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Peter T. Chattaway


Flood Theology

Darren Aronofsky makes movies about obsessive people. To be the protagonist in an Aronofsky film is to be a mathematician who studies the stock market looking for hidden or even mystical patterns, or a middle-aged woman who takes drastic measures to lose weight because she thinks she will be on television soon, or a scientist who neglects his wife because he's trying to cure her terminal illness, or a wrestler or ballet dancer who would literally rather die than miss an opportunity to give the performance of a lifetime.

Aronofsky also makes movies that explicitly deal with religious themes and metaphors. Pi (1998), his extremely low-budget first feature film, touched on an aspect of Jewish mysticism which holds that there are numerical codes hidden inside the Torah. The Fountain (2006) revolved around a tree of life—maybe even the Tree of Life—and the belief that death is but a necessary step toward regeneration. And The Wrestler (2008) centers on a man known as "the Ram," whose sort-of girlfriend, a stripper, calls him a "sacrificial ram"; she even quotes the suffering-servant passage from Isaiah and applies it to the Ram and his wounds, saying she got the quote from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

So it's not at all surprising to find that Aronofsky has now focused his efforts on making an actual biblical epic, about Noah and the Ark. And it is also not surprising—or at least, it shouldn't be—that Aronofsky has put his personal stamp on the story by portraying Noah as someone who is so obsessed with the task that God has given him that he almost takes it too far, driving members of his family away from him in the process.

The film hits you from its opening frames with a bold mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. Jarring notes on the soundtrack accompany a series of title cards that list Adam's three sons[1] and describe how Cain killed Abel and was afterwards protected by a race of beings known as the Watchers, who enabled the descendants ...

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