The last time I saw a first-run movie was in England, when we watched the final Harry Potter film. What this means is that I pay very little attention to news about upcoming movies. Since I’m not going to watch them, why pay attention?
I was vaguely aware, though, that Hollywood was producing a Biblical epic about Noah, of Ark fame. Since it’s not a movie by a true believer — unlike The Passion of the Christ– I didn’t have high hopes for it, but I have to say that it apparently has succeeded in sinking below anybody’s lowest expectations.
To understand fully exactly what Hollywood has done to the Noah story, let’s take a minute to revisit that narrative. It’s a long story, running three chapters in the King James version. I’ll try for a briefer retelling:
Humans multiplied on the earth, but so did the evil (also called “violence”) they committed, presumably against each other, causing God to regret his creation. God therefore vowed to destroy all life on earth. Before acting on that promise, however, God realized that Noah was a good man or, more poetically, “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” God therefore warned Noah of the imminent destruction, but offered Noah a covenant: build an ark, fill it with two of every living thing (male and female), and God would allow a new generation of life on earth. Noah, without cavil, did as asked.
God then sent forty days and forty nights of rain, inundating the earth with water. The result was that “all that was in the dry land [i.e., that land not meant to be under water], died.” After 150 days, the flood waters began to abate. Noah then used birds to ascertain that there was land. When the ark could finally make a safe landing, God issued Noah a very explicit instruction: “Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.” God also encourages man to eat meat.
So, to summarize: mankind was violent; Noah was good; Noah immediately accepted God’s covenant, building the ark and taking on two of everything; and when the flood water’s subsided, God instructed Noah to procreate, procreate, procreate; and dine in style on animal flesh.
You’d never know all that, though, if you learned your Bible from Hollywood. Brian Godawa managed to obtain the version of the script that was apparently used in the movie, and it tells quite a different tale. You have to read Godawa’s whole post to realize quite how far afield Darren Aronofsky went, but a few passages will make it clear that, unbeknownst to God, Noah, or the Bible, God and Noah’s genuine concern back in the day was anthropogenic climate change. No, really:
Noah paints the primeval world of Genesis 6 as scorched arid desert, dry cracked earth, and a gray gloomy sky that gives no rain – and all this, caused by man’s “disrespect” for the environment. In short, an anachronistic doomsday scenario of ancient global warming. How Neolithic man was able to cause such anthropogenic catastrophic climate change without the “evil” carbon emissions of modern industrial revolution is not explained. Nevertheless, humanity wanders the land in nomadic warrior tribes killing animals for food or wasteful trophies.
In this oppressive world, Noah and his family seek to avoid the crowds and live off the land. Noah is a kind of rural shaman, and vegan hippy-like gatherer of herbs. Noah explains that his family “studies the world,” “healing it as best we can,” like a kind of environmentalist scientist. But he also mysteriously has the fighting skills of an ancient Near Eastern Ninja (Hey, it’s a movie, give it a break).
Noah maintains an animal hospital to take care of wounded animals or those who survive the evil “poachers,” of the land. Just whose animal rights laws they are violating, I am not sure, since there are only fiefdoms of warlords and tribes. Be that as it may, Noah is the Mother Teresa of animals.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting the feeling here that Noah is a vegetarian, something that surely would have shocked God. The script goes on from there, only it gets sillier and sillier, including Noah’s desire after the flood to kill all the humans God charged him with saving. I’d be tempted to think that Godawa was hoaxed (surely this can’t be the real script), except that preview audiences have hated the movie so much that it makes one believe that Godawa did get his hands on the real deal.
Just FYI, here are some pertinent parts of Darren Aronofsky’s bio (hyperlinks omitted):
Aronofsky was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1969, the son of public school teachers Charlotte and Abraham Aronofsky, who are Conservative Jews. He grew up in the borough’s Manhattan Beach neighborhood, where “I was raised culturally Jewish, but there was very little spiritual attendance in temple. It was a cultural thing – celebrating the holidays, knowing where you came from, knowing your history, having respect for what your people have been through.” He graduated from Edward R. Murrow High School. He has one sister, Patti, who attended a professional ballet school through high school. His parents would often take him to Broadway theater performances, which sparked his keen interest in show business.
During his youth, he trained as a field biologist with The School for Field Studies in Kenya in 1985 and Alaska in 1986. He attended school in Kenya to pursue an interest in learning about ungulates. He later said, “[T]he School for Field Studies changed the way I perceived the world”. Aronofsky’s interest in the outdoors led him to backpack his way through Europe and the Middle East. In 1987 he entered Harvard University, where he majored in social anthropology and studied filmmaking; he graduated in 1991.
In other words, New York Jewish, but no real sense of what Judaism is about (and keep in mind that Noah is an Old Testament story, so it’s one that should theoretically resonate with him); environmental background; and Harvard degree in Leftist “social anthropology.”
Aronofsky sounds like an extremely bright, mathematically adept young man who spent his life steeped in cultural Leftism. Knowing that, maybe the movie isn’t a surprise at all.
Hat tip: Ace of Spades