I don’t think Genesis can be turned into a good movie

Darren Aronofsky wants to make an “edgy re-telling” of the Noah’s Ark story for $130 million. I don’t know why; if you ask me, it’s a stupid story, on the order of wanting to do a live-action big budget remake of the Flintstones…and nobody would be stupid enough and unimaginative enough to do that, would they?

It does have potential as a bitter, nasty story: tyrant god kills everyone and everything on the planet in a massive, brutal catastrophe, leaving one family to salvage the entire worldwide ecosystem with a wooden boat; despite that, the first thing this family does when the boat lands is a mass slaughter of representatives of every species to propitiate their evil deity. Then Noah gets drunk and curses his son and all of his progeny with eternal servitude.

So it could be written as a grim, bleak, apocalyptic tale, but I don’t see much of interest in it…largely because the spectre looming over it is the fact that it isn’t true, and not just in a fictional way, but because we know it couldn’t have happened.

Also, the Christians (or at least, apologists for Christianity) are already girding themselves to hate the movie. Don’t you know, the Ark story is supposed to be uplifting and cuddly-cute, with all those animals?

First of all, the story of Noah has been told on the big screen before, most notably in John Huston’s superb film The Bible: In the Beginning (1966), in which one of the central episodes tells the story of the Ark with Huston himself playing Noah. The Bible features an all-star cast of Ava Gardner, Peter O’Toole, George C. Scott, Richard Harris, and Stephen Boyd. Huston’s retelling of the Noah’s Ark story is stylish and insightful. A real warmth and joy pervades the scenes in which Noah runs around the ark caring for and soothing the animals during their long voyage. This kind of warmth and humanity is notably lacking in Aronofsky’s coldly neurotic films.

I only vaguely recall that movie; it came out when I was 9. I do remember that it was cheesy and boring. Here’s the trailer.

Yeesh. A disaster movie about the obliteration of life on Earth is supposed to be filled with “warmth and joy”? Only by ignoring the magnitude of the events that occur in it.

These reviewers are very distressed at the possibility of a dark movie about an imaginary cataclysm.

Can we not see these demons in the much-lauded ‘edginess’ of Aronofsky’s films? Films like Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan are replete with masochism and bodily mutilation. Aronofsky seems possessed by a Manichaean viewpoint that sees the world and the flesh as fallen and subject to mortification of a kind usually only seen in medieval art and literature. Demented, self-flagellating figures are the villains in movies and books like The Da Vinci Code – but in Aronofsky’s films, they’re actually the protagonists we’re supposed to identify with. The madness and self-mutilation in Aronofsky’s films takes the place of any serious exploration of character or story and has only one motivation: to transgress life with violent images that abuse the human body.

OK. I will mention one name and one movie. Mel Gibson. The Passion of the Christ.

Maybe it will be a perfect fit to Christianity after all.


  1. Brother Yam says

    After the earth has been submerged for 40 days and nights, what are the animals supposed to eat? I’m sure all the plant life would have been destroyed too Carnivores are all set, but the herbivores? What, waterlogged tree stumps? Ever see a flooded valley after a new dam?

    Anyway, exposing the horror of their psychopathic tyrant may just wake a few people up.

  2. Kevin Anthoney says

    Most of the movie will be crap, but the T. Rex vs Triceratops scene will be awesome.

  3. Mister Sleight of Hand says

    Well as a re-telling he doesn’t have to stick too closely to the bible version right? You know like, “based on a true story” movies and all that?

    So maybe Noah’s not commanded to build the ark and save the animals, maybe he becomes the hero who fights against a tyrant god doing its best to wipe out all life on Earth. Or something. Making god the villain would certainly be “edgy” by the standards of most Americans, right? Though how the sky fairy has ever been perceived as anything other than a villain, I have no idea.

    Admittedly that doesn’t seem like a route Aronofsky’s likely to go. And it would still be a pretty shitty movie.

    Now this I wouldn’t mind seeing made into a movie. I seem to remember it being a pretty good read, though it’s been over a decade since I read it.

  4. Brice Gilbert says

    “It’s the end of the world and it’s the second most famous ship after the Titanic. So I’m not sure why any studio won’t want to make it,” said Aronofsky. “I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it.”

    That’s pretty much what Aronofsky has said so far. Araonfsky is an atheist so we don’t have to worry about a religious interpretation. Who knows if he’ll see the story for what it is or sugar coat it. I kind of doubt he’ll make nothing less than a depressing film that simply uses the bible as a jumping off point.

  5. raven says

    The Big Boat event is a terrible story of genocide by the Invisible Sky Monster god.

    It was also a near total failure. Noah was supposed to save all the animals in the Boat. We now know that 99% of all life is extinct, including all the nonavian dinosaurs. A salvage operation with a 99% failure rate can’t be considered a success. This is despite heavy supernatural support with god poofing miracles whenever the plot bogged down.

    The genocide was supposed to fix the human species. God created them in his image and they promptly went off the rails and got kicked out of the garden.

    It didn’t work. We are still the same old humans were always were. His plan C was to send himself down to earth to get killed. That didn’t work either. Plan D is another genocide, scheduled Real Soon and 2,000 years late.

    The Invisible Sky Monster is not only monstrous, he is incompetent.

  6. raven says

    Like many, I was taught the Noah Big Boat genocide in Sunday School as a kid. It didn’t make much of an impression one way or another. A story about ancient tribalists in the middle east didn’t have much relevance to an American kid watching space ships launching on TV.

    I don’t know why the churches bothered. If you really read the story, it is a terrible story of an evil but inept Sky Monster inventing genocide.

    It is also of course, just mythology. It’s saving grace is that it never happened.

  7. says

    Here’s a version of the story that might work: Not wanted on the voyage” (Timothy Findley) – “Dr. Noah Noyes, diabolical conjurer and dictatorial leader of his helpless little boat-bound band, sure of his total superiority as man, husband, and father, imposing his view of the ways of God on his wife and family. The kind and generous Mrs. Noyes stands in direct contrast to her hard-hearted husband, and then there are the Noyes children: strongman Japeth, every inch his father’s son, with his delicate wife, Emma; and the sensitive Ham, every inch his mother’s, with his mysterious wife, Lucy (a.k.a. Lucifer, who, having escaped from Hell, has decided to align himself with mankind). Findley, a great lover of cats, also gives us the crotchety Mottyl, making his way through his ninth and final life.”

  8. Paul from VA says

    Noah’s Ark was also done in a short version for Fantasia 2000. WARNING: Music is Pomp and Circumstance, which if you played in too many times in band in high school may trigger psychotic impulses.

  9. cuttlefish says

    “…second most famous ship after the Titanic.”

    Do we get to watch Leo DiCaprio drown in this one, too? That might be worth something.

  10. lordshipmayhem says

    First, won’t they need Phil Collins’ permission to call it “Genesis”? And second, what ship are they going to get as a stand-in for the Ark? If they’re not really concerned with historical accuracy (which they’re not, as they’re filming the story of Genesis, for crissakes), then they could rent the Queen Mary. It’s got a reputation as a happy ship, and to boot, it’s built for transatlantic crossings in winter storms.

  11. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    Another vote for Not Wanted on the Voyage. It probably has the most accurate depiction of the evil and destructiveness of religion than any other novel I’ve read. Trigger warning: it also contains a very graphic and distressing rape scene, so beware.

  12. cowalker says

    Perhaps Noah will be portrayed as a schizophrenic who thinks God is telling him to build an ark, and he will be so charismatic that he’ll persuade a number of followers to abandon their farming and prepare for a world-wide flood. And there is a flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates that year that is greater in scope than the usual flooding. Most of the boats sink. Some manage to land, and the passengers make their way back to their homes. But Noah’s boat travels far down the rivers, landing on a shore already inhabited by another tribe, which promptly slaughters the entire family.

  13. scenario says

    I’ve always thought they should do a cartoon of the bible exactly as it is. Have open captioning so when they show one of god’s soldier putting a sword through a babies head the viewers can see that it was god’s word to kill the baby.

    Most people don’t read the bible but maybe if you’ve got it on a 30 or 40 disc set, people will watch it and see what they say they believe in.

  14. says

    A film about Genesis alone wouldn’t work. However, a Genesis / Call of Cthulhu crossover film would be fucking awesome!

    A few Daleks wouldn’t go amiss either.

  15. says

    Sounds like it could be a healthy contrast to things like Ham’s amusement park celebrating diluvial genocide, actually. He might drive home the psychotic mind of Yahweh, and have Noah and his family barely surviving God’s contempt for humanity, despite his being “favored.”

    It’s a story that has managed to survive for millenia, from well before the Bible, so it seems to have some draw for humans.

    I suspect that Bible apologists should be ready to hate it. The story is a horror, and likely they’ll have to invent all sorts of ad hoc nonsense to make the flood “work.” As long as the huge number of problems are “fixed” in a good non-Biblical manner, it might lay bare the absurdity of the whole thing.

    Glen Davidson

  16. Tabby Lavalamp says

    I’m for it if this movie is a straight up retelling of the story in the Wholly Babble – but it needs to be complete with images of children drowning to confront the religionists with just how horrific a tale it is and what kind of monster their imaginary overlord is in the parts of their book of fables that they gloss over or ignore completely.

  17. PeteJohn says

    I’m not sure this author has ever actually seen The Wrestler or Black Swan. They aren’t really about bodily mutilation for its own sake. They’re about people who are driven to do their rather extreme thing and are willing to sacrifice just about anything to do it. In the case of The Wrestler, it’s Ram’s body and his family. In the case of Black Swan, it’s Nina’s mind. Ram wasn’t gleefully breaking his own fingers (though there is one scene where he’s had it with working in a deli and goes to town on his own hand, which makes perfect sense in the context of the character). And to say there’s no character exploration in either is rather preposterous.

    Now The Passion of the Christ… that’s a movie about needless violence and body mutilation. It’s two-plus hours of people yelling in other languages, complete with a ten minute whipping scene, an arm being torn out of socket, and a whole boatload of blood. After about an hour of constant bloodflow, one kind of looks at the screen and goes “Ok Mel, we get it. The Romans beat Jesus to a pulp.” Left unmentioned is the fact that Jesus, as the son of God (or is it God himself? Depends who you ask), was resurrected three days later and spent all eternity in heaven. So what was even sacrificed? Certainly not his life. And why was the sacrifice necessary? Because God (or Jesus himself?) gave Eve free will and got pissed off when she used it and went and got curious about a particular tree which God didn’t have to put there in the first place. But I digress…

  18. raven says

    Making biblically accurate films could catch on.

    The genocide of the Canaanites by the Jews could be one.

    Primitive nomads, who are the zombified slaves of a powerful extraterrestrial, invade an agricultural society.

    With occasional help from the ET, they slaughter everything living larger than a rat.

    Neighboring nations take note, bide their time, and build up their armies. A few centuries later, they invade, defeat the ET, and lead its slaves to freedom in Ninevah and Babylon.

  19. Phillip IV says

    Also, the Christians (or at least, apologists for Christianity) are already girding themselves to hate the movie.

    Not that that comes as much of a shock to anybody – Christian film reviewers tend to hate practically any film not produced in their designated Golden Age of 1942-1968.

  20. nemo the derv says

    Genesis could be a great movie.
    Lord of the Rings was good.
    Matrix(just the first one) was good.
    Avatar was good.
    As long as it’s treated for what it is, fiction, it could be great.
    Personally, I see a great opportunity for comedy.

  21. GeorgeA says

    Mel’s Epic Snuff

    The Smashin’ of the Christ
    The Thrashin’ of the Christ
    The Bashin’ of the Christ
    The Mashin’ of the Christ
    The Gashin’ of the Christ
    The Lashin’ of the Christ
    The Cash-In of the Christ

    The Smashin’ Thrashin’ Bashin’ Mashin’ Gashin’ Lashin’ Cash-In of the Christ

  22. Thersites says

    As well as Not Wanted on Voyage, one of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Doolittle books features an account of the ark (by an ancient turtle, who never bothered to go on board) in which Noah is a drunken maniac and a young stowaway saves the day.

  23. says

    Mark Twain’s version might provide some drama:

    …an excited stranger arrived with some most alarming news. He said he had been camping among some mountains and valleys about six hundred miles away, and he had seen a wonderful thing there … a billowy black sea of strange animal life coming … sloths as big as an elephant, frogs as big as a cow, a megatherium and his harem huge beyond belief … saurians and saurians and saurians … these prodigious animals had heard about the Ark and were coming. Coming to get saved from the flood. And not coming in pairs; they were all coming … and would eat up everything there was, including the menagerie and the family. … Noah saw that he must get away before the monsters arrived … the Ark was only just sinking out of sight on the horizon when the monsters arrived, and added their lamentations to those of the multitude of weeping fathers and mothers and frightened little children who were clinging to the wave-washed rocks in the pouring rain and lifting imploring prayers to an All-Just and All-Forgiving and All-Pitying Being who had never answered a prayer since those crags were builded, grain by grain out of the sands, and would still not have answered one when the ages should have crumbled them to sand again.

  24. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    nemo the derv said:

    Genesis could be a great movie.
    Lord of the Rings was good.

    Well, the Lord of the Rings was based on a book written by a single author who bothered to write a more or less coherent story and who left the most boring parts to the countless appendices at the end. I’m not sure I can say the same thing about Genesis.

  25. Michael Dempsey says

    As far as I’m concerned, John Huston’s “The Bible…In The Beginning” is a magnificent epic, one of this director’s finest achievements.

    Among other things, it contains a fiercely eloquent portrayal of Abraham by George C. Scott.

    And the depiction of God ordering Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a purely arbitrary test of the prophet’s “faith” is second to none in its depiction of the divine cruelty hidden within this “inspirational” tale of the Christian deity and his relationship with the humans he supposedly created.

  26. Kirk says

    tyrant god kills everyone and everything on the planet in a massive, brutal catastrophe

    Wouldn’t most of the things that live in the water come out of this mostly ok?

    It just seems to me that the whole flood thing has a decidedly “things-that-live-in-the-water-don’t-count” point of view.

  27. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Wouldn’t most of the things that live in the water come out of this mostly ok?

    What kind of water is it? Fresh water aquatic life tend to die in salt water and vice versa.

  28. Tabby Lavalamp says

    Drowning everything and everyone in the world except for those living on the ark, that’s a particularly vicious and destructive fit of rage. One would think an equally murderous but much more subtle god would either be able to create a virus or bacteria that would kill all the people except those he granted immunity to, or just strike everyone but Noah and his family dead.
    The latter wouldn’t be cruel enough for Yahweh, but the former could cause the suffering sufficient to satiate him while not destroying everything else.

  29. Ing says

    I suspect the huge amounts of added water would dilute the O2 levels to a degree that fish would drown. Even with the additional gases dissolved in from the rain process, that is such an amount in such a small time that it would drop the levels of gases for flora and fauna alike to unsuitable quantities. Or am I missing something?

  30. drbunsen le savant fou says

    but it needs to be complete with images of children drowning to confront the religionists with just how horrific a tale

    Oh come on. That’s like porn to these fuckers. Did you not notice how much Mel’s snuff movie raked in?

  31. rob says

    i heard that the movie will entail Bruce Willis flying the first space shuttle full of a bunch of misfits up to heaven, where they will blow up god with a nuke before he can destroy the earth.

  32. stevarious says

    Does nobody remember this from back in 1999?

    It was an awful tv movie of Noah’s Ark that had John Voight of all people as Noah. I remember this big hullabaloo from the christians about how it ‘wasn’t biblical’ and from everyone else about how it was ‘absolutely terrible’.

    The only part I remember clearly was Noah getting drunk on the ark and howling and yelling like a crazy person, then they were attacked by a bunch of evil dudes from Sodom who had survived by making a raft of furniture and stuff but were starving, and the Noah family had to fight them off.

  33. GravityIsJustATheory says

    scenario says:

    I’ve always thought they should do a cartoon of the bible exactly as it is.

    There’s an accurate graphic novel of Genesis:

    As for films of Bible stories:

    I’ve been watching a few of the old Hollywood Biblical Epics recently, and was surprised by two things:

    Firstly, some of them are actually quite good films (well, The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston was; most of the others were pretty crap actually, Sodom and Gomorrah in particular).

    And secondly, even all those years ago when they were made, they still found the need to alter the story to make God seem less unreasonable (e.g. Pharaoh’s wife, rather than God hardening Pharaoh’s heart against the Israelites). And despite that, God still comes across as at best unfair and excessive, and at worst monsterous.

  34. Archibald the Fair Haired says

    Drowning everything and everyone in the world except for those living on the ark, that’s a particularly vicious and destructive fit of rage.

    God is a sadist who kills people just because he can.