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Is Darren Aronofsky’s Noah an environmentalist?

April 1st, 2014
02:53 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Is the Noah portrayed in Darren Aronofsky’s new film about Genesis’ great flood an “environmental wacko”?

To listen to the fringe critics, the answer is yes. But Aronofsky – whose film has swept the box office in its first days of release – says he stayed true to the Bible.

“It's in Genesis,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Tuesday. “Noah is saving the animals; he's not out there saving innocent babies, he's saving the animals, he's saving creation.”

“It was very clear to us that there was an environmental message. To pull that message out of it, we think, would have been more of an editing job than just sort of representing what's there.”

Was Noah an environmentalist?

Make a film about the Bible, expect controversy.

Make a film about the Bible after a lifetime of directing bleak films about death, drug addicts, and crazed obsessives – expect lots of controversy.

In his perhaps surprising turn to the Bible – he says Noah has been a “patron saint” for him since he wrote a Noah-themed poem at age 13 – Aronofsky has steered well clear of the childhood tales of happy animals living on a ship in harmony.

His flood is dark and deadly, shot in tones of grey and black.

But if there’s a surprise for Aronofosky, it’s how much the biblical epic has been welcomed.

The fact that “only” four countries have banned the film, Aronofsky said, shows a “very small response.”

“Now that people are seeing the movie, the issues are really evaporating. In fact, it's being embraced a lot by all different religious groups, and people are excited by it, because I think we deeply honored the words of Genesis.”

There is preciously little written in the Old Testament about the story of Noah, and Aronofsky – who co-wrote the script – “studied every word.”

It is “the first cautionary tale,” he told Amanpour. “If you are wicked, if you fill the world with wickedness, you will get punished.”

“And if you look at what's happening right now, the fact that here we are today and that U.N. report came out – you know, it's very powerful.”

A report released by the United Nations this week says that far from an abstract problem, climate change is affecting the world today, in enormous ways.

“The water is rising, and we already saw it once,” Aronofsky said. “We are living the second chance that was given to Noah.”

Aronofosky’s films have a way of putting his audiences in uncomfortable situations, and in that sense ‘Noah’ may be no different.

The New York Times’ film critic, A.O. Scott, said, “The riskiest thing about this movie is its sincerity.”

“I guess I'm – I'm kind of earnest,” Aronofsky said. “But I feel like the situation is a bit dire on the planet right now, and it's time to…you know, make entertaining films. And at the bottom line, "Noah" is…entertainment.”

“It's a very thrilling, exciting film, but if you can sort of actually connect to the cautionary message that's in the Bible, that's great.”

The “creator” – as he is called in the film – of “Noah” is a malevolent being, punishing wrongdoing and killing wrongdoers.

“That, to me, was the core of this film: To start off with someone who understands the wickedness of the world and wants justice, and then finds a place of mercy and forgiveness and a second chance.”

“Believe it or not, mythic or not, we are living that second chance right now – and what are we going to do about it?”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Larry

    Christian talked too much. Her questions are misleading and trying to push Darren to confirm her idea of the movie.
    Darren said it very clearly it's not about climate change so stop it Christian. We are not interested in what a reporter says what we are interested in is what the man of the hour has to say.

    April 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  2. ak badjie

    larry. amanpour knows what she is doing, and she asked right questions so why are you speaking against her?

    April 1, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  3. We Kurtz

    Hmmm – I suppose by the logic Noah was an environmentalist then Santa was a philanthropist, and Beaker from the Muppets a Nihilist. An they're all real cause I saw them on the TV.

    April 1, 2014 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  4. mkmk08

    I’m a regular guy in my thirties. I’m a Christian and go to church from time to time. Here’s my take on the movie Noah. First the positives and then its issues.

    There were a few messages in the film I viewed as positive. It doesn’t question the idea of a Creator but rather simply assumes there is a God. The movie also conveyed certain positive values such as the benefit of listening to God, the portrayal of God’s nature as loving and forgiving, and family loyalty. It also does not shy away from the fact that mankind has fallen and needs saving.

    Unfortunately, there are many issues with this film that do not portray the “essence, values, and integrity” of the Biblical account. Many parts were either completely made-up or flat out opposite to what the Bible says. Here are a few examples:

    1) The movie references fallen angels who turned into rock people. Aronofsky may have gotten inspiration from the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4, but the idea that there were angels who tried to help Adam and Eve in the garden who then fell to the earth and turned into rock people is blatantly made-up and not in the Bible at all.

    2) In the Bible, Noah's three sons all had wives, and they all brought their wives with them on the boat.  The scene where Noah lets the girl get trampled while grabbing his son is incorrect – as they all had their wives with them (Genesis 7:13).

    3) The Bible gives no account of the birth of twins from one of the girls on the boat, and Noah certainly did not try to kill anyone. This film portrays Noah as homicidal, while the Bible says he was a just man and walked with God (Genesis 6:9).

    4) The bad guy sneaking on the ship – not in Bible.

    5) The evolution scene is not Biblical. Species do adapt to their environment, but God spoke all living things into being. Nothing evolved from one thing into another (Genesis 1).

    6) Overall – the big error.  Noah's was not charged by God to decide whether the human race would continue or not.  It was not Noah's choice, as the movie depicts, to make that decision.  God’s reasoning behind the flood was not to eradicate humankind. He was grieved in His heart because of man’s continual evil. Noah was charged by God to save his family and the animals and re-populate the planet with humans. Noah accomplished this directive.  God desires relationship with us and ultimately sent Jesus as a way to reconcile us to Himself.

    While Aronofsky and Paramount have the right to make and release what they want, there is a huge difference between taking artistic license and completely misrepresenting the facts. Calling this movie Noah is a disservice to the general public. Many people who watch this film will leave the theater thinking the Bible says something it doesn't at all. 

    By the way, one last area which is an issue to me is on the topic of faith.  Noah was a man of faith.  God gave him a vision, and he acted on it, trusting what God told him even though he didn’t understand the why or how.  Noah persevered.  So, in addition to the above, the movie also misses the role and importance of faith in being led by God.  Hebrews 11:7

    April 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      You criticize the film for not sticking rigidly to the script (the Bible) but surely you are aware that the authors of the Bible themselves have taken this story from earlier sources (namely the Gilgamesh epos)? You accuse Aranofsky of something that the authors of the Bible themselves are guilty of - changing and embellishing the original story to suit their target audience.

      April 3, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Reply
    • Ron

      good analysis. Animal rights should be proud of it though.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  5. jqazm

    Very Nice 😉

    April 4, 2014 at 2:39 am | Reply
  6. Ron

    Really the epic of Gilgamesh didn't contain a guy named Noah. And rain for only 7 days and nights, could've survived on a raft for that long. Hollywood's embellishments "liberties" didn't add anything to the movie.

    April 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  7. Josh

    "says he stayed true to the Bible."

    That is probably the most laughable lie I've ever heard. I wish he would just be honest and admit that he wanted to tell the gnostic/kabbala version of the Noah story. I'd have had no issue with that.

    @"Matt" I swear...suddenly everyone thinks they are an expert in the development of ancient mythologies. Will people just stop repeating the same errors about the Gilgamesh epic and actually do some balanced, detailed research?

    April 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Reply

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