Aronofsky’s Noah Looks Appropriately Epic, Not Terribly Religious

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 14 2013 11:39 AM

Aronofsky’s Noah Looks Appropriately Epic

noah_2
Noah as action hero, played by Russell Crowe

Paramount

Darren Aronofsky has been talking about adapting the story of Noah for years. He even collaborated on a graphic novel as a way of developing the story before funding for the film was secured. And he ultimately got quite a lot of funding: more than $125 million, reportedly, much of which went to CGI from Industrial Light and Magic that included “the most complicated rendering in the company’s history.” “We had to create an entire animal kingdom,” Aronofsky explained.

Those animals don’t show up much in the first trailer, though. The 2 1/2-minute preview nonetheless gives one a sense of the epic sweep Aronofsky is going for:

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The biblical story of the flood takes up just four chapters in the book of Genesis, so it’s not surprising to see some material here that looks a bit unfamiliar to those of us who went to Sunday school. In addition to Russell Crowe as Noah, for instance, we get Anthony Hopkins as his grandfather, Methuselah, a man who barely shows up in the Bible and is known mostly for his remarkable longevity. (He is connected to the flood in the noncanonical Book of Enoch, and later texts depict Noah and Methuselah preaching repentance together.) We also get hints of a massive battle between Noah and his contemporaries.

What we do not get are the heavy religious overtones of the trailer that leaked online a few weeks ago. That one opened with quotes from Genesis and referred to the flood as “the most remarkable event in our history” (my emphasis). This one, somewhat pointedly, I think, declares that “the story is more than you imagined” (my emphasis again). The religiosity (or lack thereof) has supposedly been a point of contention between Aronofsky and Paramount, which of course would like to sell tickets to the Christian moviegoers who showed up for The Passion of the Christ, for instance. They were likely disappointed when an early review of the script by a Christian screenwriter declared Aronofsky's Noah an “environmentalist wacko.”

Some of us, of course, are encouraged by that idea; the environmentalist overtones of the Noah story are among the reasons a movie seems worth doing now. And there are not many filmmakers I would rather see take it on than Aronofsky. His version is set to open next March.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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