Co-writer and director Darren Aronofsky has given the Biblical Noah a big-screen epic but is it the story that Noah desrves? There is no disputing how sweeping the visuals are and how they have been grounded by the strong acting performances that shine in this film.
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins and Logan Lerman star in the film.
Written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel, the film is inspired by the story of Noah in the Book of Genesis. But as any film inspired by the Bible, it’s just that: inspired. This reviewer is an Orthodox Jew so it would make since that there are so many things to nitpick that I don’t even know where to begin. Whether it’s characters invented just for the film or facts that are really wrong, even according to commentaries from Rashi, the Midrash, and elsewhere.
Noah has its faults but then so does DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, too. What we know from the Book of Genesis is that a total of 8 people were in the Ark during the Flood: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. In Aronofsky’s film, this number is reduced to Noah, his wife, their three kids, Ila (Emma Watson), and Tubal-Cain, who somehow managed to climb and sneak inside the ark.
Russell Crowe does a fine job portraying Noah.
Hopkins portrays Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, who is shown as being wiped out by the flood. However, the righteous figure passes away seven days before the flood as it is implied in Genesis 7:4, with commentary found in Sanh. 108b.
Noah’s father, Lamech, lived until he was 777–a good 595 years after Noah’s birth. This is an area where Darren distances from what is said in genesis. Lamech is seen performing some sort of ritual involving snake-skin but nothing is said about this in the Bible anywhere.
Ray Winstone portrays Tubal-Cain. While such character is mentioned in the Bible, it’s unknown whether they lived during generation before the Flood arrived.
Ila, played by Emma Watson, is clearly invented for the film. Commentaries suggest that marital relations were forbidden on the Ark and Ila becomes pregnant while on the Ark. Nothing in the Bible gives us her name or tells us that she had twins or anything else. We know that Shem had sons but noting is ever said of having girls.
Jennifer Connelly portrays Noah’s wife, Naamah, although no name is given to her in the Bible.
Before the flood, Ham runs away in hopes of finding a wife. He meets Na’el and hopes to save her but Noah doesn’t allow it. This is something made up for the film because Ham had a wife and she was on the Ark at the time.
As for the Watchers, these are supposedly the Nephillim that are mentioned in Genesis 6:4. However, Jewish commentaries do not suggest that they are fallen angels but the sons of nobles.
When Noah has a dream where he is underwater, he takes it as a sign from G-d that he is to do something. However, in the Book of Genesis, G-d talks directly to him rather than through Divine visions such as dreams or even hallucinogens. Moreover, nothing is mentioned of where the wood came from.
Before the flood, man did not eat meat. After the flood, they were given permission from G-d to eat meat.
As entertainment, the film is very well done with the acting and visuals. However, as a Biblical story, it is inspired by the Book of Genesis but outside of the exact size of the Ark, there are so many loose interpretations of Noah’s Ark. Tubal-Cain didn’t ride in the Ark but it is written in the Midrash that Og, the King of Bashan, rode out the flood in the Ark in a special compartment or having climbed to the top of the Ark and holding on for dear life.