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Friday, 25 April 2014

This ‘Noah’ Doesn’t Float My Boat!

The biblical story of Noah is supposed to be about the stuff of  life. But Darren Aronofsky’s film version will be forever cast as the ‘die’ in ‘dire’.

Every time I see a turkey like this, I moan about a wicked waste of time, effort, money and talent. But here, even The Observer’s Mark Kermode has described Paramount’s ridiculous budget  “as the strangest $125M ever spent by a major studio”.

Meanwhile, back in downtown Nahariya, Israel and 138 minutes, much house-light counting and wrist-watch-peeking later, I remembered that the project had marinated in Aronofsky’s  mental stew pot since his barmitzvah.

This is the problem. The guy probably best known for Black Swan nurtured the damned thing for so long - 32 years - that it became an act of supreme  narcissism. So instead of  simply re-telling the magnificent biblical tale with the aid of uber-slick cinematography, he melded the fables of the flood and  Creation, the expulsion from Eden and then the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. Pour the Christian concept of  original sin, Darwinian evolution and gothic fantasy into the increasingly silly mix and the average viewer is left with a load of incomprehensible, often inaudible tosh.

TEL.DAN.14Filming locations included Iceland and Mexico. But Aronofsky could – indeed – should have gone to Turkey for a Mount Ararat climax and visited Israel for the Creation scenes where Tel Dan,  part nature reserve and part biblical archaeological site  is often referred to as ‘the Garden of Eden’ because of its rushing streams, verdant  byways and  lush and peaceful setting. Moreover, it even boasts an over-sized pistachio tree which would have made a great model for the ‘tree of life’. But who am I to judge? I only live here!

* And while I’m in high rant mode, I want to complain  about the increasing penchant for naturalism at the expense of audience comfort throughout the cinema and television industries. This often leads to very low level lighting and softly-spoken dialogue that is heard – if at all – as barely more than mumbling.

Matters have now reached such a pitch that the past week’s BBC TV drama series Jamaica Inn lost 25 per cent of its original viewers because of the poor sound quality and about 1,400 complaints were received.

But this is nothing new. It’s a problem that’s grown ever more acute for at least ten years, and has now infiltrated commercial cinema where the general rule was once over, not under-amplification.

As a writer I empathise with a desire for artistic integrity but when catering for a  mass audience with varying degrees of hearing and vision, commercial  considerations should take precedence. Writers and directors should produce work that pleases an audience not those running BAFTA and Oscar award nights.

Thus have I spake. Loud and clear!

© Natalie Wood (25 April 2014)

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