Last night I went to the first showing of Noah. My reaction during the film were across the board of feelings of wonder, joy, sorrow, and horror. Yet, what I can say first and foremost is that the movie is absolutely beautiful. Director Darren Aronofsky is known for his beautiful, even raw shots in films such as Requiem for a Dream. On the scale of the Biblical epic that surrounds the events of the flood he did not hold back in illustrating the struggle, both natural and human elements, founded in the story. For Christian viewers hoping for a positive message or some obvious sense of God, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. I’d even go as far to say that trying to insert how the flood occurred will make this movie rough for you. Aronofsky has a Jewish background and it comes out strongly through this movie, from the traditions that Noah and his family par take, to the imagery that is continually present throughout the film. There were still implicit movements of the Holy Spirit that I thought were more telling and beautiful than an obvious command from the Lord. Noah was about the flood, yet it was also about the family that was given the mission and blessing to be the new root of humanity.
(Spoilers)Alright, now I’m going to launch into a real analysis of the film or at least the places that struck me the most/meant the most to me. Now to start at the beginning…we find Noah(Russell Crowe) with his father, Lamech(Marton Csokas), about to undergo the right of manhood. This is all interrupted when the sons of Cain come and kill Lamech and Noah flees.
Flashing forward to when Noah is now a father of three boys, Shem(Douglas Booth), Ham(Logan Lerman), Japheth(Leo McHugh Carroll). We watch as the they carry on and are always on the watch for the sons of Cain. Noah is then approached by a dream/vision, which is basically how God speaks to Noah throughout this film. He is the only one to receive any guidance, which is mostly locked into random images of the the Garden of Eden, the Fall and Cain’s betrayal of his brother, Abel. And he is then struck by the image of the entire world underwater and the movie’s conflict/plot is set.
We come into contact with the Watchers, which for some may be the most ridiculous part of the movie. These stone giants, contorted horribly and multiple armed, but are actually angels that sought to help Adam after the exile from Eden. Yet, there was something utterly fantastic about them that kept me interested and they fulfilled a role in helping Noah with building the ark. Another note should be made upon Methuselah(Anthony Hopkins), who provides the role of priest/wise-man up until the flood. His rather humorous ‘berry obsession’ was something that was endearing, but never over the top. He provides a pseudo father figure to Noah, in trying to tell Noah to trust himself and what he has heard from the Lord.
The coming of Tubal-cain(Ray Winstone) and his ilk provides not only more conflict aside from the flood, but brings out the human drama that Noah and his family had to endure. It may seem shocking to see how Noah changes in his perspective in seeing the wickedness of Man and knowing that the fallen nature of Cain is in all of us, but to me it is almost understandable. I found Tubal-cain an interesting character insofar as he only wanted to hear from God. “Man was made in His[God’s] own image” as it is pronounced multiple times by him in the film and the distortion of what this means comes out in how man has twisted the world to his goals and desires. A strong moment is at the point before Tubal-cain leads the charge against the ark, hoping to save himself, he shouts to the sky “Speak to me!”. There are no agnostics in Aronofsky‘s film. Every person/being is fully aware of their Creator, despite whatever misgivings or even hatred they have of Him.
The drama on the ark between Noah and Ila(Emma Watson) is incredible. It made me shift uncomfortably in my seat to think he would kill his own granddaughter and therefore bring alienation upon himself from his family, but it played out beautifully. In a situation where they witnessed the destruction of thousands if not millions of people, how can anyone believe they are worthy to be saved? We have lovely Jennifer Connelly playing as Noah’s wife, Naameh, who gives a marvelous performance as well as a mouth piece for God’s Love/Mercy. It all comes down to the miracle that is new life and the beauty of new creation founded in the twins that Ila gives birth to, which stops Noah in his tracks.
As the final resolution to the conflict we find him drunk in a cave. Which honestly is another excellent mark of the film, because Noah despite forever being in our minds from Sunday school as a servant of God, we find a distinctly human man, who is filled with self loathing and feelings of failure. It is here when his sons come and comfort him. It is this starting moment that Noah finally achieves a sense of peace with what he has accomplished. He has done all the Lord asked him, despite the dramatic cost it has brought upon his family and himself. He took on another burden too with failing to see the goodness of new life and innocence in Ila’s babies at first and could not forgive himself for nearly killing them. In the last shot of the film though that it all comes together and ends in Noah reciting passages from the Old Testament and the sky is literally filled with the colors of the rainbow. The darkness that the family has endured has been overcome and now beauty, new creation and life have begun anew for all of them.
I promise go see the movie, you will not be disappointed. It is already my favorite for this year.
*Last Note* -There has been a lot of talk on how Noah presents an ‘environmental message’. I’m going to be frank and say take your head out of your ass. If you are only seeing that superficial message you are missing a huge portion of the movie. Noah was given the task of saving the animals and man, of course there’s going to be mention of saving the earth, but it’s an emphasis on stewardship. I could go on, but I might save that for another post.