Action over spirituality

This is an American film about Noah and the Ark he built for God. Noah (Russell Crowe) has visions of a deluge sent by God that will cover the Earth, and he wants to protect his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and children.

The producers of the film claim that the movie doesn't deviate a great deal from what the Bible says. It obviously does. In fact, the movie has aroused considerable religious controversy among several Christian groups and prominent theologians.

Noah's family and hundreds of animals were put on the Ark to survive the flood, but Noah is obsessed with thoughts that mankind does not deserve to be saved, and he has to do what he thinks God wants of him. The term 'God' is hardly ever mentioned in the film; reference is nearly always made to 'The Creator.' In order to give the movie the look of reality, the director of the film, Darren Aronofsky, uses a compelling array of special effects. He creates, for example, an entire animal kingdom.

Aronofsky chooses to depict Noah as a dark, conflicted character, who feels guilt about the lives he has not been allowed to save. The movie has a dominant environmental ethic running through it, and it borrows fantasy figures from other movies. For example, God's six-armed angels led by Samyaza (voiced by Nick Nolte) are called 'The Watchers.' The fantasy depicted in the Lord of the Ring series has clearly influenced Aronofsky in the film's making, and The Watchers play a dominant part in the film's early action scenes.

Basic elements depicted in the narrative of the Bible remain, such as God's sadness at the wickedness of Mankind, Noah's concern for the environment, his risk-taking, and Noah as a righteous man who is motivated to do all that he thinks God is wanting him to do. He builds the Ark to save life on Earth from the flood, but he knows that only he and those on board the Ark will survive.

The religious controversy essentially rests in the film offering a complex interpretation of the nature of Noah's righteousness. Noah is depicted as someone who fights with his enemies, putting his will above the love he has for his own family, as he prepares for the worst. Russell Crowe takes the part of Noah with typical charismatic intensity, but he fights almost single-handedly against the dramatic incoherence that lies at the film's heart.

Under Aronofsky's direction, the film is about one man (Noah), motivated strongly by an environmental ethic and pathologically obsessed with doing The Creator's will. It is not a religious or spiritual movie at all.

When the final credits roll by, not a lot of viewers will have seen anything in this movie to worry them greatly about what they think the film is saying. It is a film that concentrates more on action and visual spectacle.

- Peter Sheehan, ACOFB

Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Nick Nolte. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Rated M (Mature themes and violence). 138 min.


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