Mar 27, 2014

REVIEW: Noah (dir. Aronofsky)

From my piece about God and the movies for The Guardian:
'... In place of a sultry middle East, Aronofsky shoots against the black sands of Iceland in a parched, dessicated landscape that looks less pre-apocalyptic than post-apocalyptic. Like many post-punk imaginations Aronofsky makes a fetish of impurity. This earth looks already destroyed, as indeed, in his telling it has been: by man. The word “God” is absent from this ecological retelling of the Biblical narrative; Noah instead talks throughout of “the Creator,” and the earth is destroyed not for its unchecked fertility and murder rate but the despoliation of it’s natural resources. The film’s boldest stroke, though, comes from a logical quibble with the Book of Genesis: if God was asking Noah and his family to repopulate the earth, was he not demanding incest? Aronofsky adds an adopted daughter, Ila, played by Emma Watson, to give them an out, but Noah remains convinced that God’s intention was to exterminate all of mankind for his sins, including him and his family; he grows homicidal on the Ark, and afterwards drinks himself into nightly oblivion, convinced he has failed. All this is perfectly in line with Aronofsky’s prevailing ethos of adamantine self-punishment, even as it usurps divine prerogative— Noah has almost become a deity unto himself, dispensing his own justice.  He even steals one of His best lines, “be fertile and multiply.” The irony is that if a self-recriminating protagonist, bent on oblivion, was what he was after, the Bible had one all along, maybe not as overtly self destructive as Randy “the Ram” Robinson, or Nina in Black Swan, but a creative, just like them, a perfectionist driven by rage for the imperfections of his creation  (“for I regret that I made them…” 6:7), and so annihilating it in what amounts to a massive fit of artistic pique. Aronofsky’s clearest aesthetic alter ego is entirely off-stage.' 

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