In Review: Noah

by Martyn Conterio on 31/03/2014


Darren Aronofsky’s last attempt to invoke a sense of spiritual and artistic grandeur resulted in The Fountain (2006). That film flopped but does have its admirers and, while not a cult film per se, there is a tendency to think of it as such. One dares to suggest that the same course is set for Noah’s future reputation. Does the director of such astonishingly confident and memorable indie fare as Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and Black Swan really have the chops to play the studio game and win?

Shamanic and trippy – this retelling of the Flood narrative is batshit crazy film-making, by Hollywood’s standards. If Michael Bay produces the definition of the summer blockbuster, then, Aronofsky has produced the ultimate anti-blockbuster. It’s true guiding spirit, in fact, is less ancient world mythology and more the sci-fi picture.

Russell Crowe, taking on saviour of mankind duties, hasn’t been this good in a very long time. Noah’s steely-eyed determination and unwavering commitment to his cause hinges on a Benjamin Willard-style madness, as the movie progresses.

Set in a world in which celestial fields above twinkle night and day, the Creator informs Noah (via visions of Blakeian intensity) that the reset button is being pressed on humanity and he’s been tasked with saving innocent animals from the forthcoming destruction. The film opens with what looks less like our planet decimated by early warring tribes and more like a post-nuclear wasteland à la Mad Max 2 (1981). Pipes and valves stick out of the barren earth – remnants of dark satanic mills, perhaps? Later, in a sequence recounting the story of the world’s creation, we see humankind’s struggle to contain the destructive force within, as soldiers battle one another, transforming from tribal costumes to much more modern dress. The movie’s sense of time and place is ahistoric and/or deliberately out of whack, because, the story of our arrogance and rape of the planet is relevant no matter what age it is set in. Time, then, is folded like a piece of bread into a sandwich. It’s a film presentation imagined through a blackhole as much as the camera.

As ever with Aronofsky’s oeuvre, there’s a mixture of the inspired and the film school grad show-off: Noah’s recounting of the Creation story, done as a time-lapse sequence, is a wonder to behold and the CG flood is a mighty vision. That the film is not above kitsch imagery is equally extraordinary.

Martyn has awarded Noah four Torches of Truth

four torches

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