The Archbishop of Canterbury has had himself photographed with Russell Crowe, after attending the screening of Noah in which Russell C has the title role. ‘A great visit…impressive,’ he tweeted of Crowe. Which was one way round saying that the film itself was tripe, though his spokesman said that he found it ‘interesting and thought-provoking’, which is presumably an Anglican way of saying ‘rubbish’.
The Archbish may have been completely thrown, in fact, by Darren Aronofsky’s entirely personal take on the flood story in Genesis. In the Bible, God destroys the earth and the animals with a deluge that undoes his own work of creation, and then remakes it all over again courtesy of Noah, his offspring and the inmates of the Ark (the fish are all fine, obviously).
In this version, Russell Crowe-as-Noah goes one better than God and decides that humanity doesn’t deserve to survive, so he’s not entirely thrilled when Emma Watson – Mrs Shem – gives every sign of thwarting him. In fact, his evil plan for annihilating the human race is only reversed courtesy of the intervention of Jennifer Connelly who, as Mrs Noah, I would cheerfully have drowned myself. In other words, the patriarch gets it all wrong; the wife gets it more-or-less right. I think, then, we’d be right in saying that this is a feminist as well as environmentalist take on the Old Testament. What men do, women undo and you know, things are all the better for it. I knew, somehow, we’d end up with a female-friendly take on Genesis; what I didn’t bargain for was just how weird it would turn out to be.
PS: I don’t want to spoil it for you, but half the fun of the Ark story is imagining just what a business it must have been feeding and watering the animals; in Noah, they fall asleep for the entire duration, which seems cheating.
PPS: It’s difficult to know how to put this without a spoiler alert, but I think we all understood that in the post-Diluvian world, the offspring of Noah would end up marrying their cousins. In this version they’ll end up marrying their nieces. Which is somehow far more yucky.