Hollywood has not released a big bible epic in a long time, and they’re hoping to recapture this market yet again with Noah, with stars Russell Crowe (in the title role of Noah), Jennifer Connelly (as his wife Neemeh), Anthony Hopkins (as grandfather Methuselah) and Emma Watson (as rescued Ila).
Had this been a film by another name, it would have been a fantasy adventure, and appealed to audiences with a penchant for films such as 2012, or similar world ending disasters.
But, it purports to be telling the account of Noah, the one who built an ark, who placed two of each animal on board, and who survived the wrath of God, who sent the rains to drown the evil of the world. It’s in this, that it becomes total fiction, with rock monsters, a rewrite of the family of Noah, a grandfather who is more of a witch doctor, all walking an Earth that looks like it has been ravaged by a nuclear war, and not one of thousands of years back that is about to be washed clean.
God is never referred to directly, but rather as ‘The Creator’. Perhaps this is a way to get around the scores of Christians and Jews who will become outspoken about his story. The film is already banned in much of the Middle East, as it is said to be against the teachings of Islam.
Noah is a fictitious story, of a slightly psychotic man, inspired by the biblical story. If viewers approach this looking to watch a work of fiction, and can set aside the fact that there are things taken from the bible, they might find entertainment value, and enjoy the story and visuals (all the animals, and much of the landscape were created with visual effects).
Writer, director Darren Aronofsky has admitted to being fascinated with Noah from childhood, but perhaps a truer portrayal, or a completely fictional story would have served him better.
All the negative about the story aside, the film is visually compelling, with some great performances by the cast. Emma Watson shows she has moved on from the world of Harry Potter, and should be taken seriously as a young adult in the world of film.
The film is bound to attract a large audience, those looking to see what all the controversy is about, those seeing the film for religious reasons, and those looking just for an escape to enjoy some entertainment. The last group are bound to find the most enjoyment, while the former groups are likely to be inspired to much debate.
Noah opens 4 April 2014 in South African cinemas.