2014, Movies

Noah (2014, Darren Aronofsky)

I have long been a fan of Aronofsky’s, even of his misses – though I have yet to see The Fountain – because he has always made me think. His films provoke thought and discussion, and are also usually full of inventive direction and cinematography.

I am not sure I can think of another example of a Great or near-Great director exceeding his grasp like Aronofsky does here. (Though, again, I have not seen The Fountain.) This is a film that is so overdone, so self-serious and so unsubtle in its allegory – while at the same time, confused – that whatever neat little aspects of his filmmaking that have made it into this film are hard to get excited about.


First, the film is an allegory: the Flood is Global Warming…Whoah, dude, did I just blow your mind? Heavy shit.

Next, presumably this was thought to be maybe not quite palatable for us masses, so Aronofsky attempts to mix in fantasy adventure and action elements of something like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, but only for the early parts of this very episodic film. (I’m not exactly sure why he thought going to the action movie route was a good idea. It’s bizarre and features some stone angels – seriously, angels made out of stone – and other odd shit.)

Twice, Aronofsky uses still photography instead of montage, which would be a neat trick. The first time is to show god’s water spreading through the land, and that’s fine. But the second time is far more ridiculous, when Aronofsky tries to get us to take the opening of Genesis as an allegory for the creation of the universe, and earth specifically, as if

  1. the people who passed down the Genesis story had any idea about what was outside of their own little world and
  2. as if there was something noble to that view, as if it wasn’t just an outright ridiculously wrong guess about the world.

Once the Ark takes off, we then get a stowaway thriller combined with a bit of the Abraham-killing-his-son drama thing, the first of which absolutely feels like it is only happening to make the film longer, and the second of which feels transplanted from an entirely different part of the Bible. (I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t happen in the original version of the story. Also, if it does, holy unoriginality Christianity!)

The film is unnecessarily long, unnecessarily episodic, and just way too big for its own good. The point (I believe) Aronofsky is trying to make could have been made with far less excess. And I’m not sure this is the way to make that point, anyway. (I.e. why use a fantasy version of the biblical story of Noah’s Ark when you could just tell the original story of Noah’s Ark, or when you could write an original fantasy story?)

If you are looking for dystopian fantasies, there are far better out there. If you are looking for a unique interpretation of the Noah’s Ark story, just read Not Wanted on the Voyage.

At least it looked nice!


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