Noah: God’s Orders

April 13, 2014 at 8:42 PM / by

Fellow Redterians, please gather round and I will tell you a story of how the world was created. Or better yet, Russell Crowe will in Darren Aronofsky’s new film Noah.

The film really isn’t the Old Testament story we remember of Noah and the Ark, on the contrary, it seems to be a meditation on the struggle between  our relationship with faith and free will.  Set in a timeless, yet fantastical, environment that echoes influence from the Neverending Story, Aronofsky attempts to use the blue print of the story of Noah and the Ark as a vessel to communicate his stance on understanding the universe.

One of the key things that seems to stick out in this version of the story of Noah, is its steadfast depiction and exploration of the character that is Noah and his relationship with the “creator.” Noah, obsessed and obeying, appears to challenge his own free will at various points in the film to please his creator. An examination of perfection and obsession have always been of high interest to Aronofsky in all his preceding films, but in different ways: A mathematician who sees patterns and finds the ultimate one, a group of drug abusers finding the perfect balance in their habits and daily life, a man trying to find the cure for death, an entertainer who risks his love and life to perform, a ballerina who is trying to achieve perfection in a performance. In Noah, we see a man who appears to assume their god’s desires, and follow through as a measure of blind faith, no matter what the cost.

Looking back through history, it’s impossible not to see that various conflicts between countries were influenced by religious differences. Within some of the same religions there seem to be differing groups that believe in the same god, but are conflicted over the interpretation of his word and his worship. Early on in the film we see Noah examine acts of the creator as well as his dreams that seem to predict the end of the world. A scene between Noah and Mathuselah, Noahs grandfather (played by Anthony Hopkins), examines this very idea of interpreting communication from god. Methuselah states that the creator “speaks in a way you can understand.” Although it is not words, it is images, the character of Noah is expected to take in such images, interpret them, follow through on their message and believe in them and their sender (you know what they say about assumption). As it is depicted, Noah is a religious man and has witnessed godly acts in the film, but is ultimately pushed to the point where he has to question his interpretation and judgement of the creator’s message to restrain himself from committing murder on innocense. He first comes to believe that all men are flawed and deserve to be removed of the Earth. They are all capable of wickedness. This view is challenged throughout the film.

A scene at the end of the film poses an alternate view for Noah’s dilemma. He is asked to view his decisions not as an extention of the creator, but of free will. This view, tied with Aronofsky’s time-lapsed creation of the universe (a very interesting sequence) seem to suggest that the creator endowed his universe with the possibility of free will (which eventually came into existence as man/animal), and in essence does not control every aspect of it.

Seeming to juxtapose the morality, for the most part, of Noah and his family, there are people who are left to die when the rains start. These people are depicted as vile and self-centered, although some appear to not be so (making the creator having murdered innocense). Their view, as iterated by their leader Tubal-Cain (played by Ray Winstone) is one that preaches that god has left them and anything they do is of their own choice. Nature is ultimately for them to decide what to do with.

Having begun to examine such concepts in my own work, I find it interesting interpreting Aronofsky’s messages about faith and free will. I believe he is trying to tell us that in our pursuit to understand the difference between faith and free will, we develop our own perception of right and wrong. It is always possible that in such a search, we can confuse the two principles. We can assume the will of our creator as Noah does and act upon it. As it is stated in the film, “We are made in his image,” therefore we harbor some of his powers. Tubal Cain and Noah both seem to believe in a creator and utilize their free will. What divides the two is how they use it.

If you get a chance, check out Noah.


Noah (2014) Poster



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