Noah Blu-Ray options: do you want more bonus features, a steelbook package, or a Christian pop music CD?

One of the more regrettable trends these days is the tendency on the part of some studios to release multiple versions of a single DVD or Blu-Ray release. Nowadays, it’s not enough to put out two basic versions — a single disc with just the movie and a two-disc set with a bunch of bonus features — and release them both to all the retailers. Instead, the studios sometimes release multiple editions that are specific to individual retailers, so that each retailer can offer a different set of bonus features that none of the other retailers have.

Paramount Home Video is one of the worst offenders when it comes to this — just ask any Star Trek fan — so it comes as no surprise to hear that they are doing something similar with Noah, which comes out July 29.

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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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Behold the concept art for the Watchers of Noah!

Love ’em or hate ’em, one thing people can’t stop talking about after seeing Noah is the Watchers — angels who fell to Earth, lost their wings, and were encased in the molten rock that they crashed into.

In the early screenplay that leaked a couple years ago, and in the graphic novel that came out two weeks ago, the Watchers are basically organic; the screenplay describes them as “18 feet tall, ageless, sexless and covered with a light dusting of fur.”

But somewhere along the way, Darren Aronofsky turned them into rock monsters, spirits trapped in the rock they crashed into, whose struggle to rise from the tar was inspired by the wildlife covered in oil after the Exxon Valdez spill.

Paramount has studiously avoided releasing any official images of these creatures — even going so far as to delete them from shots that were used in the the trailers and early clips — but director Darren Aronofsky has not been so reticent, tweeting images of actors and voice-over artists standing in front of screens bearing images of the Watchers (or, as Aronofsky now prefers to call them, the Nephilim).

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The Jewish roots of — and responses to — Noah

If there’s one thing that has annoyed me about some of the debate around Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, it has been the persistent assumption — on both sides — that the film was made either for Christians or against Christians. Some people dismiss the film because they think the studio wanted to pander to the Christian market, while others think the film was made to subvert the beliefs of Christians. Rarely does anyone take a step back and say, “Hey, these filmmakers are Jewish, and the story of Noah comes from the Jewish scriptures. I wonder what Jewish audience members make of this film?”

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

The first time I saw Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, I took six pages of notes, and I watched it with the memory of an early draft of the screenplay lingering in my brain. So I was distracted on at least two levels: by a need to jot down as many quotes and facts as I could, and by an awareness of how the script had evolved. Never mind people who obsess over how the film may or may not have deviated from Genesis; I kept thinking of how the film was deviating from that early script!

Needless to say, I don’t normally take that kind of background knowledge to the theatre when I go to see a movie, and I knew it wouldn’t be fair to Noah to hold that knowledge against it either. I also knew I needed to just sit back and watch the movie like a proper movie, to bask in the drama and let it unfold.

And so, on Wednesday morning, I saw the film a second time. And I can think of no better way to sum up the difference between my two viewings of the film than to say that I didn’t cry at all the first time I saw Noah, but I shed tears on a few separate occasions the second time I saw it. It’s a powerful, powerful film.

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