Darren Aronofsky is a daring film maker who doesn’t let his critics get to him. Aronofsky is someone who’s true to himself. Aronofsky’s first big budget film The Fountain had it’s budget slashed due to production troubles and didn’t fare too well with critics but over time it’s stolen many hearts and is something Aronofsky is proud of. Aronofsky gets to have another shot at a big budget with Noah but again brings the controversy too. Films about religion are a very touchy subject as they are about sacrilegious figures that deserve the uttermost respect and most of the times movies can’t bring justice to them. Aronofsky does take liberties with the story of Noah and puts the uttermost care into making a film that appeals to everyone. Most importantly, he respects the story of Noah.
The original story of Noah is a short one that many know and the story's core does remain here. The liberties taken here are minor things like, making the Fallen Angels stone giants but their true form is still light. The reasoning for their stone giant appearance is explained and makes sense. Of course that might not have been how they looked at the time but no one knows how angels exactly looked like. They’re described to be stronger than humans and that’s what they are in the film. God isn’t referenced as God but as the Creator which pretty much means the same thing. It was a safer choice to pick that name to have it appeal to others and not to offend anyone. There is a subplot (won’t explain for spoiler purposes) that is added on the Ark and a nemesis created for Noah but those factors all help the message if anything. The subplot could be interpreted as a homage to religious figures Ibrahim (Abraham) & Ismail (Ishmael). These additions just help make the film a feature length rather than short 10 minute film.
The character of Noah is done justice here. Russell Crowe does one of his finest acting jobs and portrays Noah as noble man of faith. There are at times Noah is conflicted but he doesn’t question his faith like the many unbelievers have. Even his son Haim is tempted by the questioning of what’s happening and Logan Lerman surprisingly gives a strong performance, something the actor is really not known for. One of the problems here is the Ray Winstone’s excellently performed villain’s Tubal-cain and his army are very undeveloped. They’re intentions and reason for being evil is ambiguous but it can assumed from whatever knowledge you have the story. They could have shunned the belief of God and dibbled their lives in sin. On screen they’re portrayed as destroying land but obviously there is more to them than that. Their evil actions do capture the cause for the events of the flood. Tubal-cain is just evil for the sake of evil but Winstone is the genius in making this character something. Tubal-cain and his army could be symbolized as the decline & wickedness in humanity. Something that’s relevant today sadly. After the scene with the battle, the movie does tend to slow down but becomes a character drama about Noah & his dedication to his faith. It’s actually a beautiful story of whom Noah is.
The real stars of the movie are Clint Mansell & Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky takes us back to a time where things are simpler but he doesn’t try go for the big budget feel of movies like Troy, Kingdom of Heaven and Gladiator. He decides to shoot the movie as an indie film and that’s why the weak CGI works so well. It’s not a glamorous film but it’s beautifully shot. Instead of opting to tell the past in traditional storytelling, he tells them in montages with shadows. It actually works very well and it’s a trademark of his past films. One of my favorite scenes was the battle which is absolutely jaw dropping. . It’s beautifully shot, beautifully scored and Aronofsky throws you into the chaos of the battle. It’s a very involving scene. And the scene with the Ark traveling on the ocean is spectacular.
What elevates all these scenes is Clint Mansell’s music, a very rhythmic score. Mansell doesn’t opt for a typical big budget score, he adds a unique thematic take. It has a sense of old school epic movies like Ben-Hur, Ten Commandments mixed in with Mansell’s modern melancholic style. The combination is very pleasing. At times it’s reminiscent of his work from the Fountain. Even the slower scenes in the film are brought to a whole new level because of Mansell’s work. Mansell’s score not only works well in the movie but it’s something that can be enjoyed for pleasure. It’s very rare for composers to accomplish both.
Would I Recommend?
Darren Aronofsky might have created his most controversial film yet but it’s also one of his strongest films as well. Aronofsky does take his liberties with the story to create a full length motion picture but the meaning of the story remains intact. The story of Noah hasn’t felt more relevant than ever. As man, we can be evil, let ourselves bask in sin and believe what we only want to believe in. We let our wickedness run wild and ruin our world because of that. Wars, crime, hate, that certainly can’t be what we exist for. We are powerful beings and capable of great things as Noah has inspired us. He believed in doing the right thing and was able to mankind another chance. Noah is a powerful told film that even though isn’t 100% accurate, it’s a respectable film that reminds us of this inspiriting tale.