First NOAH Clip: Hey Kids, We’re Building An Ark
I'm writing this from Mexico City; Paramount flew me down here to attend the world premiere of Darren Aronofsky's Bilical epic Noah. This was apparently Aronofsky's idea (I don't know if I was his choice, but flying down a bunch of goons was his idea) - chatting with him before the premiere he made it clear he wanted us film blogger types to spread the word that his movie isn't your standard stuffy Biblical epic. This isn't Son of God. He's less worried about offending the Evangelicals than he is with alienating the fanboys, who he thinks will appreciate the epic, fantasy sweep of his film.
I'm not allowed to review the film until opening day but I can tell you that Aronofsky wasn't kidding when he said this is a fantasy film. The marketing still shies away from that - you haven't gotten a good look at the giant, rock-covered, multi-limbed, battle-ready fallen angels known as The Watchers, for instance - but it's all there. The fantasy stuff is cool, and Aronofsky posits a totally different world and technology that is wiped away and lost forever after the flood (even the sky looks different back then), but that doesn't seem to be the toughest sell to me. The toughest sell is the film's tone - Noah is basically a movie about a zealot doomsday prepper who is proven right, and it ruthlessly follows through on his commitment to fulfill the wishes of God... as he sees them.
That's a tough sell because how do you get that across? The clip above has Noah telling his family the task that God has laid out for them, but you'd need to watch the rest of the movie to truly understand how Aronofsky approaches the morality and meaning of that task. The story of Noah and the ark is a weird Sunday school tale because it requires you to skip over the big questions like "Was EVERYBODY else on Earth bad and deserving of death?" and "Why do all the animals have to die as well?" and "What kind of God does this sort of thing anyway?" - questions that Noah struggles with throughout its running time.
So yeah, there's a big fantasy component, and Aronofsky gets to go cosmic again, but what makes Noah unique - what makes it a Biblical film in the spirit of The Last Temptation of Christ more than The Ten Commandments - is the way it takes the simple facts laid out in the clip above and goes with them pretty much all the way into moral ground so murky that the bad guy in the film gives a speech that would have been a hero speech in The Lord of the Rings. In terms of the issues it tackles and the way it addresses them, Noah is certainly one of the strangest, most unique and bravest wide release movies in memory.