HONOLULU, April 2, 2014 – World history students know that legends of an ancient, world-ending flood can be found in dozens of cultures, but today that story has found a new medium with the big budget disaster film Noah. Released on March 28 in U.S. theaters, the movie starring Russell Crowe as the prophet Noah has provoked a firestorm among critics.
Noah, which leans more towards science fiction/high fantasy drama rather than the classic formula of Biblical opera like The Prince of Egypt or Ben Hur combines multiple diluvian legends and injects modern cultural anachronisms to produce a film that is as eccentric as it is controversial.
I asked Hawaii fashion model Clea Saldania-Rountree to watch Noah for her expert thoughts on the film and its story. Coincidentally in Honolulu, the release of Noah came amidst some three weeks of torrential rain and gloomy weather, making first time viewers especially sensitive to the movie’s plot.
Dr. Danny de Gracia: Clea, what did you think about the movie Noah?
Clea Saldania-Rountree: I thought it was different and very interesting. I liked that it was fast paced, it flowed, no dull moment, for a long movie it didn’t seem long. [It] did surprise and shock me. First, with the story of the rock formations – “the Watchers.” It’s hard to believe they actually existed. Second, how all those other people couldn’t be saved and only Noah’s family would survive. Third, I don’t recall an [enemy] being in the ark.
DDG: Did anything in the film really stand out to you or catch your interest? How did the movie make you feel?
CSR: I really enjoyed all the animals migrating to the ark. I thought it was interesting how they knew where to go. The movie made me feel sentimental and it peeked my curiosity to delve more into [the actual] story of Noah.
DDG: Is there anything you think that should have been in the movie but wasn’t?
CSR: Not really, to me the movie had more than expected. More than what I initially learned about Noah. It seemed too unreal and out of this world that some of the scenes that were depicted actually occurred.
DDG: It did get a little weird at times. When I watched the film, some of the strangest parts to me were, as you alluded, the rock creatures building the Ark which didn’t make sense, the snake skin wrapped around the arm imparting powers and strangest of all, as you also mentioned, Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) sneaking aboard the Ark. The design of the Watchers to me almost seemed like a lift out of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
At times the movie seemed to just be over the top ridiculous, but other times there were also some very inspirational scenes and quotable moments. Do you think that in watching movies, especially controversial ones like Noah, that it’s important for people to remember that entertainment and history are not always the same thing?
CSR: Exactly everything you mentioned I did find weird and I don’t think really happened. It was very confusing. There was some beautiful scenes and quotes. However, being that I’m in the movie business, I know storylines can be exaggerated for entertainment value and people are going to have to have an open mind and accept it and let it go. This movie was not a documentary and no one will ever really know what happened back then.
DDG: That aside, what did you think about the cast selection and the chemistry between the actors? How convincing for you was Russell Crowe as Noah?
CSR: Excellent job in casting, especially from child actors to adult actors. The chemistry was acted well between all. The acting [was] very good. I saw the movie with my mom, Gina Saldania who told me that Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly were paired up before in the academy award movie A Beautiful Mind. Russell Crowe was very convincing as Noah just by his acting and looks.
DDG: Would you ever consider starring in this kind of film?
CSR: Yes, I would. In fact, I have acted in a period piece before very similar to the setting and costume design like in the movie Noah. I played a village daughter in the movie Escape from Atlantis when I was 12 years old.
DDG: One of the interesting things about Noah as it pertains to our modern world is that oftentimes people who warn the world about potential disasters are often ignored or seen as “crazy” … until they actually happen!
For example, prior to Hurricane Katrina which flooded New Orleans, several experts warned that the city’s levees were not ready for a major hurricane and that the city could be overwhelmed by water, but they were ignored. Do you think one of the lessons is that people should learn to be humble and listen to warnings?
CSR: I hate to say it, but there are nut-heads out there. I go to my mother to ask if such warnings will occur. She seems to know things. In the last couple of decades, there have been those that said the world will end. She knew that wasn’t true. She can’t believe why people can’t think for themselves and not follow and listen to nut cases like the cult leader Jim Jones.
However, she did agree with experts that levees were not ready for hurricanes in New Orleans. She also worries about the ones in Venice, Italy. That city always has a potential of flooding. Both of these cities I have visited and fell in love with.
DDG: How do you think our modern day world would respond to a real-life Noah preparing for a major disaster?
CSR: I don’t think today’s society would take it well. He may have some believers. He probably could do what he wants if he’s not harming anyone and not do anything illegal and is able to build an ark of today on his own land with permits.