The thematic and visual links between Noah and Darren Aronofsky’s earlier films: a gallery

vlcsnap-2014-10-03-16h13m51s23The six films made by Darren Aronofsky to date all tackle different genres and subjects, but they also have some striking things in common.

For one thing, they have generally been made by the same creative team, including composer Clint Mansell (who has scored all six of Aronofsky’s films), cinematographer Matthew Libatique (who has shot all of Aronofsky’s films except for The Wrestler) and a number of recurring actors (such as Jennifer Connelly, Ellen Burstyn and especially Mark Margolis).

But the films also have some thematic overlaps. As I mentioned in my review of Noah for Books & Culture, Aronofsky films often dwell on the notion that it is impossible to touch perfection and survive. They also tend to revolve around characters who are obsessed with something, often to the characters’ detriment. And more often than not, they tend to make references to the Bible, some more pronounced than others.

And that brings us to Noah. When the film came out, a number of critics (such as The Playlist’s Drew Taylor) noted that it had some striking things in common with The Fountain in particular. But Noah actually harks back — visually and thematically — to pretty much all of Aronofsky’s earlier films to one degree or another.

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Noah interview round-up: d.p. Matthew Libatique

I already have “interview round-ups” for director Darren Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel, so hey, why not one for cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who actually shot the images without which a film like Noah couldn’t exist?

Libatique went to film school with Aronofsky and has shot all but one of his feature films (the exception being 2008’s The Wrestler). Libatique even shot a couple of Aronofsky’s early short films!

Libatique has also worked multiple times with filmmakers like Spike Lee (She Hate Me, Inside Man, Miracle at St. Anna), Joel Schumacher (Tigerland, Phone Booth, The Number 23) and Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Cowboys & Aliens).

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No, Noah is not Gnostic. (Say that ten times fast!)

Thanks to a lengthy blog post by Brian Mattson, a theologian with the the Center for Cultural Leadership in California, the latest meme to work its way into public discussion of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is that the film is somehow Gnostic, and that it presents a worldview in which God is really Satan and vice versa.

Is there anything to Mattson’s claims? Not really, and here’s why.

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First impressions: Noah (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2014)

It’s tempting to say that Darren Aronofsky’s Noah has brought back the Bible epic. It’s certainly the first major live-action Bible movie to be produced by a Hollywood studio in decades. But the fascinating thing about this film is how utterly different it is from the Bible movies that came before it. Aronofsky has not revived the genre so much as he has utterly transformed it.

Unlike most Bible films, which take place within decidedly historical contexts, Noah is based on the earliest, most “mythic” chapters of Genesis, as well as some of the Jewish legends that have grown up around those chapters. Building on the ancient otherworldliness of these stories, Aronofsky has created a grounded yet somewhat fantastical environment that is, at times, strikingly reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings movies.

But the core biblical themes — of temptation, wickedness and punishment — are still there, and Aronofsky infuses the genre with his own personal style, not least in his use of haunting dream sequences and in his focus on a morally ambiguous protagonist.

Put it all together and you’ve got something quite unique.

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Noah soundtrack album to be released by Nonesuch

The latest bit of Noah news isn’t exactly surprising, but it’s nice to have it confirmed just the same: a soundtrack album featuring the music composed by Clint Mansell and played, in part, by the Kronos Quartet will be released by Nonesuch Records, the label that has handled nearly all of the Kronos Quartet’s albums since 1986. This soundtrack marks the third big-screen collaboration between Mansell and the Quartet; they previously worked together on the scores for Requiem for a Dream (2000) and The Fountain (2006), both of which, like Noah, were directed by Darren Aronofsky. Album details and a release date are expected in the next few weeks. The film itself comes out seven weeks from today.

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Aronofsky, studio reportedly spar over final cut of Noah

Talk about timing. Earlier today, I finally caught up with a mixed “review” of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah that was based on a test screening that took place in August. And now, mere hours later? The Hollywood Reporter has posted a story claiming that Aronofsky and the studio are sparring over the final cut of the film, thanks to the “troubling reactions” that the film has received at various test screenings in recent weeks.

Reportedly, the studio has screened different versions of the film for Jewish, Christian and general audiences, and in all three cases the reaction was “worrisome”. But Aronofsky, whose previous films were all low-budget independent efforts (with the possible exception of The Fountain, which was made at Warner Brothers and was originally going to be a much more epic sort of film before the studio slashed its budget), has so far resisted the studio’s suggestions re: how to make the film more marketable.

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