An Imperfect Storm: Noah

An Imperfect Storm:




I’m trying—I truly am trying—to approach director Darren Aronofsky’s film of the story of Noah with an open mind.  Because I believe that he made it with a sincere heart.  I think that he wanted it to be the best he could make it.

But I don’t get it. I really don’t get what he was after here.

Let’s begin with that famous quote from Genesis chapter 6 that kick-starts the tale of Noah; and it’s very much a short tale, I was surprised to learn.  It seemed a lot longer when I was at school, but in fact it only goes through to chapter 9:

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were men of old, men of renown.”

Now I think that leaves an imaginative person with several ways to go when it comes to committing something to celluloid—Hell’s fire, you could even just make the giants really big men.  Yet Aronofsky’s choice, having wanted to make this film for years mind you, is to make the giants a cross between Maximus Prime and his Transformers and that Rock Biter fella from The Neverending Story.

And at least for me, Noah never recovers from that.  From that point—and that’s right at the beginning– I could never take any of it seriously.  And we get everything thrown in!

There’s the tale of Creation and the Garden of Eden and the Apple and the Serpent… all of it.  It is never shown as metaphor, it is meant to be taken quite literally.  Yet all of these, although obviously intended otherwise, come across as elements in a fantasy film.  It doesn’t come across in the slightest as the Biblical Epic that Aronovsky seems to think it is but instead as a straightford film in the fantasy genre.  Frankly, I can’t see even the most extreme believer in literal Bible events buying into this.  Then again, you should never underestimate Creationists.

A real problem with the fantasy aspect is that the director and his co-writer Ari Handel don’t seem to have communicated particularly well with the hapless Russell Crowe (Noah) and Jennifer Connelly (his wife, Naameh) because they play it straight and naturalistic.  It’s not their fault; they just seem to be in a different film.

I’m still harping on these giant rock creatures who are in fact fallen angels.  And they’re called…The Watchers.  I have no idea if there is a Biblical tradition to back this up but to me it all sounds like one of Star Trek’s dodgier ‘60s episodes.  As one of them explains very portentously to Noah:

“Watchers have learned to fear men.  The Creator formed us on the second day, the day he made the heavens.  We watched over Adam and Eve, saw their frailty and their love; and then we saw their Fall and we pitied them.  We were not Stone then, but Light. 

“It was not our place to interfere.  Yet we chose to try and help Mankind.  And when we disobeyed the Creator, He punished us.”

Yes, well, quite.  That’s the all-forgiving God for you.

Emma Watson is in there as well and just gets better and better as an actress; here, though, it wouldn’t have seemed out of place if she had pulled out Hermione’s wand and called on Harry Potter for help.

Of course it’s an epic so we had to have Anthony Hopkins (who has turned into the biggest whore in Hollywood) dishing out lines with very deep meanings—if you’re ten years old—and, as Methuselah, looking like the world’s best-fed hermit.

And by the time that Ray Winstone wandered into the proceedings, doing his usual hard man act it was time to give up and pray for the rains.

Of course, Noah is visually superb in certain scenes, although even then it can come across as quite dull.  But this is for sure:  it is one of the stranger films you’ll see this year.

Just not in a good way. 

Author: Charley Brady

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  1. Yep Charley when those big giant talking rock creatures arrived on the scene it was all downhill from there, they were just so in your face to become unbearable.

    Hopkins is starting grate on me even more, I was never overly taken by him anyway, always thought he was overrated and full of his own self importance, but it seems once his name appears on a movie poster its dollar signs?.

    As for Aronofsky?, he was always a bit hit and miss with me loved “The Fountain” but this Noah missed by the proverbial country mile.

  2. You know, it’s damned odd but not only have I never seen ‘The Fountain’ but I had never even heard of it until last week! I can’t understand it, especially as I’m very fond of both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. I’ll have to rectify that soon. Did you see his first one (I think) ‘Pi’ by the way? Very intriguing.

    As to Hopkins I’ve enjoyed him in too much to just dismiss him like that; but this was certainly one of those (‘Alexander’s another) where he just walks through it, not even trying to look interested. Still though: ‘The Bounty’, ’84, Charring Cross Road’, ‘Remains of the Day’, ‘Shadowlands’…a long, long list of great stuff.

  3. Of course certain movies suit Hopkins style more than others, but if you look back on arguably his most famous role “Hannibal”, do you not think there are many more menacing actors that could’ve played Lecter better?, I enjoyed all those movies but Hopkins never cut it with me as a serial killer.

    I’m not sure if I saw PI? if I was to see it now something might jog my memory.

  4. I deliberately left out commenting on his Lecter portrayal. I think that it may be hard to recall how effective it was initially, so overdone has it become.

    Many people preferred the casting of the great Brian Cox as Lecter in’Manhunter’. I remember one perceptive critic at the time saying that with Cox the creepiness came from the fact that this guy had a complete lack of empathy with other humans– whereas with Hopkins later there is always the veneer of charm.

    Of course, neither captures the character of the novel. Two really freaky scenes in the second book stand out for me: one is where Lecter obsessively watches over and over the coffee cup scene from a Stephen Hawkins documentary, conceiving of his mad plan to replace his sister in the mind of Clarice. Or something.

    The other is where he’s playing his harpsichord and freezes in a silent scream of anguish as memories of his sister come flooding back. I wish they had put those in the movie.

    On the other hand, Alan Moore rather memorably described the sequel as a ‘load of old wank’. Heh.

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