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Director Darren Aronofsky makes 'Noah' his own (w/video)

Old Testament fury has rarely come to such spectacularly fearsome life as in “Noah,” Darren Aronofsky's audacious adaptation of one of the Bible's best-known but still enigmatic chapters.

Be warned: Anyone familiar with the 500-year-old man and his ark may need to check some of their most cherished visualizations of him at the theater door. No cozy two-by-two images of beatific giraffes grace this “Noah.”

Like any good artist, Aronofsky has avoided predictable, literalist retellings of beloved Sunday school stories, inserting new characters, bringing parenthetical figures to the fore and making one of history's most enduring and universal myths his very own.

'Noah'

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The result is a movie that is clearly deeply respectful of its source material but also at times startlingly revisionist, a go-for-broke throwback to Hollywood biblical epics of yore that combines grandeur and grace, as well as a generous dollop of goofy overstatement.

Viewers may not agree about what they've seen when they come out of “Noah.” But there's no doubt that Aronofsky has made an ambitious, serious, even visionary motion picture, whose super-sized popcorn-movie vernacular may occasionally submerge the story's more reflective implications, but never drowns them entirely.

Appropriately enough, Aronofsky starts In The Beginning, and after a brief prologue revisiting Adam and Eve, original sin and the fatal rivalry between Cain and Abel, catches up with Noah as a boy who, by virtue of his lineage and an enchanted snakeskin bestowed on him by his father, is clearly destined for greater things. Conceived and staged like a conventional superhero origin story, “Noah” then finds the grown-up protagonist — played by a solemn, haunted-looking Russell Crowe — living in Canaan alongside his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), and their sons, Ham, Shem and eventually Japeth.

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