Easily one of the most preposterous stories in the Old Testament, Noah’s Ark holds very little allegoric value. The fact Darren Aronofsky picked this particular tale to make his first proper studio movie was surprising, to say the least.
Turns out the director of Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream knew exactly what he was doing. Noah is one of the strongest biblical adaptations ever made, probably because Aronofsky was bold enough to make the story relevant to today’s public. Furthermore, those who have condemned the film without watching it are exactly the kind of people that would benefit from it.
The basic story remains: God decides to wipe out the descendants of Cain via flood. The Creator spares Noah (Russell Crowe) so he can build an ark and save the animals. Aronofsky makes things interesting first by introducing the Watchers, creatures made of stone straight from Lord of the Rings (they are in the Bible, but never pictured them that way). The Watchers are protectors of men, disappointed they turned out a wicked bunch.
That’s not even the boldest move Aronofsky has in stock. The flood is just the centerpiece, a dramatic contrivance that sets up the main conflict: Noah believes God’s exterminating plan was supposed to include his family, but his son (Douglas Booth) and adoptive daughter (Emma Watson) are expecting a child. How far will Noah go to defend the Creator’s design? Most of his actions are based on dream interpretations, not direct orders…
Noah denounces zealotry in a very compelling fashion. In Aronofsky’s view, fanaticism is dangerous directly and indirectly, as it often triggers an equally violent response.
Crowe and Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife are superb, probably their best work since A Beautiful Mind. The younger cast members face a taller order: Watson, Booth and Logan Lerman try hard, but their characters are too complex to fully embody. No matter. Noah shows the potential of matching a visionary filmmaker with studio means.
Two prairie dogs and two ground squirrels. Noah is now playing.