Noah

Just saw Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” and highly recommend it on cinematic and theological grounds. It’s a mesmerizing, brilliant, crazy interpretation of the Bible story—deeply personal, intelligent and serious. Don’t be thrown by the Transformer-like angels and the nods to Lord of the Rings and other fantasy epics. Aronofsky has simply done what most of us do when confronted with Biblical texts: he has internalized the story and its message, and made it his own.

On returning from the movie I immediately went to Genesis to read the original. The story is rich with metaphoric and narrative implications for religious and philosophical contemplation, but surprisingly skimpy on details. Aronofksy has colored the gaps with a remarkable combination of razzle-dazzle Hollywood convention, contemporary thinking,  and Talmudic investigation. Yes, he fiddles with the story, enhancing with plot twists and characters notably absent from Genesis.  Yes, his Noah is a vegetarian but also a bloody warrior—fiercely depicted by Russell (“Gladiator”) Crowe, whose Noah represents many sides of humanity.  This Noah is fierce, dogmatic, tender and fragile; a flawed but courageous man aiming for righteousness while condoning mass destruction to achieve the divine. His “triumph” is shadowed by sorrow.

With courageous and refreshing sincerity, the movie trumpets the critical dilemma Noah faced—can man be obedient to God (called Creator in the movie) and still exercise free will?

Lots to think about as Passover approaches and the story continues, many generations later….