Noah Review Asks: What About the Animals?

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:

Thimblerig's Arc_2

Thimblerig’s vision of a world-ending flood, the flood of Noah.

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.

News of the Ark

There’s quite a bit going on in the world of Noah’s Ark this morning, and I predict that there will be even more as the premiere of Aronofsky’s film approaches.  I thought I would try to make it a regular thing on the Thimblerigs’s Ark blog to collect the stories that I find the most interesting, and link them here.  Enjoy!

Russell Crowe Tweets the Pope

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.22.45 AM

When I saw this, I laughed, because I’ve been trying to get Russell Crowe or Darren Aronofsky to notice Thimblerig’s Ark for the past couple of months, to no avail.  And now, it seems he and Aronofsky are hoping the Pope will notice their film.  I wonder who the Pope tweets, asking for favors?

Here’s my response tweet to Mr. Crowe:

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.34.42 AM

I’m hoping that Mr. Crowe will be a believer in paying it forward, and will at least give the first three chapters of Thimblerig’s Ark a read.  Wouldn’t it be cool if he read it, liked it, and helped promote it?  And maybe the Pope would watch Noah, like it, and help promote it, too.

Free Noah’s Ark Game

Noah's Ark game pic

This game, made by the folks at PaperBigfoot, looks like it could be fun.  And it’s a free download for your mobile phone, so why not?

I’ll bet they wish they could get a RT from the Noah film guys, too.

New International Trailer for Noah

I have to admit, this trailer gets me more excited about the film.  I’m starting to see the structure of the film, and it does seem to show that Aronofsky intends to show humanity’s overall wickedness and not just his violence against the earth.  This should please the religious audience, and if the story is well told, it should also please the audience that isn’t interested in religion.

I had a similar goal with Thimblerig’s Ark, too.  To help with that, I told my beta readers to be on the lookout for the “Four P’s”.

Four PsThat’s all that I saw in the news this morning about Noah and the flood.  I’m glad to NOT report on the ongoing stories where people are deciding not to see Aronofsky’s film because of what it may or may not contain, when most people haven’t seen it to know what it contains.

And remember, watch out for groundhogs playing con games!  They’ll grift you every time.

cropped-color-thimblerig.jpg

Requiem for a Bible Epic?

I’ve been watching the development of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah for quite a while (not a surprise to anyone who follows this blog) and it’s been an interesting ride.  The first thing I remember hearing – way back in 2008 in this Slashfilm article – was that the movie was being made to promote a pro-environmentalist agenda.   In that article, Aronosky was cited as saying,

I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it.

darren_aronofsky_02At the time, this revelation really bothered me.  Not because I’m opposed to saving the environment, but I’m not happy with changing source material in such a radical way.  While it’s a noble idea to try and draw the attention of the modern audience to the important issue of environmental awareness, the story of Noah from the Old Testament has absolutely nothing to do with humanity’s lack of being green.  Genesis 6:5 says that the reason God sent the flood was:

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

Certainly one could make the argument that God could have been grieved  because of humanity’s evil treatment of the environment, but you have to read a LOT into the text to make that implication, especially if that is the thesis of your film.  The text makes it clear that it was humanity’s immorality – their evil treatment of each other – that ticked off God enough that he wanted to clean house and start over.  Genesis 6 goes on to say that one of the redeeming qualities of Noah was that he was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God”.

It’s pretty clear that the issue in Genesis was fundamentally a religious issue, that Noah was juxtaposed against the rest of the people, and they were found severely wanting.  But check out what Aronofsky said in the aforementioned article:

I don’t think it’s a very religious story… I think it’s a great fable that’s part of so many different religions and spiritual practices. I just think it’s a great story that’s never been on film.

Not a very religious story?  Seriously?  As it was said in the comments on Slashfilm at that time,

Why not take out the issues of racism from “To Kill a Mockingbird”?  Or, we could focus the next film adaptation of “Lord of the Rings” on the disenfranchisement of the orc population!  Bottom line?  The story of Noah’s Ark without the religious component is NOT the story of Noah’s Ark.

I think this is the heart of the matter, the thinking that has so many people predicting that the movie will flop with religious audiences.

And it is precisely where I am hoping that Aronofsky will surprise us.

Coming in March 2014

Coming in March 2014

As a Christian movie lover, I’ll be fine if part of the problem in the film is that humanity has despoiled the earth and is being punished for it.  But if he avoids showing that humanity was also just plain wicked, that the majority of the people were not walking with God, it will be a huge opportunity lost.

And so for the past few days there has been a lot of noise, starting with Variety’s recently published story that had this rather misleading headline:

Survey: Faith-Driven Consumers Dissatisfied with ‘Noah,’ Hollywood Religious Pics

How can “faith-driven consumers” be dissatisfied with Noah, when they haven’t actually seen the film?  My guess is that very few people are following the story as closely as I have been following it, and their opinion on the upcoming film is only based on the fact that it’s being produced by a big Hollywood studio, and stars big Hollywood stars with Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins.  But Faith Driven Consumers, the group behind getting Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty reinstated, did a survey which found that 98% of “faith-driven consumers” weren’t interested in a Bible movie where the core message of the Bible story is replaced by a Hollywood message.

It’s a fair question, and one that the suits behind the film should be paying attention to, because ultimately it will be the thing that ensures that their 168 million dollar take on Noah is a hit or a flop.  This is what the noise has been about these past few days, with many websites asking the same question in a slightly different way.  Will religious audiences turn out for Aronofsky’s Bible-based epic?

Further Controversy for Noah

Will Christian Moviegoers Float ‘Noah’s’ Boat?

Wary of Hollywood’s “Noah”, Christians Back “Son of God” Instead

Director Claims He’s Following the Bible 

Noah Movie Test Screenings Reveal Christian Audiences Upset With ‘Darkness’ of Russell Crowe’s Character

But again, and what I return to is this: we don’t know.  We don’t know what Aronofsky is going to do with this story, and we won’t know until the film has been released, and so folks who are unsettled about this should just settle down.  Personally, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I want the movie to be a huge hit. I want to want to take people to see the movie – whether they’re religious or not.

The bottom line?  I am a “faith driven consumer”, and I want to give Noah a chance.

The New “Noah” Film International Posters Are Here!

As you can see, this is not one of the new international posters for the Noah film (although it should be), but I’m fully expecting a groundhog to play a prominent role in Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming film.  Groundhogs are amazing, after all!

I’m not holding my breath, however, as it seems that Aronofsky is going to be focusing more on the human aspect of the story from Genesis.   For those wondering more about the animal’s story there is always Thimblerig’s Ark, in which a con-artist groundhog named Thimblerig takes the lead role.  There is also a sage-like kangaroo, a couple of gazelles who have trouble admitting that they’ve got a thing for each other, an obnoxious duck everyone wants to strangle, a wild dog you would not want to meet in a dark alley, and a mysterious unicorn that keeps popping up in Thimblerig’s dreams.

final-composite-2nd-pass.jpg

The problem is that Thimblerig’s Ark is still seeking literary representation, but nobody seems to know what to do with an upper middle grade novel about a bunch of talking animals based on a story out of the Bible.  But this is an adventure story with heart, inspired by an Irish pub song that explains why the unicorns never made it onto the ark, as well as the writings of C.S. Lewis, Richard Lewis, and George Orwell.

So, if you happen to be – or know –  a literary agent willing to take a chance, Thimblerig’s Ark might just be the project for you.  And I would bet that Darren Aronofsky, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson and Sir Anthony Hopkins would agree with me that the subject matter is well worth your time.

Noah opens on March 28, so plan to be there opening night!  And does anyone know if Noah will make it to China?  I’d love to see it on the big screen.

Kudos to Aronofsky and his crew on what looks to be a fantastic cinematic experience!


And by the way – if the folks who made the original Noah posters happen to see this, please consider it an homage to your work.  You folks are doing an awesome job!

“Noah” the movie… coming March 2014

Noah is huge, and Thimblerig’s Ark is tiny.

Noah will be advertised on the Superbowl, and this author will be watching the Superbowl.

Noah‘s focused on Noah and his family, and Thimblerig’s Ark is focused on the animals.

Noah is a major motion picture and Thimblerig’s Ark is a wannabe unpublished book.

Even with these enormous differences, I still feel a kinship to what Darren Aronofsky, Russell Crowe, and company are trying to accomplish with their film.  I’ve imagined the scenes in Thimblerig’s Ark as scenes in a movie so many times, I can’t wait to see what  Aronofsky and Matthew Libatique will put on the screen.  I have a feeling some will be similar.

So, even if I’ll probably never make enough noise to get a shoutout from any of the Noah cast or crew, I’ll still do my part to promote what they’re doing.

Come March 8, make sure to go see Noah in full IMAX 3-D!

And if you’re a literary agent or a publisher looking for a new take on the story of Noah’s Ark, let me know.   I may have just what you’re looking for.