Darren Aronofsky may have waited four years to follow up his psychological/ballet thriller Black Swan with the biblical tale of Noah, but word is out that “you’re going to need a bigger boat,” is not something you’ll hear in the film. There are those, mostly Christians, who take a more literal view of the story about the “creator” destroying the world’s population with a flood that covered the Earth who are not particularly keen on the movie.
Noah, played by Russell Crowe, gets a message from the “creator” that tells him he needs to build a boat big enough to include his, Noah’s, righteous family and two of every type of animal on the earth. This means that a lot of folks who were running around in sandals “back in the day” would be left treading water until they were killed off by a “creator” who wasn’t happy with the way “man” was treating the planet.
To those who have followed the more Biblical version of this story, or the followers of most other religions that also also mention the great flood, it may come as a surprise that in Aronofsky’s epic tale of the world’s destruction that he’s gone the politically correct route of calling God the creator. Despite this attempt to please the vast majority of non-Christian movie-goers, quite a few Muslim countries have banned the film.
Not because of the story, but because Noah is depicted as being a prophet. Although they could be just as upset at the redefinition of why the creator decided to flush people off the face of the earth, except for the righteous family of Noah. There is that word again…righteous, which obviously means a family who do not mix well with others, are vegetarians, and who rely on giant rock-men to help them build their bigger boat, aka, ark. Noah himself is not “Mr. Happy.” He has a pretty black and white vision of the world and is fairly strict with his rules. He tells adopted daughter Ila, who is also Shem’s wife, that if she gives birth to a daughter, he will kill the baby. You can believe that he means it.
Of course the biggest problem behind making a film depicting the first end of the world and leaving out clear references to the big guy and man’s evil acts that allowed giants to roam the earth – i.e. rock-men who are the offspring of fallen angels and “men” – amongst other abominations mentioned in the Bible, is alienating a large part of your potential audience. Certainly, the Pope was not, seemingly, too enamoured of the idea since the filmmakers and Crowe did not get their requested audience with the head of the church.
This could be more to do with the fact that Aronofsky is an atheist and Crowe’s not being a Catholic, but special seats at a religious address is not a private audience. It may be that the modernizing of the tale to make the great flood more an ecological punishment for the way men were treating the planet “back in the day,” just doesn’t appeal to the Pope.
The big question about this ecological message in a Biblical film is this. Just how much damage could early man do? There were no factories, cars, massive paper factories that destroyed forests for paper products…well, the list could go on, but seriously, these people, who populated only a small portion of the planet, could not possibly destroy too much of it. At least not enough to make the creator angry enough to kill off the entire population sans one family.
As at least one reviewer points out, in Noah’s day, they did not need a bigger boat because there was not a lot of folks to save out of the entire world. Mainly because the world was a lot smaller back then. The same can be said of the population that filled it. The great flood, that in the Bible says covered the world, could possibly only have been that portion of the world, the bit that had X amount of people on it. Still, the film, which opens tomorrow, has been getting pretty good reviews regardless of what viewers believe or do not believe. It seems like a pretty cracking yarn, it should be considering what it cost to make, and might still be worth a look. If for no other reason than to see Russell Crowe play a righteous man.
By Michael Smith