Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Beginning of Everything

Last night I watched the movie Noah, which was released earlier this year and directed by Darren Aronofsky, of Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and Pi fame.  It is an interpretation of the classic, biblical story of Noah's Ark that we all know.  An interpretation.  It's definitely not what you expect, and in a way that makes it even more worth watching.  Aronofsky decided to take a more mature route, highlighting the fact that Noah was just a man, and therefore had the same faults and conflicts that we all struggle with.  He is played by Russell Crowe, who I am normally quite annoyed with by his smug arrogance, but he keeps this portrayal more subdued.  Jennifer Connelly plays his wife, they have three sons, and take in an injured girl, played by Emma Watson, they find in the barren, grey landscape.  On the way to see Noah's grandfather, a charming, wizard-like Anthony Hopkins, they come across some giant rock figures (resembling the tree creatures from Lord of the Rings) called Watchers, that are actually fallen angels left in this debilitating state by The Creator, who end up helping Noah build the Ark.

Noah, who we all think of as this perfect, morally astute man, gets caught up in the eternal plight and conflict of being a man.  After all, he is just a man.  All of his decisions are based on his interpretation of a vision from The Creator, with no input as to if he is correct or not.  Without giving away too much of the story, he becomes so entranced in what he thinks The Creator wants, that he strays from the characteristics that makes man different from the animals (compassion, love, mercy, rationality, etc), and becomes the type of man that betrayed The Creator in the first place.

Aronofsky was smart in leaving these types of questions and interpretations up to the viewer, instead of outrightly saying it.  After all, that is the whole point of religion; what does it mean to you, and how does it influences your own life and decisions.  If you look past the sci-fi and blockbuster elements, it's a really interesting take on this classic story, and makes you think about it a little deeper, and from a different angle than what they teach in church.  Noah had to leave all of humanity to die, which is shown in a very poignant scene where the family hears the muffled screams of people drowning outside of the boat.  This is after they've pointed out that not all the humans in the bad guy's outfit are bad, but they are left to die anyway.  Would you be able to condemn every other human on Earth besides your family?

Overall, I think it is a movie worth watching.  If not for the story, watch it for the visuals.  Everyone is dressed in Waterworld-like, pieced-together outfits, the music (by Clint Mansell, an Aronofsky regular) sets the hurried, running out of time feel; both give the sense of a non-descript time period, like it could have happened a long time ago, or it could happen in the future.  There are also these really cool time-lapse, montage sequences.  Check out the story of Creation here (make sure you watch the whole thing).

(photos collected from truthwithsnares, suchacritic, static.rogerebert, media3.s-nbcnews, nowuc, and timesofisrael)

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