Back in April we learned that Russell Crow has been cast in the lead role of Noah in the forthcoming big screen adaptation of the Biblical tale of the Great Flood that destroyed the Earth, which will be directed by Darren Aronfsky. Today we learn a bit more about what to expect from the film. If you are familiar with the story of Noah, then the key elements of the tale should be familiar — God warns Noah that he will destroy the Earth with a flood, Noah builds an ark and tries to save mankind, no one but his family believes him so they collect 2 of every animal on Earth (a male and a female) and load them into the ark to repopulate the planet after the waters secede, the rainbow is the sign of God’s promise never to destroy the Earth with water again. But, in the hands of Aronfsky, Noah’s tale will be much grittier and scarier. Click below for some information about how Aronofsky plans to retell the tale of Noah for a modern audience.
When it was announced that Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s next film, was going to be a retelling of the Biblical figure, it was thought the Black Swan director was tackling a traditional, though surely still fantastical, version of the familiar tale. In fact, Paramount has been officially calling the film a, “close adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark.” But it’s not really that close of an adaptation. The last time we checked, and admittedly it’s been a while, the Bible’s Noah was not a Mad Max-style warrior surviving in a pseudo post-apocalyptic world and he didn’t have to face giants with six arms. Darren Aronofsky’s is and six-armed giants he does face. This isn’t a grand, out-of-nowhere revelation, either, it just happens to be something most (ourselves included) haven’t really picked up on or talked about with each new piece of casting. October 2011 saw the publication of the first entry in a graphic novel series created by Aronofsky, executive producer Ari Handel and artist Niko Henrichon, called Noah, For the Cruelty of Men. Here’s a translated description of the series, created to help sell the film to Paramount, from its French publisher, Le Lombard:
His name is Noah. Far from the stereotype of the patriarch that one appends the character of the Bible, he looked like a warrior. He looks like a Mad Max out of the depths of time. In the world of Noah, pity has no place. He lives with his wife and three children in a land barren and hostile, in the grip of severe drought. A world marked by violence and barbarism, delivered to the savagery of the clans that draw their reason to survive from war and cruelty. But Noah is like no other. This is a fighter and also a healer. He is subject to visions which announce the imminent end of the earth, swallowed by the waves of an endless deluge. Noah must notify his followers. If man is to survive, he must end the suffering inflicted on the planet and “treat the world with mercy”. However, no one is listening. The tyrant Akkad, who Noah went to visit in the city of Bal-llim, chased him and sentenced him to flee. After consulting with his grandfather Methuselah, Noah decided to rally to his cause the terrible Giants and accomplish the task entrusted to him by the Creator…
It seems the key concept there is “out of the depths of time.” This isn’t a historical period piece. Noah’s is a story that exists outside of what we know to be, which sounds almost like a Stephen King/The Dark Tower, ‘the world has moved on’ type post-apocalyptic scenario. It may not even be Earthly, it’s all just a vehicle for the Noah metaphor, and that’s fine by us. As for the ‘terrible giants’ mentioned above, Drew McWeeny at HitFix wrote about the casting of Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah and refers to a portion of the script where Noah has to travel through their land, presumably to seek their help, only in the script they’re called Watchers and are, as Drew puts it, “eleven-foot-tall fallen angels with six arms and no wings.”
As a child who grew up in the church, I am pretty familiar with most of the big Bible stories. To be honest, I have always considered the stories in childlike terms … by that I mean, in regards to the Noah tale, I always think about a big boat and a long line of animals being herded into the arc two by two … which isn’t very scary at all. But now, in this context, it makes sense to me that the tale of Noah could be pretty frightening. How horrible must the Earth have been if God was willing to utterly and completely destroy it? That is, according to the parameters of the story. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are legendary for their evil and, according to the Bible, are an example of how bad things got on Earth. I have to say … in light of this new info, I’m terribly excited to see what Darren Aronofsky has in store with this film. Some people may scoff at a Bible story being made into a film but I can now see how Aronfsky might be able to take a tale we thought we knew and turn it into something completely unexpected. This sounds very cool, actually. I can’t wait to see and learn more.