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July 17, 2012 3:24 pm

“Make for Yourself an Ark of Gopher Wood”, Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ Film Develops

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Email a copy of "“Make for Yourself an Ark of Gopher Wood”, Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ Film Develops" to a friend

Production work for Aronofsky's "Noah" film. Photo: @DarrenAronofsky.

Darren Aronofsky’s dreams are finally coming true. As he tweeted recently, production is underway on his film adaptation of the Torah’s story of Noach, a project he has ambitiously hoped to make since his Bar Mitzvah. The filmmaker behind Pi, The Fountain, and the Academy Award-winning Black Swan is taking a radical (by Hollywood standards) approach to the source material by going beyond the literal King James Bible text that most western societies are familiar with and delving into Rabbinic commentaries and Midrashic embellishments to round out a more intense, contemporary-feeling retelling. Our sages teach that no part of the Torah is mere history, but is meant to have a continually modern application. Aronofksy’s Noah seeks to play in that sandbox.

The new film has an all-star cast that continues to grow. Russell Crowe has been cast as the titular Noah, with Jennifer Connolly as his wife Naameh, Ray Winstone as a rival of some kind, and Anthony Hopkins as Noah’s grandfather Metushelach (Methuselah), the oldest living man at that time, who was given the honor of  passing away prior to the flood. Two of Noah’s three sons have also been cast, and Emma (Harry Potter) Watson and Saoirse (Atonement) Ronan are also linked to the film, presumably as the sons’ wives.

As details about the film’s story have begun to emerge, film bloggers have acted with shock at the audacity of Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel’s vision. The building of a giant physical ark (pictured above) is a rarity in a filmmaking landscape where everything is computer generated, but the story starker elements are what seem to be truly shocking some critics. The world that this Noah inhabits is full of devastation and drought, where vicious hordes of corrupted people rule the landscape; a concept glimpsed in the graphic novel version of the story released last year in Europe. What’s more, this is an age when man existed side by side with creatures unknown to us today, such as giants and angels. The Watchers, as they are called in the script, are eleven-foot-tall fallen angels with six arms and no wings. Drew McWeeny, film editor for HitFix.com, has read the script and describes it thusly:

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“As wild and dangerous as parts of the script read, I think it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when people start to discuss the ideas embedded in the work and Aronofsky’s approach to Biblical history.  Is his movie meant as pure allegory?  Is this how Aronofsky imagines actual events?  There is a sincerity from the very first page that will make it hard for people to argue with Aronofsky’s intent here.  He’s written this as a serious look at our place on this planet and our rights as citizens of the world.”

McWeeny goes on to say that “I think it would be hard to pin this version of the story down to any one faith, and in shaking off the dusty respectability of the accepted version of the story, Aronofsky and Handler may have actually found a way to give it a stronger thematic resonance than I would have imagined.” While diverging from the established popular notion of the Flood narrative and certainly taking their own liberties, it is obvious that Aronofsky and Handel are drawing heavily on their Jewish backgrounds for this approach. With all due respect to Mr. McWeeny, it is much more apparent to those who have studied the Judaic exegesis.

Noah is expected to be released in the USA on March 28th, 2014.

This post first appeared in Jewish Art Now.

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  • nem

    Saoirse Ronan does not appear to actually be in the movie. That’s outdated.

    Jewish actor Logan Lerman and “half Jewish” actress Jennifer Connelly are in it, though.

  • kevobx

    Noah, found grace in the eyes of the Lord, as the world found favors? These earthly church Christians are so dumb, just by following after Esau the elder, thou art, the white / red blooded man & his nation of people. Please read out loud (Luke 1:20). *1st Samuel 4:22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken. *Revelation 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (1st Samuel 4:18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he judge Israel forty years. *John 18:6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. (Daniel 10:15)

  • kevobx

    Have you ever read the book of Enoch? *Genesis 4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son Enoch. *Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Luke 15:32). *Jude 14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints. (Deuteronomy 32:30) First of all, Enoch father Cain (John 8:44) is a murderer of his own brother Able. Am I my brother’s keeper? *Genesis 9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. *Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (The opposite of grace is pride, God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble) The world is asking for favours, and rejected the grace of God (The state of Israel mine inheritance, read out loud Hebrews 12:17 equals Jeremiah 16:18)

  • HY GERSHON

    UNTIL THIS MOVIE COMES OUT OUR IMAGINATONS WILL CREATE FOR US THE STORY OF NOAH, THE ARK AND THE FLOOD IN OUR MIND’S EYE. WHEN WE GET TO SEE ARONOFSKY’S FILM IT WILL CHANGE ALL THAT. WILL IT BE FOR THE BETTER? AT LEAST IT SHOULD BE ENTERTAINING AND, PERHAPS, INFORMATIVE AS WELL. LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING IT, ESPECIALLY WITH SUCH FINE ACTORS PORTRAYING THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS.

    • Johnie Kemp

      Have you ever read The Book of Enoch? I wonder if Aronofsky has done so? I cannot recall if the book details the appearance of the Watchers, but it certainly relates their effect on the lives of humanity during the Noahicic era. Fascinating. I look forward to seeing this film.

  • HY GERSHON

    UNTIL THIS MOVIE COMES OUT OUR IMAGINATONS WILL CREATE FOR US THE STORY OF NOAH, THE ARK AND THE FLOOD IN OUR MIND’S EYE. WHEN WE GET TO SEE ARONOFSKY’S FILM IT WILL CHANGE ALL THAT. WILL IT BE FOR THE BETTER? AT LEAST IT SHOULD BE ENTERTAINING AND, PERHAPS, INFORMATIVE AS WELL. LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING IT, ESPECIALLY WITH SUCH FINE ACTORS PORTRAYING THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS.

  • HY GERSHON

    UNTIL THIS MOVIE COMES OUT OUR IMAGINATONS WILL CREATE FOR US THE STORY OF NOAH, THE ARK AND THE FLOOD IN OUR MIND’S EYE. WHEN WE GET TO SEE ARONOFSKY’S FILM IT WILL CHANGE ALL THAT. WILL IT BE FOR THE BETTER? AT LEAST IT SHOULD BE ENTERTAINING AND, PERHAPS, INFORMATIVE AS WELL. LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING IT, ESPECIALLY WITH SUCH FINE ACTORS PORTRAYING THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS.

  • HY GERSHON

    UNTIL THIS MOVIE COMES OUT OUR IMAGINATONS WILL CREATE FOR US THE STORY OF NOAH, THE ARK AND THE FLOOD IN OUR MIND’S EYE. WHEN WE GET TO SEE ARONOFSKY’S FILM IT WILL CHANGE ALL THAT. WILL IT BE FOR THE BETTER? AT LEAST IT SHOULD BE ENTERTAINING AND, PERHAPS, INFORMATIVE AS WELL. LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING IT, ESPECIALLY WITH SUCH FINE ACTORS PORTRAYING THE PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS.

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