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Noah At The Movies
The entire story of Noah and the Ark he is commanded to build before the earth is flooded takes up just a few pages in the Book of Genesis. But those few passages have had a profound, lasting impact on billions across the globe, evoking both the very depths of evil and the heights of faith and holding out the hope of redemption after catastrophe.

Nevertheless, since the beginning of film history, the majority of screen depictions of this foundational story have been send-ups, comedies or animated films -- echoing a pop culture in which the Ark is most often seen in the toy store. The story was first brought to motion pictures in 1928's "Noah's Ark," which merged a brief Hollywood re-creation of the biblical flood with a World War I drama. Since then, there have been Disney shorts, cartoons and several variations on a comic theme. Yet remarkably, the story of Noah has never before been attempted as a full-scale, visual epic that brings the pages of the Bible to life, nor has any filmmaker delved directly into its core motifs of what it is to be human.

"There are comedic versions, there are animated versions, and there was even a Broadway version with Danny Kaye that was a musical," says "Noah" director and co-writer, Darren Aronofsky. "Historically, the approach has always veered towards folklore, humor and children's stories. But if you look at the story's place in Genesis, there is so much more to it than just the animals going two-by-two. It's the story of ten generations of wickedness of man that eventually climaxes in God coming to a place where he wants to redo it all. For me, it was the very first end-of-the-world story."

It was also a story he felt could be finally be told viscerally through 21st Century filmmaking techniques, while respecting the indelible power of the biblical text. He says: "I didn't want to add further to the cliched preconceptions we already have from pop culture … I wanted this Noah to feel fresh, immediate and real."

Aronofsky's engagement with Noah's themes began at the age of 13, when he wrote a prize-winning school poem about Noah. Later, as he began his filmmaking career, he started to envision how this colossal story could live on the modern movie screen. He knew it would be the greatest challenge of his career, a hugely ambitious motion picture requiring both passion and extreme attention to detail. At the same time, he was deeply drawn to the personal side of the epic story, that of Noah's family - wanting to explore their very human fears and hopes, their conflicts and search for meaning amidst these extraordinary events.

"As the story of the first apocalypse, imagining how a family would survive that was extremely interesting to me," says the director.

That became the jumping off point for a writing process that would take Aronofsky and co-writer/executive producer Ari Handel deep into the unknown. Since the text of Genesis is brief, contains virtually no dialogue, and offers little to suggest Noah's internal feelings about the impending flood, they poured through a wide span of religious, historical and scholarly sources to better understand Noah's times and the significance of his actions. Though they did not aim for line-by-line adherence to scripture, they focused on dramatizing the authentic themes of the Noah story and exploring the questions posed by the biblical narrative.

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