Review

The Dove
A Poem by Darren Aronofsky
January 13, 1982

Evil was in the world
The laughing crowd
Left the foolish man at his ark
Filled with animals
When the rain began to fall
It was hopeless
The man could not take the evil crowd with him
But he was allowed to bring his good family.

The rain continued through the night
And the cries of screaming men filled the air
The ark was afloat
Until the dove returned with the leaf
Evil still existed.

When the rainbows reached throughout the sky
The humble man and his family knew what it meant
The animals ran and flew freely with their newborn
The fog rose and the sun shone
Peace was in the air
And it soon appeared in all of man’s heart.

He knew evil would not be kept away
For evil and war could not be destroyed
But neither was it possible to destroy peace
Evil is hard to end and peace is hard to begin
But the rainbow and the dove will always live
Within every man’s heart.

From the mind of Darren Aronofsky comes the biblical epic Noah, which has resonated in the mind of the director for over 30 years.  The poem above was written when he was just 13 years old, a very introspective 13 year old, who had a specific view of the story.  The classic ying and yang/good and evil, was on the mind of this contemplative kid.  The stories of Noah’s Ark and/or the great floods have been seen and told throughout countless civilizations and cultures, spanning countless years.  Aronofsky brings his vision of the story to the screen, with the intention of telling his own interpretation, as the story is not a direct translation from the Bible (which is in itself someones interpretation), and only loosely based on what is described in the book.  Russell Crowe stars as the title character, who on the word of God, builds an ark to protect all the animals on earth from the impending flood that will wash away the wickedness of man.  Humans are either descendants of Cain (who slew his brother Abel) or his brother Seth, from whom Noah and his family are descendants.  Those who descended from Cain have laid the world to ruins.  The world is destroyed and evil rests in their hearts.  Noah and his family, consisting of his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), sons Ham (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth), and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll) must build the Ark, and preserve the precious life on earth.  On the other side of the spectrum is Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) who, with his followers, is determined to stop Noah from completing the Ark.  With the help of The Watchers, Noah and his family hurry to complete the Ark before the rain, and before the descendants of Cain stop them from completing God’s work.

“Evil is hard to end and peace is hard to begin.” There’s good and bad in all of us.  Each of us has the potential to be good or evil, which is the main theme I took away from Aronofsky’s film. It asks the classic existential questions what makes us human, which go back as far as history extends.  The film will certainly make you think, whether your religious or not.  It asks the age-old question of the complexity and duality in each of us, and will leave you pondering about it far after the credits have rolled.  Russell Crowe is great as Noah, someone who literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  At times in the film, Noah is incredibly at odds with what to do.  The plot and story could be discussed for days, but the film plays out better the less you know about the plot, and the changes the director has made to the story that is as old as time.  At the heart of the film, Noah represents what we go through on a daily basis, and that the choice of good or evil is in all of us, and actually what makes us human.

The visuals in the film are stunning, so ignore early rumors that the CGI and other visual elements weren’t up to standards.  The way Aronofsky shot Noah, which tells the story of the beginning of life itself is breathtaking.  The visuals are by far the highlight of the film, and with it being presented on IMAX, viewers get to feel the grand scope of the story.  The way he shows the passage of time was unique, and it was exciting to watch life grow from nothing in the matter of seconds.  Aronofsky has never had a budget this large (estimated around $120-160 million), so the studio was extremely nervous.  The end results show that it was money well spent, as the filmmaker who made a name for himself with small indie films can clearly handle a big studio film.  Studios had been reluctant to give this type of money over in the past, but after the flood of success the movie will have, I can see even grander scopes in the future for the talented filmmaker.

Noah is both well-acted and beautifully shot, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling of disappointment.  I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but it’s partially due to the “fantasy” elements that were in the film.   Whenever you take a story from the Bible and bring it to the big screen, people will always be extremely critical of the material.  I don’t know if for this reason, Aronofsky held back in order to not offend those who would be offended.  The themes he added to his version of Noah do not necessarily shake the fabric of the story.  They assist in progressing the story to where he needed it to be, but it just felt too safe.  Then again, I can’t pretend to be an expert on the source material, so all-in-all I enjoyed what was presented.  I guess the film is just not exactly how I would have presented the story, but I also can’t shake the feelings it brings out.  In that way, the story was successful in making people think, and at the end of the day, thats really what we want to see.  Sure, the movie is flawed, but beneath these flaws is a gorgeous film that plays out like nothing you have seen in a “blockbuster” before.  Certainly for a big budget studio film, the subject matter is controversial, and the film embraces questions.  We’ve been conditioned to expect certain things from movies, and often feel puzzled or disappointed when they don’t play out the way we thought. The more I think about it, the more it resonates with me, something every movie should strive for.  Noah is an ambitious film that may leave some puzzled and others disappointed, but regardless, sure to be remembered.

Taking a story everyone thinks they know and adding his own spin, Aronofsky has created a film that will be talked about for quite some time.  The story of Noah had never been brought to the big screen, and it’s certainly loosely-based on the biblical story.  Noah is a visual masterpiece from beginning to end, with its flaws, which in the end can be overlooked.  Ray Winestone’s Tubal-Cain is a compelling yang to Noah’s ying, and both are excellent in their opposing roles.  The visuals are breathtaking and make up for any parts of the story which don’t seem to fit.  Darren Aronofsky has created a thinking man’s Hollywood film, and an equally impressive visual ride.  He tells a age-old story that he has had on his mind for over 30 years, and even though he can move on to other stories I’m sure, like us, he’s still thinking about it.

Noah has a runtime of 138 minutes, and can currently be seen on standard and IMAX theaters everywhere nationwide.



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.