April 1, 2014

“When I lay upon a mountain / And my father’s hand was trembling”

Noah (Darren Aronofsky, 2014). From a few lines in Genesis, and some more from The Book of Enoch (those Watchers, or awkward stone angels), Darren Aronofsky fashions a typically idiosyncratic psychedelic Biblical epic, a multi-million dollar personal film that may prove to be less provocative in the long run than The Last Temptation of Christ or The Passion of the Christ and closer in its strange and singular vision to the Matrix trilogy, but with as much to say about right now (extinction, stewardship and, for a moment, the appealing idea of a world without people) as the Christ films did about back then. (You might also wonder if Aronofsky has been watching Nicolas Winding Refn’s dread-drenched psychedelic art film Valhalla Rising, which was shot, like much of this one, in Iceland). I liked the commissioned Patti Smith song about mercy but Aronofsky could have easily played Leonard Cohen’s “The Story of Isaac” over the closing credits, because in the end maybe that is what this is, what Aronofsky has to struggle with: how do we understand that Old Testament moral view now? Where does mania intersect or overlap with conviction, or cruelty with justice? Terrence Malick was working his way through similar material in The Tree of Life. He had dinosaurs but Aronofsky has stone angels. I liked the stone angels. I even liked Anthony Hopkins and Russell Crowe. When did that last happen?