Tuesday, May 20, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Noah

2014, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Pi) -- cinema

OK, let's skip the commentary on The Bible vs a liberal adaptation for the moment and harken back to how I learned of this movie. I had originally heard this was to be some sort of post-apocalypse Noah's Ark story, more allegory than adaptation. And that suited me fine; the idea of wiping what is left of mankind off the planet after they have done their best to wipe out the planet suits me fine. Unfortunately, these rumours were born of the brief shots of the gritty character costumes and some exposure to the graphic novel. Based on earlier scripts, it is brilliant, a euro style comic meant for a large format hardcover release, all painted images with gritty depictions of the decadent cities of mankind, full of waste and rampant industrialization. This is the seat of the rumours, that if the cities are industrialized then it had to be an other-than-Biblical world. Nuh uh.

But Aronofsy has not done a purely Biblical, as in western rewritten Christian story, movie but one that draws upon the more scholarly texts from Judaica. This considers Noah a 500 year old man, directly descended from Adam. We get to see the Antediluvian times, represented as Pangaea, a world covered by the megacities of the descendants of Cain. And hiding off in the wilderness eating only what they can gather, are the last descendants of Seth, Cain and Abel's other brother. The world is a wasteland, more Road Warrior than Eden. Cain's peoples have used up everything, in the not-even-attempted-concealment of a comparison to our own ecological behaviour. Their depredations encroach on where Noah and his family live in primitive peace, forcing them to flee into the even-more-wasted lands created by fallen angels. These are not beautiful and winged creatures, known as the Watchers, but rocky and disheartened over their treatment by both God and Man. And thus, Noah is presented with the dream of a flood.

We know the story. *deletes summary* The question posed here, is whether Noah's family was meant to be included in this replenishing of the planet or to join the rest of his species in drowning. At first, Noah is not sure, having not been given any sign one way or the other, but as time passes and the ark is being built, he becomes convinced that he and his family are meant to die. It horrifies them, especially when he claims he will have to murder the offspring of his son (a distractingly pretty man meant to play white Jesus in a TV movie) and daughter in law (not bad, need to be drowned people but adopted daughter). We see the weight this carries on Noah, a growing madness that breaks on the rocks as he holds the knife over his twin grandchildren. Even then it doesn't leave him, even after the waters recede and he finds himself drunk on wine and avoiding his family. He was not just an observer of the deaths of all other people, but a willing participant and no matter how much of a first person relationship he has with the Creator, that has to take its toll on him.