I haven’t watched all of Ser Aronofsky’s films. This mainly because I hated Requiem For A Dream with passion and it came early enough that I literally shunned all of his other movies until Black Swan. I hated Requiem For A Dream because beyond being disturbing, which I found the most thought-provoking part of it at the time, I didn’t think the film had much to say beside « drugs are bad for you ». It didn’t help that I was studying digital and fine arts at the time, and every single one of my comrades LOVED that movie.
Then came Black Swan. I stared daggers at the posters for weeks before it came out, mumbling that I wouldn’t go see it because I was still mad at Aronofsky for Requiem For A Dream. At the same time, Natalie Portman and Swan Lake were involved. Tempting. I ended up seeing it, although not very willingly… And I loved it. The twisted characters, the despair, the body horror, the complexity of the relationships between the characters, all of which impeccably acted and executed. Black Swan was one of my favourite movies of that year and stays quite high up on my list of favourite non-animated movies to this day. It was bold, it was dark, it was everything I wanted and more.
Then, came Noah.
Noah is pretty fascinating in many aspects. It plays out like a big fantasy blockbuster, all the while presenting a certain Aronofsky edge. Sure, it’s not as deep and complex as, well, Back Swan, but the take it has on religion makes it worth watching and thinking about. Hell, everybody is fighting over that movie. I was fighting with the two friends who saw it with me, literally two minutes after we got out of the theatre. And religious people themselves? Honestly, I think that any movie that upsets the religious people (mostly the conservative, integrist, and annoying religious people) is worth checking out – for better or worse.
So, let’s get that out of the way right now: yes, Noah is a movie inspired from the biblical story of Noah. I know that Biblical movies upset a lot of people, I get that, but I personally take the Genesis and all the early stories from the Bible as mythology. All the cool people have one: the Ancient Greeks, the Ancient Egyptians, the Norse people, the Persians, the Celts. Do we want to be cool or not? Plus, when we stop cringing for a second and think about it, the Old Testament has some pretty crazy shit going on. Might as well have fun with it.
Plus, on top of the biblical/mythological stuff, there is a good layer of Aronofsky weirdness in Noah, that makes the whole thing part awesome, part though-provoking, and just plainly dark and bizarre. The Apple from the Adam and Eve story is disturbingly similar to a beating heart. The land Noah and his family live on has been destroyed by people who are supposed to be their distant cousins. People get trampled to death, beaten to a pulp, raped, or murdered, every two minutes. A guy eats a raw snake (hopefully not a real one, though). Noah kills billions of people just to follow some prophetic dream he had. Anthony Hopkins gets people super horny by touching their navel. And beyond that, man, does this film reek of despair and sadness. If Aronofsky is good at one thing, it’s making you believe in the end of the world. I notably watched the movie with someone who had never seen any Aronofsky movie before. He is traumatizaed to this day by Noah‘s utter darkness.
Aside from that, the universe is kind of awesome, in a high fantasy kind of way. There are giant rock monsters who used to be angels who apparently come from space, magical snake skins, flaming broadswords, semi technologically advanced people, shiny orbs that explode and make fire, and Anthony Hopkins plays the weirdest version of Gandledore ever. Yes, the same guy who gets people horny by touching their belly button.
All of this is pretty nice, but the reason why Noah is controversial, interesting, and pretty clever in its own bizarre way, is Noah himself.
Guys. Noah is insane in this.
It is not played that way all throughout the movie, but take for example Prince Of Egypt. In Prince Of Egypt, as in the Bible, Moses is a dude who talks to God. Literally. There’s a flaming bush that just tells him « Yo, I’m God. Sup. » There is no such thing in Noah. Sure, God apparently creates everything and presumably sends rain and makes water burst out of the ground to flood the Earth. However, first of all, he is called « The Creator », never God. Then, we don’t really have much proof of his existence. Most of the time, people talk to him and actually never get an answer. Also he lives in space, which is totally cool. And Adam and Eve kind of look like aliens, too, because why not.
Also, no offense to Noah’s faith, but constantly interpreting everything that happens around you as a divine sign is a symptom of mental illness. This becomes particularly true during the second part of the movie by the way, but I don’t want to go too far into spoiler territory.
Alright, I know my review is kind of mess, but that’s also because the movie is a mess in itself. It’s kind of brilliant in its weird way, but it’s still all over the place. Does it want to be spiritual? Yes. It illustrates it kind of brilliantly in the most perfectly executed genesis sequence I’ve seen in a movie. Does it want to shake things up for religious people? Yes, definitely, see the same sequence, and the rest of the goddamn thing. Is it preachy? I don’t think so, but it’s just my opinion. The very last scene left me dissatisfied on that particular end, by the way. Is Noah good, though? I don’t know, but I sure as hell enjoyed it.
Why did I like it though? I think it’s mainly because it was something else. It’s one of those movies that you get once in a while, that is so bizarre that no one has any idea what to do with it.
At least, it finally allowed me to get over Requiem For A Dream.