I started out to write a blog entry chronicling the reviews that are starting to come in for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, and had already linked to one particular review and pulled out some good quotes, when I came to the review from The Hollywood Reporter, and everything I was doing came to a grinding halt. In the (mostly positive) review, film critic Todd McCarthy says:
If anything, the animals get short shrift here. Noah never has to go out and gather them; hundreds of them just show up, as if they’d experienced the same vision as Noah’s (ed: read Thimblerig’s Ark!), push aboard the waiting ark and promptly go to sleep, not to reawaken or be seen again until the voyage is done. This not only comes off as something of a cheat — after all, it’s always interesting and fun to examine the occupants of the world’s first and most famous temporary zoo (ed: read Thimblerig’s Ark!), especially given some of the fanciful and/or extinct critters the filmmakers ever-so-briefly put on show here — but it’s also a convenient way to avoid the dilemma of explaining how the animals got along so well for the duration without eating each other (ed: read Thimblerig’s Ark!).
***Note that the parts in parenthesis and the italics for emphasis were obviously added by the author of this blog.***
I want to focus on the three highlighted statements:
1) The animals in Aronofsky’s film just show up as if they’d had Noah’s vision. We’ve known since the trailers started rolling out that Noah receives his knowledge of the impending flood by way of a vision from God. In Thimblerig’s Ark, the groundhog Thimblerig has similar visions, but it’s not surprising that both stories would share this idea. Dreams and visions are a common enough trope in stories as a way for the divine to communicate with the worldly. It’s just very interesting that Mr. McCarthy picked up on it with reference to the animals, and mentioned it in his review. (Read Thimblerig’s Ark!)
2) Mr. McCarthy says that it’s always interesting to look at the animals in “the world’s first and most famous temporary zoo”. I read that statement and felt rather giddy, because that is exactly what Thimblerig’s Ark does! The story doesn’t bother so much about what they are (green alligators, long-necked geese) as much as in who they were. They are fully-realized characters who struggle with their situation as much as any human character would. (Read Thimblerig’s Ark!)
3) In the review, Mr. McCarthy says that Aronofsky has the animals show up and promptly fall asleep, side-stepping any attempt to explain how the animals got along in the ark during the voyage. Thimblerig’s Ark asks this same question, and not only doesn’t side-step it, but jumps straight in feet first and answers both the why and how of it. (…you know what I’m going to say…)
This excites me, because I’ve thought for a long time now that my novel could be a quietly good supporting novel to this huge epic film, and this review confirms it (I wonder if Mr. Aronofsky would be interested in writing a forward? Maybe I should send him a request). And I hope that if you have actually cared enough about this subject to read this far down, that you will help in my grass roots efforts to get the word out. Here are two big ways you can help:
1) Download Thimblerig’s Ark from Amazon! This may be the obvious one, but it needs to be mentioned. Download it, and then read the book, and then go and make a review on Amazon.
2) Share the download link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, wherever you like to lurk. Encourage them to run, not walk, and download the book!
Thanks to anyone who will do this! I sincerely hope that you enjoy the story, and that it increases your enjoyment of the film (if you go see it), and helps deepen your thoughts on the story of Noah’s Ark in general.
2 thoughts on “Noah Review Asks: What About the Animals?”
I think Aronofsky was hoping all the atheists and Pope Francis would climb on board at the end.
(I’m not sure on which of your posts my comment is best placed, so here it is…) I haven’t taken the time to read the 360-whatever comments on filmmaking, so I have to ask, has anyone posted a comment with reference to David Maine’s book “The Preservationist?” His version of Noah and the family are not “Precious Moments” material either (from the very first scene and on.) Reading it helped me understand that there is SO MUCH MORE to each story we read in the Bible, that a huge space is left for creative thinking about what isn’t there. One of my pastors used to teach us to “read the white spaces” in our Bibles. But I think he was more interested in provoking us to think about logical implications than missing story elements. Perhaps the two concepts aren’s so far apart. But back to Maine’s book, I recommend it for those who would like another take on the story of Noah. I haven’t seen the film so I cannot compare.