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 music round-up: a featurette on Clint Mansell’s score, an interview with Patti Smith, and… a CCM music video?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been listening to Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah quite a bit since it came out last week. Intimate at times, big and bombastic at other times, it captures the emotional journey of the film rather well. Now Paramount has released a “featurette” on the soundtrack — more of an ad for it, really — and a few websites have posted interviews with Mansell and with Patti Smith, who wrote the film’s theme song ‘Mercy Is’. Plus we now have a music video of sorts with quotes about the film from church leaders and Christian film critics, all set to a praise-and-worship song. Check it all out below the jump.

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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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Creativity, conventions, and music in Noah and its trailers

Ever since he burst onto the scene with his first feature film, the trippy low-budget math-and-mysticism movie Pi (1998), Darren Aronofsky has established himself as a director with a unique set of interests, and as a director who tends to push his visuals and his stories well, well beyond the limits of conventional filmmaking. Paramount Pictures, meanwhile, is a major studio that is in the business of keeping things as safe and conventional as possible, so as to attract the widest audience possible (just look at what they did to Star Trek).

So it came as no surprise that, long after Aronofsky teamed up with Paramount to make his first big-budget studio movie, the Bible epic Noah, rumours began to circulate that there was tension between the two of them over the final cut of the film. And it has been interesting to see how the studio’s promotional campaign for Noah has gone out of its way to make the film look as generic as possible, while adjusting its definition of “generic” to suit whichever audience a given trailer is intended for.

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