily to the edge of your seat. In Noah, there are multiple critical climaxes which though not quite as impactful still mesmerise and entertain.
Overall, “Noah” is a great film not without the refined editing, music and style we’ve come to expect from this director’s work. Though likely heavily restrained by the production company’s fear of offending, the film’s over-arching themes of respect for the earth and largely encapsulating visuals (apart from a couple of painfully rendered green-screen scenes) make up for times where I thought the screenwriting was a little too safe.
Thoroughly enjoyable and I learnt a thing or two, 7.5/10 from me.