Sunday, March 30, 2014

Noah (USA, 2014)

Nine Things about the Movie Noah

1. This movie is loosely structured around the Old Testament story of Noah's Ark. But you should be warned, this is NOT the Bible story you grew up with. It was directed by Darren Aronofksy, who directed "Pi", "Requiem for a Dream", and "Black Swan." And he's an atheist. So if you were expecting a normal, safe Christian story, you need to learn your directors before you go see movies.

2. Aronofsky takes the classic, flawed Bible story and turns it into a majestic, visionary work of art that transcends religion. It's a layered and sophisticated examination of human nature, ethics, religious mania, self-doubt, and sacrifice. It's allegory and philosophy, wrapped in a myth.

3. In this movie, Noah is basically the world's first hippie. He and his family live in a wasteland straight out of the "Mad Max" movies. Noah's family takes care of all life, even flowers, while a distant relative - a descendant of the infamous Cain - is industrializing and destroying the earth. Oh, and there are some giant angry rock monsters living nearby, too.

4. Noah gets bizarre visions about the destruction of all life on Earth. He goes to visit his grandfather, the mystic Methuselah, for help. Methuselah gives Noah a drug that came from the Garden of Eden. After tripping hard for awhile, Noah knows what he must do... or so he thinks.

5. A barely-mentioned Bible character, Tubal-Cain, is the main bad guy - a warrior king who thinks that Noah might be crazy, but decides he wants Noah's stupid boat, just in case. So he prepares war on the family while raping and pillaging everything in his way.

6. By treating the story of Noah as an archetypal myth, Aronofsky frees himself to use it to explore the human condition in a way the Bible never could. It also means he's able to ignore problems with reality - like how all the animals find the ark, or how they all fit in it, etc.

7. Not only is the movie different than the Bible version, it openly contradicts it sometimes. To say too much more about the movie would be to give away spoilers that are best left discovered on your own.

8. Not surprisingly, many "traditional" Christians are upset about the movie (in a delightfully subversive twist, parts of the Bible are quoted - by the bad guys). The Hollywood studio that financed the film was afraid of this and wanted to change the movie to make it more acceptable to Christian audiences. But Aronofsky fought them, and won. He was allowed to make it how he wanted.

9. If you want a reverent, traditional Bible story that shows the courage and faith of a simple man who trusts in God during a time of darkness, then you need to find something else to see. Aronofsky gives us a daring and epic reinvention of the story that, while set 4000 years ago, is actually relevant today.