It’s no secret that ‘Noah’ seemed to stir critics into a frenzy… but while Russell Crowe wasn’t fussed on their comments, it looks as though it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
The biblical epic is a lost art when it comes to film-making. Look back a few decades and cinemas were seemingly filled with tales plucked straight from the bible itself. But when it comes to making a thoroughly modern religious movie, you’re bound to come across critics. Especially when that movie takes enormous liberties with the source material.
Written and directed by Darren Aronofsy, ‘Noah’ takes the biblical epic we all know in a completely new direction… and that seems to be what’s inflamed some critics. The story itself was adapted to include stone golems and a ‘seed of Eden’ as a major plot point.
During a press event in Cardiff, I caught up with Russell Crowe himself to find out what he thought of all that premature criticism. And it seems he wasn’t too impressed.
“I think it’s completely irresponsible to put your name and your stamp and your opinion on something you haven’t seen and you don’t know about,” he told me. “However, now that people are seeing the film, that criticism is just going away – people are realising how intense the experience is and how respectful the movie is to the source material.”
Of course, the real proof is in the box office figures… and after receiving favourable reviews from many film critics, ‘Noah’ managed to make a very respectable $359.2 million. Although I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly impressed.
“[Aronofsky] had a very definite visual style in mind,” he explained. “He was able to sit down and show me forty pages of renderings of how everything would look. And to add to that, over a period of ten or fifteen years, I’ve been watching what he was doing with great interest – ‘Black Swan’ really blew me away. Although we missed each other with a few other projects he had in mind for me, it just felt like the right time.”
It may have been the right time to work with Aronofsky, but was it really the right film? ‘Noah’ was certainly met with plenty of controversy. But despite reports that Pope Francis had stood up Crowe and the film-makers during a private audience in Rome, it looks as though the modern pontiff wasn’t put off by all the noise.
“The thing I want to say about Pope Francis is that with all the controversy around, it would have been very easy for the Vatican to have rescinded that invitation… and they didn’t. He didn’t. He showed a very consistent kindness I think. The sort of tone that he’s been putting out in public, there he was actually enacting it. I’m not Catholic, I don’t have that background – I’ve never felt a connection to a Pope before but I really admire this man and what he’s been saying and the change in tone that he’s brought to the Catholic Church.”
But let’s put it this way – Crowe wouldn’t tell me what the pope actually thought of the film…
And even with the apparent support of Pope Francis, it looks as though Russell Crowe still had to think things over before he signed on for the job. After all, he already knew what he was getting himself into.
“It definitely took me a few days of contemplation to see whether I was up for what I knew would be a fair amount of criticism… the thing is, Darren was very well-prepared and very well-planned-out, you know.”
It may not have hit all the right notes, but ‘Noah’ is far from the flop that many predicted. And after a flood of criticism, it’s safe to say that Russell Crowe’s latest epic recovered well at the box office. Was it a good film? I’m not so sure… but it certainly hasn’t killed off Crowe’s career.
What did you think of Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’? Did it really deserve all that criticism? Let us know what you think in the comments below…