Academy-Award winner Russell Crowe as Noah from Academy-Award nominated… (Niko Tavernise )
When filmmaker Darren Aronofsky was making the rounds for “Black Swan” a couple of years ago, our conversations would inevitably turn to his long-gestating, big-budget adaptation of the Noah’s Ark tale from the Book of Genesis.
And while we shared his fascination for the apocalyptic story, there was this gnawing feeling that this would be another of Aronofsky’s dream projects that would never come to fruition.
So today’s first-look at a weathered Russell Crowe as Noah, furrowing his brow, no doubt looking at the gathering storm clouds in the distance, makes us happy. Forgive us our doubt, Darren. We believe.
Aronofsky has been working on the screenplay since 2004, with his interest dating back to his childhood when he saw the low-budget Sunn Classic Pictures documentary “In Search of Noah’s Ark” at a movie theater.
Be warned, though: Aronofsky’s Noah might be a bit different from the bearded boat-builder most remember from the Bible. Aronofsky told us back then that he sees Noah as the “first environmentalist,” a man tormented by survivor’s guilt after living through the flood.
Aronofsky also seems unusually fascinated by Noah’s career as a vintner, enthusiastically proclaiming him to be “the first person to plant vineyards, drink wine and get drunk.”
Again: We’re guessing “Noah” isn’t going to come with a lesson plan for Sunday school classes.
“I was stunned going back and realizing how dirty some of those stories are,” Aronofsky said of rereading Genesis. “They’re not PG in any way. They’re all about sleeping with your brother’s sister who gives you a child who you don’t know. That kind of stuff got censored out of our religious upbringing.”
One other stray “Noah” observation: Anthony Hopkins costars opposite Crowe as Methuselah, a name that long ago entered the lexicon as a synonym for “geezer.” Methuselah is the oldest person mentioned in the Bible, dying at the ripe age of 969. He was also Noah’s grandfather. And, if you do the arithmetic, he happened to die the same year as the flood.
So, in Aronofsky’s “Noah,” does Sir Anthony’s Methuselah counsel his grandson? Does he pick up a saw and help him build the ark? Or might something more dramatic be in play? Biblical scholars have long debated whether Methuselah died in the flood. Might Hopkins wind up in a watery grave?
We’ll be following this project closely as it readies for a March 2014 arrival in theaters.
Follow Glenn on Twitter: @glennwhipp
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