Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Analysis of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah - The Story and Its Sources


Noah - The Fall of the Watchers | A Constantly Racing Mind
We broke the world. We did this. Everything that was good was shattered. This time there will be no men. If we were to enter the garden, we would only ruin it again. Mankind must end. Creation will be left alone, safe and beautiful.

W hen watching Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," and I suggest you do, make sure to leave certain preconceptions at home, and approach with an open mind.  First, this is a Hollywood film. Second, Aronofsky's take on the Biblical story is not altogether meant to be taken literally. Finally, Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel have taken a bit of literary license in order to bring this legendary story to the big screen.

Noah - Russel Crowe and Jennifer Connelly | A Constantly Racing Mind


**Spoiler Alert ** Read The Review
The Actors
Russell Crowe ("Gladiator," "Robin Hood") stars as the enigmatic Noah.  Jennifer Connelly ("Requiem for a Dream," "A Beautiful Mind") stars as his loyal wife Naamah.  

The Bible mentions that Noah has three sons. Logan Lerman ("Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief", "The Perks of Being a Wallflower") plays his middle son, Ham.  Newcomers Douglas Booth and Leo McHugh Carroll play sons Shem and Japheth.  Emma Watson ("Harry Potter" franchise) plays Ila (Ē - Lā), who as a child, was taken in by Noah and his family. 


Noah - Japheth, Naamah, Shem and Ila | A Constantly Racing Mind

The extremely talented Anthony Hopkins is Methuselah, the oldest living man mentioned in the Bible.  Appearing as the film's antagonist is Ray Winstone ("King Arthur, "Beowulf") as Tubal-cain, the self-proclaimed King of the world.  A man who takes what he wants and feels justified in doing so. He is a man with some extreme great - great - great granddaddy issues.  

The Director
If you are familiar with Darren Aronofsky's past films, you might have some idea what kind of visual treat you are in for.  Typically the themes Aronofsky's films feature have to do with obsession and feature characters whose sense of reality is questionable.  "Black Swan" features a ballet dancer's obsession with perfection while losing herself in an altered state of reality while in pursuit of her goal.  In "Requiem for a Dream" a film where Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, and Ellen Burstyn play characters that lose their dreams while giving in to addiction.  His first feature film, "PI," is both a cinematic delight as well as a mind-boggling rush. A reclusive, mathematical genius, Maximillian Cohen played by Sean Gullette who strives for the answers to the meaning of everything, including the name of God, while slipping deeper into his own paranoia.  Noah is no different.  Aronofsky delivers a hefty cinematic experience.

The Origins of the Story
Using Genesis chapters 6 through 9 as an outline, Aronofsky, and co-writer Ari Handel incorporate concepts taken from the apocryphal "Book of Enoch," the book of "Jubilees," and other rabbinical texts and traditions as sources for their story.  What emerges is a character journey of a man on a mission, given to him by God, but who remains a very, very human character.  This is not a story about God's wrath and anger; it is a film about God's mercy.  The way the Creator works in this film is through influencing the hearts and minds of his creations.  In this film, God is never referred to as "God" or "Our Father."  Rather, Noah and his grandfather Methuselah refer to him as "The Creator."  This may upset some groups, but it keeps the concepts neutral.  This the time when the words such as “El” and “Elohim” are used in the Bible.

Noah - Cain Murders Abel | A Constantly Racing MindAronofsky sets up the story in the first half of the film. First, he gives the overview of Adam and Eve, the temptation by the snake, and Eve's disobedience of the Creator's commandments, and their eventual expulsion from the garden.  He shows us images of the first three children of Adam and Eve mentioned in the Bible, Cain, Abel, and Seth.  Aronofsky tells the story of Cain’s murder of Abel pretty much as it is in the Bible and without any interpretations.  No metaphor of the contemptuous nature between the nomadic animal herders and the pre-civilized agriculture based society.  Aronofsky's visual story telling method in regards to Cain and his descendants is to show us images in silhouette against a background of a setting sun.  This, we find out later is how Noah envisions the story of his ancestors as seen in his dreams. 

Many hero stories start at a point when the hero is a small boy (think “Lion King," "Conan the Barbarian,” or if you prefer, “Batman Begins”) who witnesses the murder of his father.  The same happens to Noah.  While his father Lamech, is about to bless him with the mythical snake skin shed by the serpent that tempted Eve, a band of marauders come upon them. Taking literary license, Noah's father Lamech, who was in the Bible, one hundred and eighty-two years when Noah was born and lived another lived five hundred and ninety-five years afterwards.  Aronofsky and Handel don't try to explain any of this; they have a younger Tubal-cain kill Noah's father, claim his land and then the story just moves along. Remember, the goal of this film is to entertain.


Noah - The Antediluvian Landscape | A Constantly Racing Mind


The Antediluvian World
Although this story is for modern audiences, the world at that time is very alien to us.  The Bible describes the world that Adam and Eve would live in when they were evicted from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:17.  In this antediluvian world, the landscape is familiar, but not quite. The animals that take refuge in the ark look like creatures we see today, but not quite. For example, while Noah and his children are gathering plants for food, a wounded creature runs past.  Noah realizing the danger of the hunters goes to defend the animal. The animal looked like a medium size dog or hyena, but had scales. I guess that creature didn't make it onto the Ark.  In the nine generations before Noah, his world is already a victim of urban sprawl, the ecology is already on the decline, and wickedness rules the world. 


The Garden of Eden
When depicting the time before Noah, Aronofsky contrasts a vivid garden, with grass of bright greens, and a bright red pulsating fruit hanging from a tree. The snake that tempts Eve slides out of its bright iridescent golden skin. It slithers toward man in the guise of a more common looking snake. The shedded snakeskin becomes a symbol of the blessings of the Garden and handed down from Adam to Seth and his entire lineage.  Adam and Eve are bright luminescent beings.  Once out of the garden, the image changes to silhouettes against a blood red background.


Noah - The Garden of Eden | A Constantly Racing Mind


Although the Bible mentions gold, the metal, in those times, it was probably worthless.  It is shiny and pretty, but useless for making weapons of war.  The metal is too soft.  Instead, the writers introduce us to something called "sohor," or "zohor."  In an interview, Aronofsky and Handel mentioned, others have talked about this magic stone that glowed brighter during the day and darker at night.”

Perhaps these were remains of meteorites that retained some of their otherworldly properties. These glowing rocks are sources of light; Noah uses them to start fires for warmth and for cooking vegetable stews and the potions his wife makes, including an antediluvian pregnancy test.  Tubal-cain on the other hand, mixes with a substance, probably charcoal, and using a thick wooden or metal cylinder can creates a small cannon.

The Characters:
Noah
Noah - Russel Crowe | A Constantly Racing Mind
The memory of the murder of his father still haunts him.  He is vigilant for other peoples and the wickedness they may bring. He stays away from the cities. His wife and children live in the hills, they plant and forage for food not too far from their camp.  They are nomadic people going where they can find plants to eat. Naamah uses the plants and herbs for medicinal purposes.  A man of the earth, Noah raises his children to take from the land only what they need. He teaches his sons to tend to animals, We have to be gentle with them, and we have to be protective.  If something were to happen to them, a small piece of creation would be lost forever.” He treats his wife with respect as it states in Genesis 1:29 “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”  So, Noah and his family are vegetarians.

In the film, don’t expect heavenly voices booming from on high.  God is audibly silent. Not since the time God spoke to Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch, has he spoken to man, but now the voice of God’s is silent. Why not, Enoch was such a great conversationalist; he was spirited away to heaven to be with his God.  Instead, Noah, like Enoch, has dreams that verge on the psychedelic. Visions of the first human’s original sin, their children’s sins, man’s wickedness to man, the destruction of natural resources, greed, and hate, all come to Noah culminating with visions of drowning in an ocean full of land-animals and the bodies of the wicked dead floating around him. Above him in this dream, floating on the water is a giant boat. Like drug-induced flashbacks, Noah is subjected to visions of plants that instantaneously sprout from the dry soil.  Or, waking dreams of standing in a blood soaked earth, Noah is visibly shaken -- wouldn't you be?


Noah - Visions and Dreams of the Deluge | A Constantly Racing Mind


What does this all mean? 
Perplexed and worried that the sons of Cain and their sinful ways are reaching a tipping point in the world, he seeks out of the counsel of his grandfather, Methuselah (Hopkins).  Noah has visions of Methuselah’s desolate mountain, where he lives alone in a cave.  The trek to the mountain is dangerous because of what we would call “Post-Apocalyptic” savagery. On the way, they find an abandoned zohor mine with a single survivor, Ila.  She is a young girl of maybe 6 or 7 years.  She is wounded below the belly and it is Naamah’s professional medical opinion that she would never bear children. With wild-men chasing after them, they must flee.  They run into a no man’s land in the hopes that their hunters will not follow, but they do.  As Noah turns to make his stand, he suddenly realizes that his enemies are not stopping and running because of him.  There is a big living rock creature behind him. The Watchers take Noah and his family prisoners.


Eventually the family makes it to the base of Methuselah's mountain. Noah and Shem ascend the mountain and counsel with his grandfather. Convinced that the Creator is regretful of the way that humankind turned to wickedness; Noah believes he understands his role that he is to play in the grand scheme of things. Noah tells Methuselah that;
Fire consumes all.  Water cleanses.  It separates the foul from the pure.  What is pure rises.  He plans to begin again. 
Noah sees that he must build a giant boat -- an ark, to hold the innocent creatures and his family that the Creator chose as righteous. Methuselah tells Noah, “You’ll need this—it’s a seed from the First Garden, from Eden.”  For 10 years, Noah, his family, and the Watchers build the great boat. There comes a time when, after visiting Tubal-cain's encampment to find wives for his sons, Noah begins to see that perhaps The Creator intended for man to die off and leave just the innocent creatures on the garden called Earth.

Methuselah
The old man in the mountain called Ararat; Anthony Hopkins plays Methuselah in a Yoda-esque manner. Not straight forward in giving answers or help, he renders up a few Jedi "mind tricks," along with a potion straight out of “Altered States.”  "What did you see?"  Methuselah asks Noah.  He tells him he sees a world drowned by a flood. Oddly enough, Methuselah mentions that his father Enoch said;

"The world would end in a rain of fire."  Perhaps that is still in store for us, hopefully not too soon in our future.

The Masoretic Text and the JPS 1917 Edition: " וַיִּהְיוּ, כָּל-יְמֵי מְתוּשֶׁלַח, תֵּשַׁע וְשִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה, וּתְשַׁע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה; וַיָּמֹת." Essentially says that Methuselah died in 1656 AM, the year of the Flood at the age of 969.  Here is the math broken down 


Noah - Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah | A Constantly Racing Mind “… the number of years given in Genesis is consistent with Methuselah having died before the flood happened. Here is how it works.  Lamech lived for 595 years after he gave birth to Noah; Methuselah lived 782 years after giving birth to Lamech. (taking the numbers at face value, and assuming no copying error). Five hundred years later (an approximation?) Noah gave birth to his three sons. I assume that they were not all born the same year, so the 500 years is an approximation. After this, Noah spent 100 years building the ark before the flood came. That is what the text says; again, assuming that the numbers are to be taken at face value and that there is no copying error. With these numbers in hand, then Methuselah was dead when the flood began. I get 969 – 187 (birth of Lamech) – 182 (birth of Noah) – 500 (age when Noah gave birth to Ham, Shem and Japheth) – 100 years (to build the ark, before the flood). The result is 969 years – 969 years = 0 years, which implies that either Methuselah had died recently (allowing for a few years over which Noah had his children), or perhaps he even died in the flood.” (source) Assuming no copying errors?

In the film, Methuselah has the ability to heal the sick.  Not long before the flood comes, Ila goes chasing after Ham as he rushes toward Tubal-cain’s camp, she runs into the old man.  Methuselah is on his knees digging for berries.  The wound that Ila suffered as a child left her unable to have children. Or, to put in biblical terms, she was barren.  For one moment, Darren Aronofsky provides the audience with a scene of hushed serenity.  As Patriarch of his family, it is his right to confer blessings upon members of his family.  As the film depicts, Noah, his wife, and his sons are the only living relatives.  He reaches out to Ila to give her a blessing and reaches for her belly.  The moment is subtle, but impactful, she now can bear Shem’s children.


Noah’s Family
According to Midrash Rabbah XXIII 2-3 it says

And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah (Connelly),  R. Abba b. Kahana said: Naamah was Noah's wife; and why was she called Naamah? Because her deeds were pleasing (ne'imim). The Rabbis said: Naamah was a woman of a different stamp, for the name denotes that she sang (man'emeth) to the timbrel in honour of idolatry.

In the film, Naamah, is the mother of Noah’s children, and she does what wives and mothers do, she supports her husband, pleads her children’s case, and she keeps Noah human.  In doing so, when Naamah speaks it is the voice of all mothers that follow throughout the ages. Their main desire is for her children's survival and happiness. Noah's wife is also gifted with making herbal potions.  Is this because she comes from the line of Cain, and has knowledge handed down by her family who were taught by the Watchers?  For example, she uses a mixture of herbs to create a gas to put the animals into a state of hibernation.

A
t one point, Naamah pleads with Methuselah, to change Noah's mind about not allowing Shem, Ham, and Japheth to have legitimate wives and have families; "I want my sons to have wives and I want them to have children. I can’t bear them dying alone."

Methuselah responds to Naamah with, "I don't know if I could even try. But it would cause pain. Possibly tragedy. Do you wish to take this chance? Besides, the decision would come back to Noah anyway. "

There comes a point when Naamah realizes that Noah’s intention is to let humankind die off. It comes on his return from Tubal-cain's camp empty handed. Noah decides that his sons will not have wives.  Ila, at this time is barren. Noah reveals what he believes is the meaning of his visions. “It had to be what He wanted—a world without men.  You see that, don’t you? “  Naamah’s reply is,  “What I see is how hard this was for you to do—a man who respects life, a man who loves his children. “

In the Bible, it says that Shem, Ham, and Japheth had wives when they entered the ark.  In Genesis chapter 6 verse 18, God says to Noah,

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.”  


Noah - Logan Lerman as Ham | A Constantly Racing Mind
One can figure that with Noah and his wife, their three sons, and their wives, the count comes to a total of eight people who survive the flood, and walk out of the ark. However, in this story, they are still youths.  Shem is the oldest, and is enamored with Ila, the girl they found years ago.  Ila, played by Emma Watson, provides the love interest, yet plays the sympathetic sister to Ham, the middle child with issues. 

Secondary to Noah’s conflict of survivor guilt, is the rivalry between Ham and his older brother Shem that provides some additional tension in the story. Logan Lerman does an excellent job playing the rebellious son, as the rivalry between Ham and Shem turns to jealousy, and then to anger and then to hate. Similar to Adam and Eve’s Seth, Noah’s son Shem, is the chosen son; the son who creates a lineage that passes to Jesus, the Christ, himself.


Noah - Shem and Ila | A Constantly Racing Mind


Like Cain, Ham is jealous of his brother, and wants a wife for himself. At one point, he ventures into Tubal-cain’s large encampment just over the hill from Noah’s construction site, in search of a wife for himself.  He finds one trapped in a pit with the dead.  Remember, this is the camp of the lustful and wicked. Unfortunately, Na'el (Madison Davenport) doesn't make it back to the ark when the heavens pour forth rain and the waters flow from the Earth.

Tubal-cain
Noah - Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain | A Constantly Racing MindWinstone's portrayal of Tubal-cain, is somewhat one-dimensional, however, his character does bring up some important points and in doing so, gives a good reason as to why the flood was necessary.  When reviewing the Bible, don’t be confused with the lineages listed in the Good Book.  The line of Cain, which Tubal-cain is from -- also has an Enoch, a Methuselah, and a Lamech as well. 

When reviewing Cain’s lineage, the Bible is not as precise as it is with Seth’s line.  The short story is that Cain settled and “built a city” in the land of Nod.  His line included metalworkers and musicians and we know some of their names, including Tubal-cain, however, we don’t know how long they each lived.  With little to go on, our narrator extrapolates, and displays a world where the children of Cain spread like locust across the Pangea-like surface of the Earth with the help of the “Watchers.” 


Noah - The Forbidden Fruit | A Constantly Racing Mind
Like Noah, Tubal-cain grew up with the story of creation and the fall of his ancestors.  His character focuses on the events that take place in Genesis 17 – 19, 
“…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” 
He feels justified as he repeats these words as his litany.
“Damned if I don’t do what it takes.  Damned if I don’t take what I want.”
As portrayed in "Noah," many would interpret the legacy of Cain as a metaphor for the ecological disaster looming on our horizon, rather than the sinful ways of man.  On the surface, ecology is a major theme, however, not far from the surface is just the opposite.  “Noah” shows us man’s wicked ways in how he kills animals not only for food, but also for sport.  Men kill other men because of their lack of sanctity for human life.  Women and animals are treated as chattel——property. Man’s savagery also extends to children. When visiting his enemy's encampment, Noah sees this wickedness, this savagery, and he also sees it in himself. We see that Tubal-cain is the personification of this evil, and Winstone does a very good job of it.

The Watchers
Noah - Samayza the Watcher | A Constantly Racing MindAnother set of characters where Handel took some liberties and redefined the entities known as, "The Watchers.”  Mentioned in the biblical “Book of Daniel,” but written extensively in the “Book of Enoch,” these beings of light, now encrusted in the solidified earth, were once angels.  Drawing from Greek mythology they make the Watchers a kind of Promethean type characters, Handel and Aronofsky tells that after man's removal from the garden, they took pity on humankind, “We were not supposed to interfere….  Still, we taught mankind everything we knew.”  These beings are giants, thus allowing loosely for the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis.

When Watchers take Noah’s family captive, their leader, Samyaza, wants to leave Noah and his family trapped in a hole to die. Nick Nolte is the voice of Samyaza, and he continues to explain the events that led the Watchers to turn against man. Man, sent from the presence of their Creator, and after the murder of Abel by Cain, the Creator put a mark on Cain and promised him protection. The Watchers came to Earth to help humanity, and ended up helping Cain and his family build his great cities.  In the “Book of Enoch” Chapter 8 verses 3 – 5 says, “3 Amazarak taught all the sorcerers, and dividers of roots:  4 Armers taught the solution of sorcery; and 5 Barkayal taught the observers of the stars,” So, the Watchers taught man the ability to work with metals and taught the women the uses of the plants and herbs.  They also taught humans the ability to read the stars. Amazarak, Armers, and Barkayal are fallen angels.

Neither Aronofsky nor Handel mentions the cohabitation between the Watchers and the women of Cain’s line.  In Genesis and in Enoch, they both mention that,
 “And the women conceiving brought forth giants.” 
In the film, it does mention that men turned against the Watchers and fought and killed many of them.  A young Methuselah steps in and with the help of the Creator, saves the remaining Watchers.  Bitter and hateful toward humankind, sorry for their transgression against the Creator, they keep to themselves and stay in their own lands. 

Noah - Methuselah Defeats the Armies of Cain | A Constantly Racing Mind




















The Ark
Noah goes and plants the seed his grandfather gave him in the Earth at the bottom of the mountain by his and his wife’s tent.  Like Jack and the magic beanstalk, a forest sprouts from the ground before them and the Watchers. The Watchers see this as a sign from the Creator, that this descendant of Seth, of Enoch, and of Methuselah is one to obey and follow. Samyaza the Watcher says:
"You claim you heard from him?  Some of us could not accept that when it was man who broke the world….  But when I look at you, I see Adam, the man I came here to protect."
According to the Bible, it took 100 years (to build the ark.  At the time, Noah was 500 years old. However, in the film, Noah looks about 50 years old, and it takes about 10 years since he planted the seed his grandfather gave him.  In Aronofsky and Handel’s mind, without the Bible specifically saying that the Creator helped build the ark, the Watchers fill in nicely as the day laborers needed to cut wood from the magic forest and build the big boat. 



Noah - The Animals Arrive at the Ark | A Constantly Racing Mind



The Ark depicted In "Noah" is pretty large. The Bible, in Chapter 6, in verse 14 says;
"Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks."  
A cubit was based on the distance from the elbow to the fingertips, or an average of 18 inches or about a foot and a half. So, the length of the ark is anywhere between 450 to 500 feet, its breadth about 50 feet, and its height 45 feet.  The length of the Ark was a tad but smaller than a modern day U.S. Navy destroyer. Depicted in the movie, the size of the ark is about 500 feet.  Aronofsky only built about a quarter of the ark, leaving the rest to the digital artists to recreate. "Noah" shows us a big rectangular box shape with no bow or stern. As the family and the animals were just along for the ride, there was no need to steer the boat. Noah's boat has three decks, pens for animals, cages for the birds, and rooms for supplies and sleeping quarters.

The Flood
One may think that the film is all about the great flood. It's not. It is about man's inhumanity to man, and the survival of the human species.  The question that the "Noah" asks, and one that I am fond of in films, is does humankind deserves to survive. We still commit murder because of greed, spite, and jealousy. And we still visit all of our sins upon our children. We refuse to accept the responsibility for anything that we've done. 


The time for mercy has passed.  Now it’s time for judgment. 

The Bible says specifically that God chose Noah because of his goodness.  Handel and Aronofsky, however, place the decision of survival squarely on the shoulder of Noah. This might upset some however, moving the decision to a human character creates a more compelling and relatable character and story.  The question one really has to ask is... Was it really Noah's decision after all? 


Noah - all the fountains of the great deep burst forth | A Constantly Racing Mind
"all the fountains of the great deep burst forth"
The depiction of the flood is epic. Using Genesis 7:11 the Bible says:
"11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights."
Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel give us exactly what is described in the text. After finding a wife of his own, Ham, along with Na'el, who he found in Tubal-cain's camp, run back to the ark as it starts raining.  Tubal-cain rallies his army to attack the ark and take it for themselves. Noah, looking for his son, finds him, however Na'el is stuck in a trap and he drags Ham away as Tubal-cain's hordes races toward the Ark.

E
ven as the Creator provides for humanity's salvation, man's greed, lust, and hate lashes out. Although the Bible doesn't mention an assault on the Ark, but one can easily imagine one. What "Noah," does give us, is a grand battle between the giant Watchers and Tubal-cain's hordes.  As each Watcher sacrifices himself to protect Noah's family, they receive redemption from The Creator and ascend to heaven in blaze of glory. 


Noah - The Ark Rides the Flood | A Constantly Racing Mind
Noah, his wife, his 3 sons, and Ila are aboard the ark.  The Bible mentions that eight survive the flood; however, the Bible doesn't mention that Tubal-cain hacks his way onto the ark as a stowaway.  In this case, I wouldn't worry about the director altering the story, however, I would look at it as a metaphor for all the sins of man finding their way onto the ark and once again infecting the last of those The Creator chose as the righteous on Earth.  According to the calculations provided above, Methuselah, who may have been alive during the year of the flood, is still searching for berries in the forest, when the flood comes. As he triumphantly finds some berries, he eats them, then raises his arms in praise, and allows the rushing water to sweep him away.  Visually this scene is short but grand.

Ham, already infatuated with Tubal-cain, finds him hiding, wounded, in the bowels of the ship. He helps the "King" and is tempted by his thoughts on the survival of fittest. While munching on one of the reptiles, Ham somewhat disgusted tells Tubal-cain that, "The beasts are precious.  There are only two of them." Tubal-cain's reply is, "I must get my strength back.  There’s only one of me."  Tubal-cain laments to Ham that as a child of The Creator, he (and his kind) were abandoned by him, "I am a man—made in your image.  Why will you not converse with me? … I give life; I take life away, as YOU do.  I am like you, am I not?  Speak to me!"

Ham is torn between the will of his father, and the temptation of the power that Tubal-cain offers.  As Eve's temptation for knowledge to be like God, and like Cain's jealousy of his brother Abel, and his own jealousy for his own brother's woman, Ham decides that he too must do what he must to survive. He joins with Tubal-cain against his father.

With the cries of the drowning coming from outside of the ark, Noah gathers his family in the center of the ark as the waters rage outside and explains to them why humanity must not live beyond the time of their own lifespans. The video below is not only a great visual display of creation. The scene allows for both creationist beliefs, and evolutionary thought.  "All that is left of creation will lie within these walls.  You’re angry?  You judge me?  Let me tell you a story.  In the beginning, there was nothing..."  



A
t this point, Noah tells his family of his reasons why he did not find wives for his sons. Ila, who was supposed to be barren, finds that she is indeed pregnant, a miracle brought on by the blessing of Methuselah. Noah, enraged that his wife went to his grandfather, now finds himself with a choice he rather would not have to make.  Now, if his daughter in-law has a boy, then he would be the last man, burying Japheth, as he would bury Ham, as Ham would bury Shem and Ila and as they would bury Noah and Naamah.  However if the child is a girl, who may mature into a woman, then he would have to cut her down the moment she is born.

O
f course, the thought of murdering newborn children is abhorrent to us; however, it is more abhorrent to Noah. This is not the decision that he wanted to make.  He was Okay, with building the Ark, defending the Ark, and not allowing anyone else in. But the killing of babes, this he could not do.  

What "Noah" gives an audience is an epic character study of a man conflicted with duty, and compassion. The film is about good versus evil that comes to a climax on the day that Ila bears Shem twin girls.  It is also the day that Tubal-cain, who has his strength back, and Ham decide to kill Noah and take the Ark for himself. 


Noah - The Sigil of the House of Noah | A Constantly Racing Mind
We all know the outcome of the story. We are all here today, are we not? However, Darren Aronofsky's cinematic talents give him the ability, to leave the audience on the edge of their seats in spite of facts.  The climactic fight between Noah and Tubal-cain is what an audience expects of these two actors, and the characters they portray. Ham's inability to make a choice between his family and his own desires causes him to realize that perhaps he is not like the rest of his family.

T
his is not a film about the God's wrath. "Noah" is about his mercy. When he finds Ila and the twins on the roof of the Ark, Noah, brandishing his knife, now he must decide what to do next. Aronofsky, like an enchanter,  holds the tension of this scene just to the right moment before the release.  Ila sings a song that Noah taught her as a child, she sings to calm her crying babies. 

* Mercy is as mercy does,
Wandering the wild.
The stars are eyes watching you,

A breath upon a cloud.

Two white doves, two white wings,
To carry you away
To a land in memory
A land in memory.


The sky is high
The earth is green
And cool below your feet..

So swiftly now
Beneath the bough
Your father waits for thee
To wrap you in his healing arms
As the nights sky weeps


Two white doves, two white wings
To carry you away
For mercy is the healing wind
That whispers as you to sleep
That whispers you to...sleep


The song and the look on Noah's face as he bends down to each of the baby girls and kiss them gently on the forehead, only prove that the Creator works through the hearts and minds of people. Noah throws down his knife, and raises his head and arms to heaven, and says, "I am sorry, I cannot do this." 

Tubal-cain is dead, and as Naamah proclaims, after the birth of the twin girls, "[The Creator] sent us what we need." Noah should be happy. but he isn't. In fact, he is miserable. Why is that? Because he made a promise to the Creator, "Have I not done everything that you asked of me?  Is that not enough?  Why do you not answer me? Why? I will not fail you. I will not fail you. I will not fail you. It shall be done."  Noah's thoughts are on all the souls that perished in the flood, and his failure to do what he believed the Creator wanted him to do. 

After the flood, the rains subside and the Ark lands on the top of a mountain.  The animals roam the mountain and the lands where the waters receded.  Noah grows a vineyard, and lives in a cave.  For all we know, the Ark may not have drifted far from Methuselah's mountain.  Mount Ararat is the traditional resting spot of the ark, which is in Turkey.  Perhaps the cave where Noah, sits and drinks in despair, is Methuselah's cave.  Noah, weathered and broken, drinks wine until he is stumbling around and then falls into a stupor.  The dead haunt Noah, and the thought that he almost murdered his grandchildren disturbs him.  Noah's conflict has to do with whether or not he failed the task God gave him.   

Genesis Chapter 9 says verse 21 says;
He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.  22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.  23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father.  Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

Aronofsky gives us a PG view to this passage of the bible.  As Noah lays ass up on the sand outside his cave, Ham comes upon him.  Instead of turning away, he stands there and stares, Shem and Japheth show up a moment later.  Shem takes charge and the two close their eyes and cover their father.  Ham tosses a cloth bag that contains the birthright of Seth, the snakeskin, toward his father and brothers and walks away. 


Keeping with the theme of mercy, there is no curse on Ham, the father of Canaan, as in verse, "25 Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”  Nowhere in the Bible does it say what Ham did to his father, but for over three millennia, speculation abounds.  Sometimes there are no answers.

Noah - Birthrights and Blessings | A Constantly Racing Mind


Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel bring the story back to the film's main theme, mercy.  They do that by bringing the two characters that had the most at stake throughout this film – Ila and Noah.  Noah, who spared Ila's twin girls, in one of his sober moments, sits outside his cave talking with his daughter in-law.  Ila asks Noah, “I have to know, why did you spare them?"

Noah replies that, “I looked down at those two little girls and all I had in my heart was love."

"Then why are you alone, Noah?  Why are you separated from your family?”  Ila asks him.

"Because I failed Him.”

"He chose you.  The choice was put in your hands because He put it there.  You chose mercy.  You chose love.  He has given us a second chance.  Be a father.  Be a grandfather.  Help us to do better this time.  Help us start again."


People over the ages continually try to understand and explain the stories in the Bible.  Scholars, historians, atheists, agnostics, and the faithful want answers.  However, as Job finally concluded that the Creator is so great, and so vast, that the human mind is unable to process the information. Or rather, that the meanings found in the Bible is not about justice, it's not about mercy, and it may not be even about us. Noah is not god, but he is the window to which the film uses to view the despair, the sorrow, and the conflict, that the Creator hypothetically would have withstood, in an entertaining, and emotional way.  God does not show emotions, but men do.  Taking a well-known story and embellishing it somewhat doesn't necessarily mark it as unfaithful.  Throughout the film, "Noah" demonstrates the spirit and the theme of mercy of the story of the flood. Rated PG-13, Noah runs just under 2 hours and 20 minutes


Interview: ‘Noah’ Writer-Director Darren Aronofsky and Co-Writer Ari Handel (National Catholic Register) (n.d.). . Retrieved June 4, 2014, from


Stewardship of Creation: An Interview with "Noah" Screenwriter, Ari Handel (The High Calling) (n.d.). . Retrieved June 4, 2014, from

Movie Data

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Year:  2014
Staring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Producer(s): Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Arnon Milchan, Mary Parent
Writer: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel 
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 138 minutes
Release Date: 3/28/2014

Works Cited

Book of Jubilees: The Book of Jubilees: The Fall of the Angels and their Punishment; the Deluge foretold (v. 1-20) (Book of Jubilees: The Book of Jubilees: The Fall of the Angels and their Punishment; the Deluge foretold (v. 1-20))


Wesley Center Online (The : Book Of Enoch) (n.d.). . Retrieved April 3, 2014, from

According to the ages given in Genesis  (Evidence for Christianity According to the ages given in Genesis 5 Methuselah was still alive after the flood How do you explain this Comments) (n.d.). . Retrieved May 4, 2014, from 


How old was Noah and Methuselah? (How old was Noah and Methuselah?) (n.d.). . Retrieved May , 2014, from

Full text of "rabba genesis". (n.d.). . Retrieved June 4, 2014, from

Genesis 5 | Bible.is (Bible.is Online). . Retrieved April 15, 2014, from
http://www.bible.is/ENGESV/Gen/5


Genesis 6 | Bible.is (Bible.is Online). . Retrieved April 18, 2014, from
http://www.bible.is/ENGESV/Gen/6


Genesis 7 | Bible.is (Bible.is Online). . Retrieved May 1, 2014, from
http://www.bible.is/ENGESV/Gen/7


Genesis 8 | Bible.is (Bible.is Online). . Retrieved May 18, 2014, from
http://www.bible.is/ENGESV/Gen/8


Genesis 9 | Bible.is (Bible.is Online). . Retrieved May 18, 2014, from
http://www.bible.is/ENGESV/Gen/9

* "Mercy Is"
Written by Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye
Performed by Patti Smith & Kronos Quartet
Patti Smith performs courtesy of Columbia Records

Kronos Quartet performs courtesy of Nonesuch Records

All pictures are the property of Paramount Pictures & Protozoa Pictures