Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

4/9/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The biggest problem with Aronofsky's Noah is the director's decision to use a theology and cosmology that can't be found in the book of Genesis.

I wish Aronofsky\'s Noah well, though I don\'t believe it will have much of an afterlife after its initial release. The task of bringing a movie of this scope to the screen is immense, as is the financial risk: Paramount put $300,000,000 into production and marketing costs. If nothing else, the film\'s initial success proves once again the potentially large audience awaiting well-made films on Biblical and religious subjects.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/9/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: Noah, movie, Russell Crowe, Darren Aronofsky, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - The very talented writer/director Darren Aronofsky would have been well advised not to entitle his movie, Noah. This name raises reasonable expectations in a viewer, such as the movie being placed within a Judeo-Christian cosmology and portraying the chief spiritual struggle of the main character.

Aronofsky's Noah -- a more suitable title -- has its virtues, but they are not enough to justify the huge effort that went into its production and marketing. Aronofsky's Noah will definitely not live to be regarded as a Biblical epic that parents pass on to their children.

Noah suffers in comparison with epics such as DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956), Zefferelli's Jesus of Nazareth (1968), and especially Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004): from its lame script, insipid music, and surprisingly pedestrian camera work, to the wooden performances from most of its principle characters. The only character coming fully alive on screen is the villain, Ray Winstone's Tubal-cain, the king of the descendants of Cain. Poor Jennifer Connolly, usually a welcome presence in any film, looks distressingly anorexic as Noah's wife Naameh and employs only one modulating facial expression for her dramatic moments.  Of Noah's four children only the teenage Ham of Logan Lerman displays a genuine rage against his overly-demanding father.  His scenes with Winstone are among the most convincing in the film.

Russell Crowe gives the best performance he can given his drab dialogue and a contrived narrative that turns his Noah into another Biblical character altogether, a kind of pseudo-Abraham. Evidently the spiritual challenge facing Noah in building an ark because of God's command was not compel-ling enough to Aronofsky and his co-screenwriter Ari Handel. Noah's seeming madness in contracting his ark was given minimal attention because the really big issue for Aronofsky's Noah is his interpretation of God's command, including the end of the human race. When his eldest son Shem, played by Douglas Booth, and his adopted child Ila announce they are expecting a baby, Noah declares that a female child would be "cut down" at the moment of birth. A son, he concedes, would be allowed to live on as "the last man."

The last half of the film depicts Noah as a kind of John Brown religious fanatic who has vowed to enact God's judgement on the human race. Of course, at the moment of decision, when Noah faces the newborn sisters, it's not God that holds back his dagger but the love he feels for his grandchildren. Thus, even as a cinematic take on the Abraham-Isaac story, Aronofsky misses the point. 

The biggest problem with Aronofsky's Noah is the director's decision to use a theology and cosmology that can't be found in the book of Genesis. The fallen angels become rockbound Transformer figures whose condition is a result of their attempt to help Adam and Eve after the Fall -- God punished them for their good deed making them earth creatures and vulnerable to human violence. God is revered by Aronofsky as the "Creator" but portrayed as an unyielding, unforgiving tyrant as "God." Did Aronofsky notice he has transposed Christology to these "Watchers," the fallen angels? The subject of love only arises when Noah is challenged by Ila to reconsider his judgement on her newborns.  To put it bluntly, by choosing the way of love Noah believes he has not carried out God's commands, which leads to his drunken dissolution and years of alienation from his family.  

Nonetheless, I wish Aronofsky's Noah well, though I don't believe it will have much of an afterlife after its initial release. The task of bringing a movie of this scope to the screen is immense, as is the financial risk: Paramount put $300,000,000 into production and marketing costs. If nothing else, the film's initial success proves once again the potentially large audience awaiting well-made films on Biblical and religious subjects.

But one nagging question remains: How could such a mediocre film have been made by such an established talent as Darren Aronofsky -- Requiem for a Dream (2000), The Fountain (2006), The Wrestler (2008), and Black Swan (2010), established his credentials as a major filmmaker. Was Aronofsky dealing with material that he didn't understand or didn't want to embrace on its own terms?  Was Aronofsky simply trying to become a major commercial success? His previous films were well-reviewed and well-received but not intended to be mass marketed products and potentially huge money makers.

Another excellent director who could not meet his own standard of filmmaking when he took on a Biblical subject was Martin Scorsese. His Last Temptation of Christ (1988), still sticks out like a sore thumb in a very distinguished career. I know Last Temptation has its defenders, including Scorsese, just as Noah will, but what these films have in common is a rather risible subtext that reflects, I assume, the respective director's own personal struggles with the faiths into which they were born, Judaism and Catholicism.

© Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for SEPTEMBER 2016
Universal:
Centrality of the Human Person: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.
Evangelization: Mission to Evangelize: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.



Comments


More Movies

Mark Wahlberg is set to play his most Catholic role ever Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Well-known Hollywood movie star and Catholic, Mark Wahlberg is gearing up for his most Catholic role ever. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mark Wahlberg, alongside director David O Russell, is working on an inspirational biopic about Father Stuart Long, an American ... continue reading


'The Story of Christ' to be told in Virtual Reality Watch

Image of Imagine standing next to Christ while he delivers the Sermon on the Mount.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A new film will allow people to experience the life of Christ in full virtual reality (VR). The new film aims to bring people closer to Christ by allowing them to experience key events in His life. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - "Jesus VR - The Story of Christ" ... continue reading


JESUS RETURNS: A sequel to 'The Passion of the Christ' confirmed Watch

Image of Jim Caviezel as

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Mel Gibson has confirmed a sequel to 'The Passion of the Christ' is coming. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In an interview with evangelist Greg Laurie at SoCal Harvest at Angel Stadium, Gibson announced there would be a follow-up to the hit independent film. "Of ... continue reading


Inside scoop for latest Clint Eastwood film 'Sully' - An interview with writer Todd Komarnicki Watch

Image of Take a behind-the-scenes look at

By Nikki Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Todd Komarnicki, a writer, producer and director, shares insight into the making of Clint Eastwood's "Sully," which saw a $35.5 million opening weekend. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Todd Komarnicki is known for writing scripts for "Perfect Stranger," "Sully," ... continue reading


Miracle on the Hudson - 'Sully' film review (NO SPOILERS) Watch

Image of A review of

By Nikki Crawford & Marisel Maldonado

The latest Clint Eastwood film, "Sully," will be released in theaters Friday, September 9. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Sully" is based on the real story of Flight 1549, when Canadian geese flew into the U.S. Airways Airbus' engines.Both engines lost thrust and ... continue reading


The MUST-READ 2016 'Ben-Hur' Review (NO SPOLIERS) Watch

Image of

By Nikki Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The 2016 "Ben-Hur" remake wows with an adrenaline-inducing chariot race and heartbreaking tale of betrayal. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The remake of classic film "Ben-Hur" maintains a similar story line as the 1959 version but portrays an updated version ... continue reading


Pope Francis blesses Ben-Hur actor and actors pull own stunts - Everything you need to know in tell-all exclusive interview with Roma Downey Watch

Image of Ben-Hur will be available nationwide in theaters August 19.

By Nikki Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

During an exclusive interview with Catholic Online, Hollywood film producer Roma Downey offered some behind-the-scenes insight to the upcoming film "Ben-Hur." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Downey, who starred in the CBS series "Touched by an Angel," is an actress ... continue reading


Ben-Hur reimagined: Read the EXCLUSIVE interview with producer Roma Downey now! Watch

Image of Ben-Hur 2016.

By Nikki Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Read the transcript of Roma Downey's exclusive interview with Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Downey was interviewed Friday, August 12 in regards to the remake of the cinema classic Ben-Hur.The 2016 release features the talents of Jack Huston and ... continue reading


What is a miracle? New film aims to explain the unexplainable Watch

Image of idisciple.org

By Tonia Borsellino (CNA)

For both skeptics and believers, miracles have captivated people's attention for thousands of years. Swansea, United Kingdom (CNA) - That same intrigue led St. Anthony Communications to produce their latest film, 'Miracles.'The 35-minute documentary is the first of a ... continue reading


Film spotlights Hillsong UNITED's remarkable journey from a youth group band at Hillsong Church to a worldwide recording and concert sensation Watch

Image of

By Press Release

Pure Flix is distributing HILLSONG-LET HOPE RISE, the highly anticipated feature film that chronicles the spectacular and miraculous rise to prominence of the Australia-based band, Hillsong UNITED. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Directed by Michael John Warren ... continue reading


All Movies News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5
1 Then from the heart of the tempest Yahweh gave Job his answer. He ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 139:1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14
1 [For the choirmaster Of David Psalm] Yahweh, you examine me and know ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:13-16
13 'Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 30th, 2016 Image

St. Jerome
September 30: St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous ... Read More