Noah, the Biblical epic starring Russell Crowe will hit theaters in Darren Aronofsky's preferred version.
The director of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan has been gestating a project about the story of Noah since be began production on Pi back in 1998. It’s taken him 15 years to bring the Old Testament tale to the big screen and he’s finally achieved a version he feels comfortable with and most confident to release worldwide. News from Paramount Pictures is that Aronofsky’s cut of the film will be the one released in cinemas over the test-screened versions.
The critical success of Aronofsky’s last two films, Black Swan and The Wrestler, returned him to the good graces of the big studios. Paramount Pictures financed over $100 million for the production of what would inevitably be a controversial subject matter. In the past, such Hollywood luminaries like Martin Scorsese and Mel Gibson have tackled tales of the Bible for cinematic translations. Gibson hit a goldmine with his ultra-violent Passion of the Christ, which is considered one of the most profitable independent movies of all time. Scorsese also tackled a tale of the Passion with The Last Temptation of Christ. Both films have held the test of time for better or worse, but were met with extreme controversy and discussion before, during, and after their release.
Enter Darren Aronofsky with his take on the Old Testament tale. Noah, who hears a message from God to build an ark in order to avoid the oncoming flood that will eviscerate the evils of the world and must occupy the wooden ship with two of every animal in order to preserve civilization. No surprise Jor-El himself, Russell Crowe is the person for the job.
The movie had been going through several test screenings, and both Aronofsky’s earlier rough-cut of the film as well as Paramount’s have been testing relatively the same. Neither version had all its visual effects in place, or score, and ran too long at two and half hours; the final version is 132 minutes long. Aronofsky has been able to bring his “Indie” filmmaker approach to the movie stating:
“I’m a great closer…I’ve never reshot a frame, and I think that’s very odd on big-budget movies. We’re meticulous. We come from independent film, with limited resources.”
What makes this story rather unusual is the studio involvement. If a film doesn’t appear to be testing well, a studio usually will go in with reshoots, pick-ups, and editing to try and get it down to a slimmer more digestible mainstream version. Aronofsky originally stated that he was not pleased with Paramount going ahead and testing several different versions of the film, but won in the end as it will be his motion picture hitting theaters come March.
Aronofsky explained his own vision in more detail:
We wanted to smash expectations of who Noah is. The first thing I told Russell is, ‘I will never shoot you on a houseboat with two giraffes behind you.’ … You’re going to see Russell Crowe as a superhero, a guy who has this incredibly difficult challenge put in front of him and has to overcome it.
Such a description brings forth the notion that the film will be filled with dream-like (nightmarish more likely) visuals and lend itself to a story more ‘inspired by’ than ‘based on’ the tale from the Bible. Religious groups are already beginning to voice their concerns and opinions of a film tackling a biblical tale with the same approach as a super-hero story. The true test will be the films release. Where will we see it land on the blockbuster spectrum? Wait until March 28 before making up your mind.
Images: Paramount Pictures