After dropping out of the running for the new Wolverine movie, Darren Aronofsky wants to make Noah, an edgy retelling of the Bible story. This isn’t the first time that Aronofsky has stepped back in the past: His 2006 film The Fountain, a meditation on faith and reincarnation, spends some time in the 16th century. And the star that Aronofsky wants has even played Jesus Christ at one point in his career: Christian Bale.
The thing is, Noah’s just not as sexy as the other Biblical guys, mostly because he’s gotten the short stick where it comes to film portrayals. You’ll always remember Charlton Heston bellowing, “Let my people go!” over the Red Sea as Moses in The Ten Commandments. But there’s not really an analog for Noah, who had to build a massive ark in preparation for a flood that no one believed would come. Drawing on Heston’s Moses and other successful Biblical characters, plus some moviemaking tropes, here are some tips for Bale and Aronofsky to make sure their $130 million juggernaut doesn’t sink like a stone.
Make it a drama. The Bible is meant to be epic, and humor just dilutes the impact of the stories. To wit, the only adaptations of the ark story that I’ve seen in pop culture are two bad comedies: Noah starring Tony Danza, and Evan Almighty with Steve Carell reprising his role from Bruce Almighty and stepping into Noah’s shoes. Both movies are also set in the present-day, which is a big no-no.
Emphasize the “punishment” aspect. The Old Testament is all about God being an unfeeling bastard who delights in pushing his followers to their psychological brinks in the form of tests (see Job), or who gets impatient and wipes them all out. God decides to bring on the great flood because of how debaucherous and violent humanity has become since the whole Garden of Eden incident; he spares Noah and his family ’cause they’re the good ones.