Prime Instant Video Screening Room: Noah

Prime Screening Room

Darren Aronofsky’s epic Noah (PG-13), starring Russel Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson, has just been added to the Amazon Prime Instant Video catalog.

Many viewers were surprised or even shocked at the liberties Aronofsky has taken with the traditional flood story most of us learned as children (and their many negative reviews reflect this), but it’s important to know the Christian Bible was not Aronofsky’s only source material for the screenplay he co-wrote with Ari Handel. On Fandango, one viewer summarizes the plot like this:

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Darren Aronofsky brings the story of Noah’s Ark to the big screen with this Paramount/New Regency production. “In the beginning, there was nothing.” So starts this version of the story centered on Noah (Russell Crowe), the man entrusted by God to save the innocent animals of Earth as the rising floodwaters cleansed the planet of mankind’s evil.

As the telling continues, we learn how Adam and Eve’s sins have passed down through generations through their sons Cain and Abel, and how the descendants of their righteous sibling Seth were entrusted with defending creation. One day, while foraging in the country, a descendant of Seth, Noah, sees his father slain by a descendant of Cain. In the process, Noah’s birthright is stolen from him.

Decades later, as a father of three, Noah experiences a vision foretelling the great flood that will wash over the Earth, destroying every living thing that stands on the soil. That vision leads Noah to seek out his grandfather, Methuselah, in order to understand his mission. When a second vision reveals that Noah is to construct a massive ark designed to shelter every living animal during the great flood, Noah, his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), their three sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), and their adoptive sister Ila (Emma Watson) immediately begin construction on the vessel with the help of the Watchers, a race of angels created as beings of light, but encrusted in stone and mud and forsaken by God for their attempts to help man. Meanwhile, word of Noah’s work soon reaches Tubal Cain (Ray Winstone), who gathers an army on a mission to overtake the ark, and survive the coming storm by any cost.
~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Within that framework, Aronofsky introduces characters and scenarios that don’t appear anywhere in the biblical story of Noah and the flood, so Christians with a traditional bent shouldn’t go into this film expecting a faithful reproduction of the story they know and love.

However, viewers who are curious about other creation and flood stories from other religious traditions that were contemporary with, or pre-dated, the Christian versions, will likely enjoy this movie a lot, as will those who don’t have strong opinions about the religious underpinnings and just want an action-adventure epic.

For a very detailed, scholarly and insightful analysis of all the source material that went into Aronofsky’s vision, see this Amazon review from Rabbi Yonassan Gershom.


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