Darren Aronofsky, the Director of Pi (1998), Black Swan (2010) and the upcoming Noah (2014) starring Russell Crow, has teamed with film writer Ari Handel to produce Noah; a new 72-page graphic novel featuring the biblical characters of the Old Testament, and the comic preview to the movie. Most Hollywood talents murder the story of Noah, making him a character of either schizophrenic quality, has no idea the relationship between God and man, or of the cliche prophet who speaks softly, and seems transcendently phony. For further emphasis see Jon Voigt's Noah's Arc (1999), and Charlton Heston's effervescent portrayal of Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956). Attack me if you will, but Heston's Moses is absurdly overacted.
Aronofsky's Noah, however, is a warrior. He is a hard, but humble man. He is youthful, with pre-teen children, and one adopted girl. His world is overrun with the dregs of society; they who stayed behind because of their wickedness when Noah's great-grandfather Enoch and his city were taken into Heaven. Now he is having visions of the great deluge, and of its ultimate consequences.
While Noah of the bible is assured of his destiny, and the destiny of the world, this Noah is not. His relationship with what he calls “the creator” is guesswork at best. Having suffered the wickedness of man, and seen the fulfillment of its sins Noah is not so sure he wants to repopulate the world. He is reluctant to even get started on the arc, until a fantastic miracle spurns him to action.
Throughout the book parts of “The Book of Genesis” are quoted to set the mood. And although many liberties are taken, the story is no less relevant, or less fantastic.
Why I like it: Noah stands on its own as a tightly written story, with transcendent illustrations by Canadian comic book artist Niko Henrichon. The book does not spit on Christian morals every other page. Even the villain, the leader of the remnants named Tubal-Cain is a human character who exhibits traits of darkest black, and lightest light. Murderous and compassionate. He is Noah's compliment, more dark than light to Noah's more light than darkness. The environment is surreal yet believable. Immersion in its fantastic concepts is as easy as stepping into a high mountain desert. The arc has no concrete form. The effect is that the sacred vessel remains mysterious and metaphysically appealing amid the madness.
The color palette is fleshy, and cool, communicating an apocalyptic feeling while dancing on our hopes. Throughout the novel the story draws you in, and whips you through the pages. Even as the flood is raging, there is plenty of drama to be had on the inside. And we are left breathless until the very end. And I won't say the end is rosy, or gleeful. It is fitting, and it is human.
Why I don't like it: It exalts the abstaining of meats, and gives the consumption of animals to the wicked. Not all righteous are vegan, and not all meat consumers are evil. Yep. There is a strange race of beings drawn from out of the blue that nevertheless perform their part, and are a representation of the relationship between the divine and mankind. There is an episode of immorality.
Why it doesn't matter whether I like it or not: it's an excellent story. It is not biblical. Understanding that will help the religious look past the quirks and appreciate the vision. Remember we're talking about Darren Aranofsky, who made films like Pi (1998) and Requiem For A Dream (2000). His ambition in creating worthy works of art is unbounded, and it has proved nothing but a benefit to those of us who consume and appreciate good media. I am looking forward to the film, with open mind, and excitement to see these panels come to life on the big screen March 28th. Be there!