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Noah has a lot on its mind.
As a Deist of sorts and a huge fan of Aronofsky's previous films, I had very mixed feelings coming into this movie, wondering how it could possibly work, but I tried not to let that cloud my judgment while I was watching. Fortunately, Darren Aronofsky succeeded marvelously in bringing the timeless tale of the death and rebirth of the world to life. Though the story is relatively simple, I could talk for hours about the themes that this film deals with and the questions it poses: Is mankind worth saving from destruction? Are we, burdened as we are with self-awareness and free will, doomed to make a mess of the world we have found ourselves in? Noah (the movie) did so many things right when they could just as easily have gone horribly wrong. It did not shy away from depicting the wretchedness of the descendants of Cain, nor did it gloss over their total demise in the Deluge. The screams that Noah's family heard, and the scene of the people desperately climbing up the crags of rock that had not yet been submerged are haunting. Surprisingly enough, the most engaging scene for me was Noah's narration of the Creation story, told over a cinematic depiction of the actual scientific understanding of the universe's origin... including evolution! Then it cuts to the legendary progenitors of humans as self-aware, cultural beings (Adam and Eve) who chose to defy God and separate themselves from the natural order of things, and to Cain, the symbolic progenitor of murder. The juxtaposition of Cain murdering Abel with the silhouettes of dozens of war-fighters throughout history was utterly chilling. Aronofsky has a way of bringing out the best possible performances from his actors, and this is the first time I've seen such high- caliber acting on Russel Crowe's part in years. Crowe's Noah is both sympathetic and frightening, and Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson also give emotionally charged performances as his wife Naameh and adopted daughter Ila respectively, though they have comparatively fewer opportunities to demonstrate their talent.
This is a monumental, moving film that should be seen by believers and non-believers alike. It saddens me that Noah has had so much hate directed towards it for what seem (to me, at least) to be illogical and trivial reasons, or that are critical of the movie's theology rather than its own merits.