Yet another Noah’s Ark cartoon in the works?


Of making many Noah’s Ark cartoons, there is no end. The latest movie to join the parade is an adaptation of Geraldine McCaughrean’s Not the End of the World, an award-winning novel that tells the story of Noah’s Ark from the point of view of Noah’s youngest — and unwed — daughter, Timna.

Of course, there is no reference to Noah or his sons bringing any daughters aboard the Ark with them in the original Genesis story. Wives, yes, but daughters, no. So that would seem to be an invention of McCaughrean’s.

I am unfamiliar with the book, but it won the Whitbread Children’s Book Award in 2004 — three years after Philip Pullman‘s The Amber Spyglass won that same award, for whatever that’s worth — and this is how it was described in the official announcement released by the judges:

About the book:
Timna is Noah?s dutiful and unwed daughter; her destiny is to care for her parents when they reach old age. When the rains come, she leaves on the Ark with her family and watches on in horror as her friends and neighbours are washed, indeed sometimes pushed, away to their deaths. Her father has told her that the earth must be purged of abomination and sin but, unbeknownst to Noah, Timna has set in motion a chain of events that will drastically affect God?s plan. . . .

What the Whitbread judges said:
“With stunning imaginative force, rank physicality and luminous writing, this unsentimental book makes the old story utterly new, and engages with crucial matters – tolerance and the dangers of fundamentalism; suffering; womanhood; survival; and ultimately, God’s intentions.”

For what it’s worth, Timna would not be the first woman to challenge the divine plan in a popular re-telling of the Noah story. A woman named Yonah played a similar role in Children of Eden (my review), a stage musical written in the early ’90s by Stephen Schwartz — who also wrote the songs for the biblical movies Godspell (1973) and The Prince of Egypt (1998).

Here, meanwhile, are the relevant portions of a press release that was posted on the Illuminated Films website today:

Illuminated acquired the rights to Geraldine McCaughrean’s award winning novel (Oxford University Press) from agent David Higham Associates Limited. McCaughrean observes, ‘…warning: this is no straightforward rehash of Noah and his cuddly animals. It’s a grown-up adventure story – a dark thriller with a plot, an ending you don’t already know – and quite a lot besides. Any story set aboard the Ark necessarily involves cramming a lot into a small space. I really think that is what Illuminated are going to achieve – ideas, questions, humour, shocks and spectacle all cleverly stowed below decks. They are richly equipped to do it, and I could not be more delighted to have them translating my words into an ideal medium for the story. In fact, I can’t wait to see it!’ . . .

NOT THE END OF THE WORLD shakes up the familiar story of Noah’s Ark. Seen through the eyes of Noah’s youngest daughter, Timna, it becomes an electrifying tale of survival as she and her family face both external threats and internal dissent. Overlooked in the biblical tale, the women on board the Ark are brought to the fore, alongside Noah, his sons and an awe inspiring congregation of animals.

Kroon comments, ‘Geraldine wrote an unflinching, wickedly funny and intriguing book, brimming with hope. The movie will only bring out those qualities more. Humanity and blind faith collide; we are not pulling punches in this gritty tale.’

Following the successful completion of the script, Illuminated have now moved on to pre production of the feature, with Kroon at the helm.

Producer Iain Harvey states, ‘…I have always looked for stories that put their faith in people. NOT is an inspiring, deeply moving and richly comic thriller. An unusual list of attributes, I grant, but then we are working on a unique film with a highly visionary theme. This journey will be as momentous as that of the ark and its occupants.’

That brings the number of recent and in-development Noah’s Ark cartoons — whether literal or quasi-allegorical — up to seven. Other such films that I have noted here include:

  1. The Flood — Promenade Pictures
  2. Rock the Boat — Gaumont
  3. Aardvark Art’s Ark — Warner Brothers
  4. Noah’s Ark — Unified Pictures
  5. El Arca — Patagonik Film Group
  6. The Missing Lynx — Kandor Graphics

And that’s not counting the seemingly defunct projects that were once being developed by Bill Cosby and Walden Media — to say nothing of recent and proposed live-action efforts like Sold Out!, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Evan Almighty (2007).

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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