Exchanging his gladiator sword and horse and the adulation of crowds for coarse clothes and a tent somewhere in the wilderness does not make Russell Crowe skip a beat. In fact he looks perfectly at home in the harsh, barren surroundings of a world segregated by the choices humans have made. In this new movie, Crowe plays Noah, a man who belongs to the tribe of Seth, a peace-loving group of people who live off the land and believe in The Creator. As one of the last men of his tribe, it’s his responsibility to carry on his bloodline and live mindfully, just as his ancestors have done before him. Conflict is brought about by the descendants of Cain, who, after slaying his brother, went on to build great cities that eventually gobbled up the land’s resources. And as the descendants of the two tribes come face to face, death follows, just like it did the sons of Adam so long ago.
I went to see this movie not expecting too much from it. My religious knowledge concerning Noah is limited to the greater picture instead of the finer details and the movie blended the parts that I knew with interesting pieces that fit perfectly into the story. God is referred to as The Creator, and his appearance in the story is limited to weather-related effects instead of the white robed man, which adds more credibility to the narrative. The visual effects are stunning, the grandiose ark, the animals, the battle scenes, all contribute to a Lord of the Rings imposing grandeur. Jennifer Connelly plays Noah wife and she succeeds in bringing raw emotions into this retelling, as does Emma Watson whose part becomes harrowing to watch at a point. Ray Winstone, as Tubal-cain, the descendant king of Cain, is an opponent worthy of Crowe, and their fight scene is one of the best moments of the story. Anthony Hopkins is Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, and even though his role is small, it’s pivotal to the story nevertheless.
Although the director has chosen to tell a story using a well known biblical character, this can very well be a story set in our times, as it brings into focus issues humanity has been facing for a while: the overworking of land for profit, killing animals for the special powers they supposedly have, greed, war, and the list can go on. But it’s not only the dark side of humanity that gets displayed in all its ugliness; there is also love, forgiveness, and the ability to see beyond a narrow path and the belief into a better future. Noah has a task – to ensure the survival of the innocents – the animals. His path seems clear cut, and he has everything he needs in order to make sure his task is done. But as he struggles to do what he thinks he is supposed to, other elements complicate the story, and the eternal question looms large: is this really what he must do, or does he have a choice? Is this his destiny or can he take destiny into his own hands?
I really enjoyed this movie, most of all for its message which was delivered in a non-preaching manner that manages to use the story of Noah as a clever way to spotlight the human capacity for destruction and also its immense capacity for love and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, emotional, deep story that goes deeper than the story of a man who built an ark. It’s the story of an ending, and the possibility of a new beginning.
I was also disappointed to see the low ranking it got on imdb.com. A low 6.6/10 which was a pity, really. I wonder if people were frustrated by the deviation from the biblical story or they just did not get the message. Have you seen the movie? What did you think?
My rating: 8.5/10