Friday, March 28, 2014

Noah is released

THE NOAH MOVIE comes out today and there are endless reviews up online. I don't have time to look at more than a representative sampling, all of which were more or less positive, of which the following are worth noting.

In the New York Times by A. O. Scott: Rain, Heavy at Times. Russell Crowe Confronts Life’s Nasty Weather in ‘Noah’. Excerpt:
But even though the scale of this film — the size of its budget and the breadth of its themes — is larger than anything this director has attempted before, “Noah” is less an epic than a horror movie. There are some big, noisy battle scenes and some whiz-bang computer-generated images, but the dominant moods are claustrophobia and incipient panic. The most potent special effects are Mr. Crowe’s eyes and the swelling, discordant strains of Clint Mansell’s score. Once the waters have covered the earth and the ark is afloat, a clammy fear sets in, for both the audience and the members of Noah’s family: We’re stuck on a boat full of snakes, rats and insects, and Dad’s gone crazy.
In the Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan: Review: Energetic 'Noah' goes overboard — to riveting effect. Darren Aronofsky, a director known for excess, finds the perfect story for his brand of grand filmmaking with the biblical tale of 'Noah.' Excerpt:
This is what moviegoers thought they'd be getting, but there is more going on here, a whole lot more. Aronofsky's "Noah" includes not-so-covert messages about despoiling the planet, a bemused Anthony Hopkins as oldest-man-ever Methuselah, an unlooked-for villain played by Ray Winstone, plus romantic Sturm und Drang about finding appropriate wives for Noah's three sons. And don't forget the Watchers, a bunch of giants who look and act like Stone Age Transformers but are apparently fallen angels marooned on Earth (don't ask.) This is one busy movie.
In The Wire by Esther Zuckerman: Why Emma Watson Is the Secret Key to 'Noah'. This one has a lot of spoilers about Watson's character, "Ila," and her adventures. Excerpt:
While, yes, Aronofsky does stage an impressive battle pitting the people who are destined not to make it onto the arc against giant Watchers, fallen angels made out of stone, once everyone is one the ark the movie turns into a story about a family dealing in an apocalyptic scenario.
In The New Republic by Brook Wilensky-Lanford: The Big New 'Noah' Movie Is Closer to the Bible Than its Christian Critics Will Admit. Excerpt:
The Watchers, as this movie calls these stone giants, have a direct biblical inspiration, the Nephilim. These larger-than-life creatures, part human, part divine, are described in Genesis 6:4. The exact lineage of the Nephilim is hotly debated in creationist circles. Were they descendants of Adam’s other son, Seth, or were they fallen angels, or some combination thereof? Aronofsky’s interpretationis that they were the beings, made of light, that God created to protect humanity from sin; and when they failed, God punished them by turning them into stone giants. Incidentally, creationist Ken Ham says that this interpretation has “some biblical support.” It is a testament to the creative possibilities of the Bible that two people whose larger visions disagree so sharply could sometimes coincide on the small stuff.
And how could I omit the review in the tradition of patristic allegory by Peter K. Rosenthal in The Onion?

The Onion Reviews 'Noah'

I am especially interested in the presentation of the Watchers and giants. There's a pretty good discussion of the issues by Steven D. Greydanus in The ‘Noah’ Movie Controversies: Questions and Answers (National Catholic Register). From the reviews it sounds as though Aronofsky gives a rather confusing account of the two. Or perhaps some of the reviewers are confused, which is likely enough in itself. Or both. In any case, according to the myth in the Book of the Watchers, the Book of Giants, and off and on in the rest of the Enochic literature (and clearly alluded to in Genesis 6:1-4), the Watchers were fallen angels who came to earth, revealed various technologies to human beings, and seduced mortal women. The children who were a result of these unions were cannibalistic giants sometimes called the Nephilim. Evidently the Watchers appear in the movie as fallen angels who are exiled to earth as six-armed stone giants. It has been suggested that the six arms come from the six wings of the seraphim in Isaiah 6. There seems to be nothing specific about the giants/Nephilim. They are either implicitly identified with the Watchers (against all the earlier traditions) or ignored.

This doesn't sound like a cinematic masterpiece, but I suppose I shall have to get around to seeing it and posting my own review.

Background here and links.