April 6, 2014 No Comments


When director Darren Aronofsky( Pi, The Wrestler and Black Swan) chose  the familiar biblical apocalyptic tale of Noah and the Ark  for his next film, many thought it was some kind of prank.  Controversy has followed the filming, production and premiers with much skepticism (and even some gnashing of teeth) regarding the purpose of such a project.  Blasphemy?  Commercial bandwagonism?  Ironic post-modern deconstructionism?  Another star-driven vehicle for Russell Crowe? (our Noah, of course)

None of the above.

There is no risk of spoilers in this review, since the outcome of the flood is no secret.  Aronofsky nonetheless succeeds in crafting a film that reflects his own unique style, ideals and purpose.  Certain liberties are taken with the story, but there is no post-modern “wink.”   Aronofsky’s Noah is a sullen hard-working, trying to do what is expected of him, which is of course, is the demand by  to build the ark which will avert the destruction of mankind by the famous flood.   Special effects(Aronofsky style) give us unusual visual images, including Transformer-like fallen angels who assist Noah in the construction process and fast-action montages to provide us some of the backstory of the decision to wipe man from the earth.  The flood itself has an action-movie look and Crowe’s Noah looks rather “Gladiator-esque” during a fair portion of the story.  Noah’s family (which includes Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson) is an usually attractive group for those struggling to eek out subsistence in a barren world.  Still, it is clear and compelling that Noah is tormented by the mandate he has been given and struggles to sort out the moral difference between those who are damned and those who will be spared.  Noah is a flawed hero (a very typical Aronofsky choice), whose limitations cause him to act punitively.  Aronofsky’s sincerity in addressing Noah’s psychic pain helps the film avoid parody or sanctimony.

It is a long film (some say too long), but the pacing seems to fit the story.  There seems to be an earnest nod to De Mille’s  biblical predecessor “The Ten Commandments’, which also managed to avoid total kitch (even with the casting of Vincent Price and Edward G Robinson).  Those who are critical of Aronofsky’s “over the top” treatment of the story should review the Old Testament story:  It’s hard to be more uber the top than the original.

Aronofsky was courageous to stick to his vision and to finish the journey true to the inspiration that sparked the film in the first place.

This is a must see movie, especially if you can find a rainy afternoon to see it.  Bring your umbrella!

Jolyn Wagner


Must See Movie of the Week

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