When it was announced that Noah, Darren Aronofsky's next film, was going to be a retelling of the Biblical figure, it was thought the Black Swan director was tackling a traditional, though surely still fantastical, version of the familiar tale. In fact, Paramount has been officially calling the film a, "close adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark."
But it's not really that close of an adaptation.
The last time we checked, and admittedly it's been a while, the Bible's Noah was not a Mad Max-style warrior surviving in a pseudo post-apocalyptic world and he didn't have to face giants with six arms. Darren Aronofsky's is and six-armed giants he does face.
This isn't a grand, out-of-nowhere revelation, either, it just happens to be something most (ourselves included) haven't really picked up on or talked about with each new piece of casting. October 2011 saw the publication of the first entry in a graphic novel series created by Aronofsky, executive producer Ari Handel and artist Niko Henrichon, called Noah, For the Cruelty of Men. Here's a translated description of the series, created to help sell the film to Paramount, from its French publisher, Le Lombard:
His name is Noah. Far from the stereotype of the patriarch that one appends the character of the Bible, he looked like a warrior. He looks like a Mad Max out of the depths of time. In the world of Noah, pity has no place. He lives with his wife and three children in a land barren and hostile, in the grip of severe drought. A world marked by violence and barbarism, delivered to the savagery of the clans that draw their reason to survive from war and cruelty.
But Noah is like no other. This is a fighter and also a healer. He is subject to visions which announce the imminent end of the earth, swallowed by the waves of an endless deluge. Noah must notify his followers. If man is to survive, he must end the suffering inflicted on the planet and "treat the world with mercy". However, no one is listening.
The tyrant Akkad, who Noah went to visit in the city of Bal-llim, chased him and sentenced him to flee. After consulting with his grandfather Methuselah, Noah decided to rally to his cause the terrible Giants and accomplish the task entrusted to him by the Creator...
It seems the key concept there is "out of the depths of time." This isn't a historical period piece. Noah's is a story that exists outside of what we know to be, which sounds almost like a Stephen King/The Dark Tower, 'the world has moved on' type post-apocalyptic scenario. It may not even be Earthly, it's all just a vehicle for the Noah metaphor, and that's fine by us.
As for the 'terrible giants' mentioned above, Drew McWeeny at HitFix wrote about the casting of Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah and refers to a portion of the script where Noah has to travel through their land, presumably to seek their help, only in the script they're called Watchers and are, as Drew puts it, "eleven-foot-tall fallen angels with six arms and no wings." You can see what these Watchers look like in the below cover for the second volume in the series. The German cover is on the left, the French on the right:
And those aren't the only images from the graphic novel floating around, either. You can see quite a few more below, each offered at the publisher's website as a preview and drawn by Marvel and DC Comics veteran artist Henrichon. In particular we recommend checking out the very first page of the series, which does an impressive job of establishing a tone that's at once biblical and yet divergent in a striking, immediate way. Will it be the opening shot of the film? One can hope.
And as if the visuals alone aren't indication enough that Aronofsky and company are breaking from the traditional notion of Noah, here's what Henrichon had to say about the project on his website. The translation is rough in spots, but the overall sentiment is quite clear:
Those familiar with Aronofsky's films are sure to notice his tendency to stage ambiguous and unexpected events pushed to their extreme limits, changing forever the fate of the protagonists. It's the same with our version of the myth of Noah. Those who believe that we are just going to recycle the myth of the Old Testament may be disappointed. I was told recently that this first volume was almost too normal for Aronofsky. Well done! To say more would just spoil the surprise.
And we completely agree with Henrichon on that last point. We're done digging into the world of Aronofsky's Noah through translations of its graphic novel (not that any translation is needed for the visual power of some of these pages), because we're sufficiently excited by what's already out there. We never doubted for a second that Aronofsky would be putting a unique spin on the classic tale, but we're thrilled at these early glimpses of just how unique it will be.
It looks as though the core themes are all still there, and we'll patiently, but anxiously, wait to see what they end up looking like when viewed through the lens of the man who made The Fountain, and brought to life by the likes of screenwriter John Logan (Hugo, Rango), cinematographer Matthew Libatique (The Fountain), actors Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, and Ray Winstone, plus a whole host of other artists whose names we don't even know at this point.
Hopefully you're as excited as we are.
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