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 »
Fusion GPS Founder Alleges Trump-Mafia Connection
1 hours ago

The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.

Senate Dems Say They Can Block Spending Measure
3 hours ago

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."

House Introduces Sexual Harassment Overhaul
4 hours ago

The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.

Mueller’s Team Scrutinizing Russian Embassy Transactions
5 hours ago
FBI Investigating Potential Russian Donations to NRA
5 hours ago

"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.