Exclusive: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel on how they developed the script and where they really got the name for Emma Watson’s character in Noah

My interviews with Darren Aronofsky: 1998 | 2014 pt 1 | 2014 pt 3 | 2014 pt 4

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of seeing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and speaking to both Aronofsky and his co-writer/co-producer Ari Handel immediately after the screening. The following is part two of our conversation. You can read part one here. The film comes out Thursday night.

I’ve heard multiple times about the poem that you wrote, was that high school or is that late elementary, or–?

Darren Aronofsky: That was seventh grade, so I was like 12, 13, probably.

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The Noah trailers: a shot-by-shot analysis

It can be fascinating to see how the same movie is marketed to different audiences. Is Noah a family man of prayer, as the trailers that have played at various church conferences suggest? Or is he an action hero who wields weapons in self-defense, as the just-released international trailer suggests? Well, in Darren Aronofsky’s hands, he appears to be both — and that’s just one of several fascinating ways in which the trailers for Noah are sending different signals to their various markets.

What follows is a shot-by-shot analysis of the two trailers that were released today, focusing primarily on the North American trailer, but continuing with some screen-caps from the international trailer and a note about the elements in the church-conference trailers that were not included in these new trailers.

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A few brief thoughts on the screenplay for Noah

In all the years that I’ve been writing about film, I have read only a few screenplays before seeing the films in question. Last week I added Darren Aronofsky’s Noah to that very short list.

The script I read is credited to Aronofsky and Ari Handel and seems to be identical to the one that has already been reviewed by Christian screenwriter Brian Godawa and Hitfix columnist Drew McWeeny. However, I don’t want to say too much about it here, because it seems we’ve all read an earlier draft than the one that was used to make the actual film.

For one thing, when Paramount announced two years ago that it was going to produce the film, they also announced that John Logan had been hired to rewrite the script — yet his name appears nowhere on the undated screenplay that I read. For another, there have been reports for almost a year now that Ray Winstone will be playing a “nemesis” of Noah’s named Tubal-Cain — and yet there is no character by that name in the screenplay that I read.

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Review: Gladiator (dir. Ridley Scott, 2000)

People may mock the pieties of ancient biblical epics, but when I was a lad, I watched them for the gore. Ben-Hur was a particular favorite: slaves were crushed under the collapsing hulls of their ships, Charlton Heston ran around the deck throwing spears through pirates and shoving torches in their faces, and of course there was the carnage of that famous chariot race, in which, among other things, Stephen Boyd was dragged by his own horses and trampled by the thoroughbreds behind him.

I thought of that film while watching Gladiator, the first true sword-and-sandals epic since the 1960s. Set in the second century, it follows a similar storyline, and it’s full of beheadings, stabbings, and flaming arrows; one person is even split in half by the spoke on a passing chariot wheel. Russell Crowe plays Maximus, a victorious Roman general who is betrayed by the jealous new emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) and enslaved, his family slaughtered. With nothing to live for but revenge, Maximus distinguishes himself in the arena and ultimately works his way to the big leagues in Rome, where he itches for a chance to stand before Commodus again and plunge something sharp into the emperor’s belly.

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