Biblical epic 'Noah' tests director Aronofsky's blockbuster chops

Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:01pm EDT
 
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rain lashes down from the heavens while hungry followers of Cain trample over each other for a spot on Noah's massive wooden ark. The end is inevitable and, of course, not pretty.

Director Darren Aronofsky, best known for dark and unrelenting dramas such as the Oscar-nominated "Black Swan," would have it no other way in the biblical epic "Noah," which stars Russell Crowe and is set to be released in U.S. and Canadian theaters, as well as several other countries, on Friday.

"There's something elemental about the water," Aronofsky said. "Water has an incredible power to destroy and it also gives rebirth. It's an amazing force. So, I've just always wondered why no one ever brought it to the big screen."

The film distributed by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures is the auteur director's first big test of whether he can guide a big-budget spectacle to box office success.

And the risk-taking Aronofsky, 45, is sure to unsettle some along the way as the film blends one of the best-known Old Testament tales with the trademark psychological torment to which he routinely submits protagonists.

"We all have the Noah story inside of us since we were very young," the director said, making the case for why his challenging film can have wide appeal. "It's so deep, a part of not just Western culture, but everyone on the planet has heard of the Noah story. Even if it's not part of your belief system, you have a flood story."

The film also stars Jennifer Connelly as Noah's wife, Naameh, Anthony Hopkins as Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, and Emma Watson as Ila, the wife of Noah's eldest son, Shem, who is portrayed by Douglas Booth.

While faithful to the slim four chapters in the Bible, "Noah" also takes a detour into fantasy with the biblical Nephilim. Aronofsky explains the giant fallen angels made of rocks as a representation of a pre-flood Earth that was home to alternate possibilities of life.   Continued...

 
U.S. film director Darren Aronofsky poses during a photocall at the 12th Marrakesh International Film Festival in Marrakesh December 3, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer