Paul: How did your Jewish identity play into making this film? I know you are talking to a lot of Christians, but Jews exist.
Darren: Well, it is very much our tradition to do this. Jews have been looking at the Old Testament for thousands of years and talking about it. And we'll use the biggest stories in there to try to understand the smallest problems of life and the biggest problems of life.
Commentary is something we Jews have been doing for a long time. We've been doing post-modern literature before it was around. Taking apart texts in all different kinds of ways and trying to make sense of it. Respecting the text, and looking at the text and trying to understand it as we move forward. That's how we approached it.
If you look at the genealogy of the 10 generations of Cain and 10 generations of Seth, a lot of the names leading up to Noah are repeated. So, we thought, 'Hmm, maybe we just ignore that and say Noah is a descendent of Cain, the original murderer.' And then we said, 'No, let's honor what the text says and make Noah a descendent of Seth, and that there was a split and that Adam had three sons Cain, Able and Seth.' And it worked out well because it allowed us to have Cain's line and the descendent of Cain and the idea that Seth's line was the priesthood that was there to defend creation. Most people forget about Seth and that Noah is a descendent of that line.
You find really interesting ideas in rabbinic texts. There’s the word sohar [in Genesis 6:16], which rabbinic scholars have thought about for a long time. Some said it refers to a window; others have talked about this magic stone that glowed brighter during the day and darker at night. So we decided to follow the magical stone idea, because it kind of fit into this idea that the antediluvian world was somehow different from today. It helped us build this fantastic world that was so close to creation. It was a different time from now.
The Book of Enoch and The Book of Jubilees that talk about these guys; there’s a tradition that gets tied to the fallen angels and Satan, angels with hubris fell and they had anger with mankind. We thought it was far more interesting to think about angels that loved mankind. And we thought, let’s not think about that physically or sexually. Let’s think about that emotionally. What if you’re an angel and you see mankind born and you love mankind? And then you see the original sin and man is kicked out of the garden, expelled from the garden and they have to toil the soil. And all of a sudden we go from a lovely place to a really hard place. And you love them and God’s punished them. What if you felt pity for them and came to earth to help? So that’s the place where we started from. That’s the kind of love we talked about.
There’s a big theme in the film about mercy and justice and the balance. That allowed us to have a character, which is the Nephilim, who maybe had an excess of mercy. Where God was judging, the angels were being merciful. So the angels move from a place of mercy to a place of justice, the same way that Noah and God in the story move from a place a justice toward a place of mercy.
And yet there's still a ferocious originality to "Noah." Despite its assemblage of borrowed and stolen and re-imagined pieces, you have never seen anything quite like it. It's a disaster movie with environmentalist overtones and CGI rock-beasts and animals and apocalyptic events, and musings on the primal roles of the father and the mother, and the parents' desire to control their uncontrollable children, and all of this is periodically interrupted by flash-cuts of the serpent in the garden, and a glowing hand picking forbidden fruit, and Cain bashing Abel's brains in silhouette. Aronofsky's "cubits" are actual cubes: the finished Ark is comprised of blocks, and when it bobs on brackish waves it looks like a giant wooden Lego brick.
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