Noah (2014) Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Aronofsky adds a biblical twist to the Lord of the Rings.
Noah (Russell Crowe) is Aragorn, the hero who emerges out of noble lineage to take on a mission that may cost him his life, the sacrifice he’s very much willing to risk. His grandfather (Anthony Hopkins) is Gandalf, white-haired, old wise man with magical powers and a quirky sense of humor. Noah’s sons are the hobbits, at times, helpful, and at other times, wayward, but altogether good at heart.
The Watchers are the Ents. The Ents’ last march on Isengard was an exciting battle with ugly, tree-chopping goblins (aka evil tree-chopping, animal-slaughtering people in Aronofsky’s version), a likely inspiration of the evil tribe’s attack on the Arc. The Ents’ last march aimed to protect the nature, protect the Middle-Earth. The Ents’ last march was just before the great waters came to swipe all the evil away from the face of the earth (aka the Flood).
The Arc is the One Ring, MacGuffin everybody’s after. And like in the Ring’s case, everybody wants to take advantage of the Arc, use it for good or evil. In the process, the characters are challenged by the Object (Arc, Ring – take your pick), forced to make difficult decisions: use the Object against its initial role, or stick with the mission? It reflects their character, their grit, or lack of it. And many people/creatures die trying to either defend or get it. In the end, the Object brings the characters to the top of the mountain where one world ends and the other begins.
Female characters (Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson) are a bit of a conundrum to me. It seems with so few of main characters, they should play an important role. Yet, their role (yes, one role for all of them) is to birth children. And they’re willing to submit to their role. They even protest when they are denied it. If this was supposed to be biblicized LOTR (even if it wasn’t), why is it so blatantly sexist? Tolkien created amazing female characters, who were both smart, fearful and skilled fighters, not primarily child “incubators.” Shame on you, Aronofsky.
The message of “Noah” is clearly environmental. Yet, with all magical special effects, walking lava creatures and postapocaliptic visions the earth resembles a different planet, or a different world altogether. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out whether I was watching LOTR’s biblical remake or Aronofsky’s end-of-the-world movie. Sadly (for Aronofsky), LOTR was already biblical enough and in a more subtle and insightful way. LOTR used a fantasy rhetoric to convey a Christian message. Noah drifts between adapting the biblical story and creating a fantasy story. I say: make up your mind, Noah. Your message is lost on me.
Long days, pleasant nights,