How does a story from tenth century BC become so pertinent to our 21st century reality? The simple story of the world drowning in wickedness, which needs to be cleansed and rebooted as it were, so that it can start afresh and hope that the selfish, self-consumed human being will decide to follow the path of righteousness. I was amazed at how relevant this simple story can be to our modern reality. I wasn’t able to find a similar human to Noah, who would be tasked to save the world by building an arc. However, it didn’t take too much persuading to agree that the wickedness in the world needs some heavy duty cleaning.
On the one side we have Noah, who has been chosen by creation to cleanse humanity’s sins and the other side we have Tubal-cain, the self-proclaimed king of humans, who believes in the right of human beings to subjugate all beasts, believing that the creator created humans in his image and thus meant to rule the world. These two men stand opposite to each other as the models of good and evil; very typical of most religious tales. Additionally Noah asks us our existential question pretty directly, what are we doing to this world and do we deserve to live on without any consequences? The obvious pitfalls with this story is the notion of a miniature world, where the earth (in its flat avatar) exists and nothing else. Where the creator created animals and plants and all that lives with the idea of a paradise, where all would be perfect and live in total harmony. While we may have more information of the ‘real’ world that we live in today, that the universe is indeed infinite and that the Earth is actually round, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we have done everything in our power to destroy the Earth (slowly extending our destruction to outer space) and we seem to be spiralling out of control with every passing decade/century.
While wickedness in Noah’s version of the world is greed, power, disrespect for human and other life, all of which caused the fall of man, It is extremely difficult to not see the conflict zones Syria, the Middle East, the Ukraine, Thailand, despotic rulers in Zimbabwe, Central Asia etc., basically begging for the fall of man. Simple answer: we really need an act of god!
Visually the film is stunning, Aronofsky captures Iceland and its rawness masterfully on camera. The ark is grand and while the animals who made their way into the ark some few and far between, the film did create a visually engaging story. For someone not versed with Judaeo-Christian history and had some fleeting knowledge of the story of Noah, Aronofsky’s twist to the story was very interesting and extremely appropriate to make it relevant to our modernity. Had the film stuck to its original narrative and stayed true to its biblical version, I am not sure the film would have accomplished much. The mark of Aronofsky’s craft meant that Noah became a question that I asked myself. Both Russell Crowe as Noah and Jennifer Connelly as his wife Naameh play their parts perfectly, while Anthony Hopkins as Noah’s father Methuselah is simply brilliant.
Outside the scope of the film, I don’t see Noah’s story as an answer to our ills. How many arks will we build, how many Noah’s will there need to be for us to just find some basic human commonality in all of us: our humanity? The embarrassing thing is that even a make believe, part religious, part fictional story from over thirty centuries ago makes me feel ashamed of the world we have created for ourselves. This goes to validate what Noah says in the film, 'Till the humans came, the world lived in complete harmony and it was paradise.' Sheer truth!
Image source: collider.com