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
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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