First thoughts on the Noah trailer

Now that the first trailer for next year’s Noah movie from director Darren Aronofsky is available, let the nitpicking begin. Few things bring out the critics – whether they’re defensive scriptural literalists or scoffing religious skeptics – than a Hollywood Bible epic.

For my part, I’m less interested in whether or not Noah (Russell Crowe) is wearing the right shade of sandals than if the movie seems to place this particular Bible story within God’s overall narrative of creation-fall-redemption-restoration. (As a fan of Aronofsky, director of The Fountain and Requiem for a Dream, I’m also curious to see if he’s able to put his distinctive stamp on this behemoth of a production. Alas, aside from a quick shot of watery mud squelching through Noah’s feet, much of this could pass for the work of Roland Emmerich.)

The Noah story takes place within the “fall” chapter of God’s narrative, and this trailer at least recognizes that. Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) tells Noah that if man continues in his ways, “the creator will annihilate this world.” There’s even a villainous figure (Ray Winstone, doing his best Mickey Rourke) who seems to represent mankind at our worst.

Yet there’s also a nod to the coming redemption when one character (Emma Watson) observes that this is the “end of everything” and Noah replies, “The beginning. The beginning of everything.” Noah is, after all, one of the Bible’s most covenantal figures – the one man God reached out to, spared and promised to love through successive generations.

So count me intrigued, if a bit wary of those CGI lions and tigers and bears. How about you? What do you make of this trailer, and what do you look for in a Bible epic in general? Explicit fidelity to the details of the text? Resonance with God’s greater story? Charlton Heston? Share your thoughts below.

 

Comments (9)

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Hey, the flower opening was also a pretty Fountain-esque Aronofsky shot.
I'm hopeful, despite the animals. There are kind of a lot of animals.
I'm intrigued, despite the obligatory gratuitous epic battle.
Count me intrigued as well. The film will obviously take liberties with the biblical text, but I thought the trailer highlighted key themes in a way that was consistent with the biblical narrative.
Twill be an epic movie full of dazzling visuals but I have a feeling the biblical point will be twisted. The group that approaches the ark and Noah saying, "there's nothing for you here," defeats the purpose of Noah's lifelong preaching to his violent generation.
I think it is always interesting to see how Hollywood moviemakers reinterpret Biblical stories. Sure they will not be true to the text but they are trying to make an interesting movie and will bring out points about the story that they believe will interest a post-modern moviegoer. The movie will tell us as much about ourselves as it will the Bible.

Plus, it shows how relevant the Bible is to the human story. Thousands of years later we are still returning to the epic stories found in it. It was written to be interesting and relevant, no matter the time or place.
In the end, my excitement for Noah has little to do with the trailer, and more to do with the person interpreting this story. I think much can be gained from a thoughtful artist's approach to any aspect of faith and the Bible, regardless of their intended faithfulness to the text.

A great example of this is the middle section of the New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, where he breaks from the narrative for an 80ish page speculative analysis of the Tower of Babel. It equals some of the best writing on the Tower of Babel story (academic or fictional), and even if it doesn't hold up under close scrutiny, has some great insight on the story itself and the ability to activate the imagination on stories some people might have heard a thousand times. If Noah plays even a fraction of the way that section of the New York Trilogy did, I think I will be more than satisfied, 2 of every CGI kind of creature or not.
I look for the same thing from any movie that takes its source material from a literary work (and Genesis IS a literary work, even if a divinely inspired one). I look for a distinctive work of art that resonates with the author's key themes in an effective way. So I don't mind if the filmmaker takes minor liberties with the textual details--even biblical details--so long as the filmmaker remains true to the message and basic content.

What troubles me the most in biblical epics is when the creators take liberties with characters' motivations or write in their own theologies. I would be very upset if "Noah" ends up looking like "Gladiator" meets "Evan Almighty."
I've never been a fan of Bible flicks. The directors' exegesis never matches mine, and I think the Word was made to be preached, not filmed in a zillion images. Further, a movie, in my opinion, tends to degrade the Word as in a few years the special effects of the movie will look anachronistic and cartoonish.
I'm intrigued...excited for this film, actually. Whether it is textually accurate or not doesn't really bother me. This film should open the doors for some really good conversation opportunities.

 

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