Russell Crowe: the Noah story 'predates religion... it's more of a shared human experience'
The A-list actor shares his opinion on the historical accuracy of Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic
Biblical blockbuster Noah made its UK debut at a handful of ‘fan screenings’ on Saturday, with star Russell Crowe making a personal appearance. The film, directed by Black Swan helmer Darren Aronofsky, is an adaptation of the story of the great flood, as told in the book of Genesis. While key elements of the original story are widely known – the animals boarding the ark two-by-two; the dove bearing an olive branch; the rainbow that greets Noah after the rain – Aronofsky has crafted a much darker tale. The world which Noah inhabits is a vicious, kill-or-be-killed environment ruled by the sinful descendents of Cain, led by Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone). Noah witnesses scenes of destruction and depravity that, arguably, go some way to justifying the ‘cleansing’ of the world in the coming flood, but the audience is constantly reminded that such an event necessitates the deaths of most of the world’s population – something of a divinely-mandated genocide.
The film has experienced backlash from some religious quarters which accuse Aronofsky of taking liberties with the plot. Aronofsky answered those accusations when he appeared on satirical news show The Colbert Report last week: ‘What is a liberty? When you cast Russell Crowe, it’s a liberty. The spirit of the story is told... For me it’s not just a biblical story, it’s a mythical story, and it becomes so much more powerful when you accept it as myth.’ We got the chance to ask Crowe about his perspective: whether he sees Noah as a historical or mythical figure.
‘The way I look at it is, when I started researching, something I hadn’t quite realised is that Noah is mentioned in every major religious text,’ said Crowe. ‘At that point, to me, it’s not about religion – it predates religion – and becomes more of a shared human experience. Our geology will talk to us about a flood mythology, archaeology will talk to us about a flood mythology, so I lean towards a historical point. Now whether it is 10,000 years ago as stated in the Christian bible, or whether it’s 100,000 years ago, or a million years ago, I don’t really know, and that’s one of the great things I think Darren does in this movie – he obviously has an on-point message in terms of a biblical story, but on the other side of it, he leaves quite a large gap for Darwinian theories of evolution.’
Regardless of whether the character is best thought of it biblical, mythical or historical terms, Noah looks set to sail off into the sunset regardless, reportedly earning $44 million on it’s Stateside opening weekend.