Monday, March 24, 2014

Steven D. Greydanus Reviews ‘Noah’

The following comes from NCR:

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah pays its source material a rare compliment: It takes Genesis seriously as a landmark of world literature and ancient moral reflection and a worthy source of artistic inspiration in our day.

It is not a “Bible movie” in the usual sense, with all the story beats predetermined by the text and actors in ancient Near Eastern couture hitting their marks and saying all the expected things. It is something more vital, surprising and confounding: a work of art and imagination that makes this most familiar of tales strange and new: at times illuminating the text, at times stretching it to the breaking point and at times inviting cross-examination and critique.

For many pious moviegoers, I suspect some of the film’s more provocative flourishes will be a bridge too far, while the biblical subject matter may be off-putting to less pious viewers. Have Aronofsky (raised with a Jewish education) and co-writer Ari Handel made a film that’s too religious for secular viewers and too secular for religious ones? Who is the audience?

Well, I am, to begin with. For a lifelong Bible geek and lover of movie-making and storytelling like me, Noah is a rare gift: a blend of epic spectacle, startling character drama and creative reworking of Scripture and other ancient Jewish and rabbinic writings. It’s a movie with much to look at, much to think about and much to feel; a movie to argue about and argue with.

It’s certainly not the picture-book story that most of us grow up with, all cheerful ark-building, adorable animals and a gravely pious, white-bearded protagonist. Noah, played by a flinty, authoritative Russell Crowe, is the hero, but that doesn’t make him saintly. Or, if he is saintly, it’s worth recalling that some of the saints could be off-putting, harsh and even ruthless. We want our heroes to be paragons of virtue and enlightenment. Yet when you get down to it, the difference between Moses or David and corrupt Hophni and Phineas is one of degree, not kind. We are all made of the same fallen stuff.

Read the rest here!

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