From Noah to Climate Change Is a Leap, Director Says

But filmmaker Darren Aronofsky acknowledges his movie has an ecological message.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky participates in a panel discussion at the New York Times Cities for Tomorrow Conference on April 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for the New York Times)
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Christopher Snow Hopkins
April 27, 2014, 8 a.m.

The movie Noah, fea­tur­ing Rus­sell Crowe as the bib­lic­al char­ac­ter who res­cues Earth’s an­im­als from an apo­ca­lyptic flood, has gen­er­ated its own flood of de­bate since ar­riv­ing in theat­ers late last month.

Some en­vir­on­ment­al­ists em­brace the film as a call for ac­tion on cli­mate change, while some con­ser­vat­ives have at­tacked it as mis­an­throp­ic. “If you’re look­ing for a bib­lic­al movie, this is def­in­itely not it,” said one of the apostles of the far Right, com­ment­at­or Glenn Beck. “I don’t think it’s an en­vir­on­ment­al thing as much as it’s just so pro-an­im­al and an­ti­hu­man.”

To Noah‘s writer and dir­ect­or, Dar­ren Aronof­sky, the truth lies some­where in between. The film — pro­duced for an es­tim­ated $125 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the IM­DB web­site — might have an en­vir­on­ment­al mes­sage, but it’s mostly just a good show, Aronof­sky said last week at a pan­el dis­cus­sion sponsored the Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress.

“I was en­am­ored by this story, like most kids are,” Aronof­sky said at the event. “I re­lated al­ways to know­ing that I prob­ably wasn’t good enough to get on the boat. For me, it was a scary story.”

Ul­ti­mately, Aronof­sky con­ceded, Noah is neither a call to arms nor a polit­ic­al com­ment­ary. “We are just try­ing to make en­ter­tain­ment,” he said. Aronof­sky also dir­ec­ted Pi, Re­quiem for a Dream, The Foun­tain, The Wrest­ler, and Black Swan, for which he was nom­in­ated for an Academy Award.

When he was a teen­ager in Brook­lyn, Aronof­sky wrote a poem about Noah that al­most reads like a treat­ment for his fu­ture film. “Evil was in the world,” the poem be­gins. “The laugh­ing crowd left the fool­ish man and his ark filled with an­im­als when the rain began to fall.”¦ [Noah] knew evil could not be kept away for evil and war could not be des­troyed but neither was it pos­sible to des­troy peace.”

Shortly after that, in 1986, Aronof­sky was a 17-year-old kayak­ing on Alaska’s Prince Wil­li­am Sound when he ac­ci­dent­ally dropped a gran­ola-bar wrap­per in­to the sap­phire wa­ters. “It just killed me that I was the first per­son to pol­lute in Prince Wil­li­am Sound,” he said at the Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress event. “When I was a kid, there were places on the plan­et that were pretty un­touched.”

Three years later, the Ex­xon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince Wil­li­am Sound, spill­ing more than 250,000 bar­rels of crude oil. The pristine body of wa­ter that had cap­tiv­ated Aronof­sky was known there­after as the site of one of the worst en­vir­on­ment­al dis­asters in U.S. his­tory. He likened the Ex­xon Valdez spill to the whole­sale de­struc­tion of Earth in Noah.

Aronof­sky said that Noah also was in­formed by re­cent en­vir­on­ment­al calam­it­ies like Hur­ricane Sandy, which shut down pro­duc­tion for a week when it struck the East Coast in Oc­to­ber 2012. He said he was as­ton­ished by “how quickly things fell apart in New York”¦. The pro­du­cer of our movie was hous­ing like eight fam­il­ies.”

Aronof­sky main­tained that the eco­lo­gic­al mes­sage of Noah is con­sist­ent with Scrip­ture.

“To try to re­move an eco­lo­gic­al mes­sage from the story of Noah is a big­ger edit job than to em­phas­ize it,” he said. “[Noah]’s sav­ing the an­im­als. He’s not look­ing for in­no­cent ba­bies. It’s not the story of Ab­ra­ham go­ing to So­d­om to find sev­en in­no­cent men. It’s about sav­ing the an­im­als, so there is clearly an eco­lo­gic­al mes­sage in there.”

What We're Following See More »
WITH LIVE BLOGGING
Trump Deposition Video Is Online
6 hours ago
STAFF PICKS

The video of Donald Trump's deposition in his case against restaurateur Jeffrey Zakarian is now live. Slate's Jim Newell and Josh Voorhees are live-blogging it while they watch.

Source:
SOUND LEVEL AFFECTED
Debate Commission Admits Issues with Trump’s Mic
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.

Source:
TRUMP VS. CHEFS
Trump Deposition Video to Be Released
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."

Source:
A CANDIDATE TO BE ‘PROUD’ OF
Chicago Tribune Endorses Gary Johnson
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."

FUNERAL FOR ISRAELI LEADER
Obama Compares Peres to ‘Giants of the 20th Century’
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.

Source:
×