God Said to Noah, There’s Gonna Be a Floody-Floody

You may recall that I was quite interested in seeing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah movie, but various forces conspired against me seeing it in the theater. Beth and I finally managed to see it on DVD last night, and it kind of made me wonder why it seems like pretty much every movie these days has to be over two hours long. Not that it was boring or anything, mind you. I believe some Christian groups were complaining that the film wasn’t entirely accurate to the Bible story, as if it was originally based on first-hand sources or something. There were a few changes, like how Noah’s sons were married in the Bible, but not in the movie. That kind of makes the incest thing even more problematic, as it leaves even fewer people alive who aren’t blood relatives of Noah’s, at least as far as we know. It’s interesting that the movie never actually lets us hear the voice of God, instead leaving everything up to Noah’s interpretations of visions and such. While of course the prediction of the flood turns out to be true, Noah is left on his own to make most of the decisions, and the pressure really gets to him. His family questions why he didn’t allow any of the other people on the ark, and while he initially says they didn’t deserve to live, he later seems to regret that at least somewhat. With the lack of wives in this version of the tale, Noah originally plans to let mankind die out completely after he completes his mission, but there’s a wrinkle introduced when Emma Watson gets pregnant, and it turns out to be Viktor Krum’s baby. No, seriously, Watson’s character is named Ila, and is a girl Noah adopts who later becomes Shem’s love interest.

Noah says that he’ll let the baby live if it’s a boy, but will kill a girl because it could potentially reproduce. With whom, I don’t know. Wouldn’t the only men still alive be her father, grandfather, and uncles? Then again, you try living on a boat during an apocalyptic flood for months and see if your reasoning still makes any sense. Obviously he chooses not to kill the baby, which turns out to be twin girls, but there’s still the question as to how humanity can carry on from there, although I suppose it’s not directly relevant to the story. We should probably just be glad Jennifer Connelly didn’t give any of them up to the goblins.

The question of how Noah deals with all the animals on board the ark is dismissed with a drug that puts them all into hibernation for the duration of the voyage. Makes more sense than some of what I’ve seen apologists come up with. Conflict is added to the story in the form of Tubal-Cain, the father of metal-workers from Genesis 4, who here claims dominion over the entire Earth and isn’t too fond of Noah’s beliefs.

He actually sneaks onto the ark and influences Ham, who has some issues with his father.

Certainly worthy of note are the Watchers, stone giants with many arms who turn out to be the earthly forms of angels who tried to help mankind. Traditionally, the story of the Watchers is that they introduced various crafts to humanity, but ultimately had evil intent and led to their downfall. Here, the Watchers’ intentions were good, but they made some serious mistakes. One of them, named Og after the giant King of Bashan from Deuteronomy whom some sources say survived the flood by hanging onto the back of the ark, takes Noah’s side and convinces the others to help build the boat.

His voice is very much the traditional gentle giant one. Based on bits of the Bible and other sources that attempted to explain some of the oddities in Genesis, the descendants of Cain turned out to be incredibly advanced for their time, living in cities and even using guns, but also very careless and destructive. The message about humanity in our own time is not particularly subtle. It’s also interesting that they eat meat while Noah’s family does not, a nod to how a literal reading of Genesis indicates that God didn’t allow humans to eat other animals until after the flood. Methuselah, played by Anthony Hopkins, is presented as a mystic living in a mountain cave, and there’s a weird running gag about how he wants to taste berries again, which he finally does right before being swept away by the deluge.

Overall, it’s a quite impressive film, and it presents a take on the material that’s beholden to what came before but still original in many ways. And it’s always nice to see a film based on the Bible that isn’t preachy propaganda. Some of the choices made in the presentation were odd, but my general view of the movie is a positive one.

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6 Responses to God Said to Noah, There’s Gonna Be a Floody-Floody

  1. Joe says:

    Good review! I love this film and found it a refreshing take from the right-wing dogma that usually gets pushed. That the latter group couldn’t handle Noah as a three-dimensional human being, or the environmental or animal-rights views that the film holds dear (and which are scriptural) tells me how far removed from Christianity those sad people are.

    I wouldn’t have conflated the Watchers with the Nephilim, or portrayed them as stone giants (though that was an interesting perspective), but then again, I’d have likely made a three-plus hour film that spent more time in the corrupt society men had created.

    • Nathan says:

      I wasn’t sure why the Nephilim and the Watchers were combined either, considering that they’re both interesting on their own. On the other hand, I don’t think the sources we have are always that clear on which is which either. I believe I’d heard “Nephilim” used to mean both the fallen angels AND their giant offspring, although more often the latter. I can’t help but feel that the stone giants were sort of a throwback to the eighties, and the Nome King can certainly identify with the shame of being turned into a rock monster by Hollywood.

      • Joe says:

        Ha! I think Murch had difficulty envisioning a villain that looked like a short Santa Claus. Even with the brilliant Nichol Williams in the role, it’s a bit of a drop from the Wicked Witch of the West. Having seen Return to Oz first (that’s the film that brought me to the books), I was actually disappointed to discover that Roquat and the Nomes were basically roly-poly dwarves. The rock-beings of the film were a more interesting concept to me, even though from a technical standpoint, the stop-motion animation used to realize them doesn’t hold up so well (would love to see them employ CGI to update some of those effects).

      • Nathan says:

        I guess the closest we get to a rock monster in the Oz books is Crunch in Cowardly Lion, although Ruggedo DID become a giant in Kabumpo.

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