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Dressing Noah
To deepen the vitality of "Noah," Darren Aronofsky worked with costume designer Michael Wilkinson, an Academy Award nominee this year for "American Hustle," to create a fresh but atmospheric look for the film's Old Testament-era wardrobe. "There were lots of great discussions about the costumes," recalls Wilkinson. "We looked at what is known of ancient cultures, but we also looked at modern, high-tech outdoor gear - and when you put all of these influences together, it results in something unique."

Given the film's richly textural feel, Wilkinson and his team took great pains to find the right fabrics. "We explored traditional plant-based fibers and home-woven textiles - but we also worked with some amazing textile artists to kind of create new fabrics," he explains.

For Noah, Wilkinson wanted a look that changes as he goes from a vibrant, longhaired young father, to the streamlined silhouette and shaved head befitting a man on a mission. Later, Noah wears heavier clothes to shield him from the clammy air inside the Ark -- and as his burden takes its toll, he becomes increasingly disheveled. "His costumes are really quite thread-bare at that stage, his hair's all grown out," Wilkinson describes.

Unlike Noah, Tubal-cain wears an elaborate costume of leather and metallic armor, a weapon always within reach. "He's the fierce, intimidating warrior, so he has a long cape and all of his armor and fabrics are very foreign to Noah and his family," says Wilkinson.

Winstone spent hours in the make-up chair each day with Adrien Morot, who gave Tubal-cain his battle scars and train of hair that reaches almost to the ground. Adding to Tubal-cain's fearsome look is a shock of bright yellow at the end of his long locks. "It's a sulfurous color which reflects the tzohar, the fuel that they use for fire," explains Wilkinson.

While Noah and his family wear earth tones, Wilkinson added touches of aubergine and finer textures to Naameh's wardrobe, echoing the description of a virtuous wife in purple in Proverbs 31. "For Naameh, we used China silks fused onto stretch fabrics, then sanded away and cracked to give a beautiful organic texture," he explains.

The costume challenges went far beyond the main cast. "We had about 400 extras to think about, and we had to create each of their costumes pretty much from scratch," says Wilkinson. "Some of it was done in New York, and some of it was done in Morocco, where for example we had 400 pairs of shoes and boots made for us, weaving together many interesting textures and fabrics. So it was a huge event."

The words "huge event" could summarize the entire production, but there were also sudden moments of simple, life-affirming grace that underlined the meaning of it all. Singer/songwriter Patti Smith, who contributes the film's lullaby, recalls one extraordinary day when she was visiting the set in Iceland for inspiration. It came suddenly and startlingly.

"I was standing there at base camp, and it was raining for a little while, and then the sun came out, and I thought, 'oh wouldn't it be something if there was a real rainbow,'" she says, musing on the rainbow that appears in Genesis, symbolizing the unbreakable covenant between Noah and God. "And suddenly, as I was standing there, there did come a rainbow. Then I felt someone tap me on the shoulder, and I turned around and it was Russell Crowe - and I thought this is a beautiful sign that this is going to be a powerful film."


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