Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Noah: Making Movies of Disasters

November 19, 2013 12:13 pm 3 comments

Russell Crowe as Noah. Photo: Screen shot.

Sandwiched between the Super Typhoon Haiyan last week and the devastation from tornadoes in Illinois a few days ago, I caught a first glimpse of the film trailer for “Noah,” set to hit theaters next spring.

Over the past decade (as I’ve written about), movies about either an oncoming apocalypse or a post-apocalyptic world have been on a constant loop. Having now drained the pool of every conceivable storyline, I suppose Paramount Pictures figured, why not go back to the very first Armageddon with next year’s “Noah.”

In the trailer, Noah, played by Russel Crowe, utters the words, “I saw water, death by water. And I saw new life.” Ironic how theaters are being flooded by apocalyptic disaster movies right when all these storms are hitting theaters!

There were some 81 reported tornadoes due to powerful storms across three states including central Illinois this weekend where six people died. Far worse is the destruction in the Philippines where there are some 2,275 confirmed deaths and another 3,665 hurt according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The pain and suffering felt by the victims of these disasters is as real as it comes. (And of course Israel is one of the first responders to any and all such tragedies.)

Yet there’s something in the way the thin veneer of a movie has of transforming real carnage into something manufactured out of celluloid.

Take for example the movie “Noah” being directed by Darren Aronofsky, a director with a knack for dancing the fine line between fantasy and reality and telling stories about characters who, depending on your take, hear voices in their head or are simply paranoid. Add a cocktail of drugs into the mix and voila, we have an Aronofsky fest.

This was the case in 2010’s “Black Swan,” where Natalie Portman’s Nina descended into a nightmare state, with a dose of ecstasy, over the pressures she had to endure to take on the role of the Swan Queen.

Likewise, in his “Requiem For a Dream”, he portrays hallucinations with drugs and bakes it into a psycho kiln of electroconvulsive therapy to create a movie about several characters’ delusions. He caps it off in the illusory hue of television’s carnival-like mirror when in Sara’s dream (played by Ellen Burstyn) she’s catapulted into TV land, winning the grand prize on a game show.

And in one of his earliest successes, “Pi”, he has number theorist Max Cohen, suffer cluster headaches, paranoia, and social anxiety disorder spliced onto a story that intertwines the Gematria and stock picks.

I’m guessing there will be a similar theme when our Noah, played by Crowe, is hearing G-d’s voice telling him to build an ark because a flood is coming and the audience will be made to wonder, as will most of his neighbors, if at age 600 he’s nuts or for real.

One can also assume Hollywood is going to graft a 21st century environmental theme onto the Biblical story—maybe even play Dylan’s “Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” or the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” as the credits role.

Written around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, some thought Dylan’s song referred to nuclear fallout (the cause célèbre of that day). However Dylan himself said that it wasn’t any specific reference and in a radio interview with Studs Terkel in ’63, responded,

“No, it’s not atomic rain, it’s just a hard rain. It isn’t the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen … In the last verse, when I say, ‘the pellets of poison are flooding the waters’, that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers.”

Indeed, when movies try to replicate disasters making them so palpable they practically become real – right as the news media is reporting on actual horrors – and turning them into spectacles, we can start to feel like we’re in an Aronofsky film.

Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at

This article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post.


  • Judging from the trailer, the Noah movie seems an arbitrary Hoolywood blurb. The acting comes across as B-level, and not even the CGI appears convincing. Then I saw a comment elsewhere saying that, given the present stage of science and education, the idea that all species where bred from a single surviving couple is insulting for the human intellect. I fully subscribe to this point of view. People who nevertheless believe in such a story should never board an airplane because according to their belief, only birds can fly and nothing else.

    • did you enjoy the movie of Thor? or any others based on legends?? Harry Potter was good movie huh? why do you put too much emotions for just movie?

      • I agree with you ! It’s a movie like all the others you mentioned, so just watch as entertainment and quit putting so much emphasis in the theologically aspect of it!!! Duh!
        Thor was a good movie but I do not expect the Gods to come riding in a tornado any time soon.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Opinion Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Late Friday night, on November 13, I was headed for bed when an ominous news bulletin flashed across my computer screen – something about a shooting in Paris. It wasn’t long before the “small number” of shootings and casualties began to double and triple and quadruple. The locations of attacks seemed crazily disorganized, and the tweets and videos became more and more horrifying. It was a long night for many stunned observers. We tried to understand what was happening, and […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Theater BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    In an interview with the Israeli site nrg on Wednesday, Belgian-Jewish stage actress Noemi Schlosser recounted immigrating to Israel after her career in Europe was destroyed by BDS. Schlosser said she had enjoyed success in Belgium and international acclaim until she was targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for her pro-Israel stance during Operation Protective Edge — last summer’s war against Hamas in Gaza. She described watching the theaters where she performed go from packed to nearly empty over a short period of […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    The manager of the Chelsea Football Club said on Monday that he is looking forward to playing in Israel this week against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in spite of the security situation, Israeli news site nrg reported. Jose Murinho, who is already in Israel with his team to compete against Maccabi in the Champions League soccer match, was  asked whether he was worried about the current wave of Palestinian violence sweeping the country. “I have no worries at all regarding the security situation, and neither do […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King’s College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth. “Britain’s ‘original sin,’ if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About

    With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About – The Mensch on a Bench is so much happier now than he was a year ago. Look carefully and you will notice that, whereas the previous Mensch had a decidedly worried look, this latest version of the popular Hanukkah toy is flashing an exuberant grin. Is the erstwhile Mensch smiling because he expects to be in some 100,000 homes by year’s end? In truth, the change in visage was suggested last year by the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Actor Adam Sandler unveiled a new version of his famous “Chanukah Song” on Saturday, adding a slew of Jewish celebrities to the ditty’s updated lyrics. The comedian — who released the original song about being Jewish during Christmas in 1996 — performed the latest version of the comedic track during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and “the two guys who founded Google” are among the famous Jewish celebrities now in the line up. Sandler also included lyrics about Star Wars‘ Princess […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom – Famed Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman will be among the 17 recipients of America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom next week. He is the fourth Israeli to receive the highest civilian honor in the US. “A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18,” a White House […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots

    Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots – While Israel is a common destination for cultural and religious pilgrimages, travelers seeking the best hotels, fine dining, and upscale relaxation less often find themselves in the Holy Land. Yet in recent years, the country’s burgeoning tech scene has attracted a business crowd accustomed to ritzy accommodation. Besides, the permanent summer of Tel Aviv and Eilat makes them prime destinations for European vacationers. Israel’s populace managed to tame the swamps and irrigate the desert — so going luxury should […]

    Read more →