Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Noah - Movie Review

Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth. Directed by Darren Aronofsky.


My first impressions were what they were, but I was inspired to do a little more research into the story of Noah. I've always known the Bible's version, but I also read the Torah and Midrash, which has subtle differences and theories.

Noah is a hybrid tale. It has some adventure and some thrills and some psychosexual drama that you'd expect from the director of Black Swan.

Did he take artistic liberties? Sure. Which ones are the most egregious?

I don't have a problem with the rock monsters. The Bible refers to "giants" walking the land in those days, and the Torah and Midrash refer to the Nephilim - fallen angels - and combine these two, so sure, now the Nephilim are giants, encased in rock bodies unable to return to heaven. I'll give it that.

I don't have a problem with Noah's environmentalism, which he takes a weird extreme. But I can also see why there would be confusion. In this story, mankind's only been on the Earth a handful of generations, and after the fall of Adam and Eve, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, man's figuring out how to make it on his own in this dreary world. Noah still sees tending the Earth, respecting the plants and animals, as part of his righteous duty.

God (almost always referred to as The Creator here) doesn't speak to Noah so much as send him visions. Noah then interprets these visions as to what he must do. And the visions aren't vague. Noah sees the evil of mankind in the way they... eat animals and mine for minerals.  (Not so much the robbery, rape and murder.) In this respect, the Creator/Noah motives reminded me too much of Keanu Reeves in that lame Day the Earth Stood Still remake.

I didn't even mind the villainous Tubal-cain secretly stowing away on the ark.

My biggest problem was Noah's insistance that Ham and Japeth don't get wives. The Bible's pretty clear that all three sons had wives. When the rains started coming, and only Shem has a wife, and Noah's not collecting any women for his other two sons... um, wait a minute. It's a pretty big part of the story that Earth was populated through the generations of Noah's three sons.

Noah believes part of The Creator's plan is for mankind to go extinct. He thinks the Creator called him to save the plants and animals, and then he, his wife, Shem and his wife, and Ham and Japeth will be the last humans on Earth.

Now in the Midrash it says that Noah and his sons entered separately from Noah's wife and his sons' wives, and there's a theory that the animals were separated by gender, and there was therefore no sex by anyone/anything on the ark until after the flood.

In the end, the very very end, Noah does the right thing, and it's implied the Earth will get repopulated when Shem's daughters are old enough for Ham and Japeth to marry, but that whole second half of the movie, I just couldn't get past that change.  Rock monsters? Fine. Stowaway? Fine. Noah wants to make mankind go extinct? No.

Side-notes of praise: The entire flood sequence was great. Aronofsky has proven he can handle a budget. And the acting is great. Crowe, Connelly, Watson, Hopkins, Winstone, even Lerman as Ham. Poor lonely horny Ham.

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