According to Genesis God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.”
Noah, a righteous man, was commanded to build an ark and stock it with “two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.”
For forty days and forty nights Noah, his family and precious cargo withstood a flood so severe it submerged the tops of mountains until “every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out.”
Once the flooding stopped and the Earth dried, God commanded Noah to come out of the ark and release the animals, “so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”
The story of Noah’s Ark and the flood is one of mankind’s most famous tales and Hollywood has retold it a number of times.
This weekend Russell Crowe plays the title role in Noah, co-starring with Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson. Director Darren Aronofsky says he has been obsessed with the story since he was thirteen, calling it “the first apocalypse story.” Nonetheless, he has added his own spin to the tale.
“When we first started working on the project, we were very clear not to have sandals and robes and long white beards,” he told Rolling Stone. “The first thing I said to Russell Crowe was, ‘I’ll never shoot you on a houseboat with two giraffes standing behind you.’”
More traditional are two Disney short films. Father Noah’s Ark is a 1933 “Silly Symphony” for children that tells the narrative in song. Lively animation shows how the animals may have helped build the ship and why skunks almost didn’t make it on board.
In 1959 Disney released the twenty-minute Noah’s Ark, their first stop motion animated film. A jazzy score accompanies equally jazzy animation as pencils, pipe cleaners and other household items are inventively used to create the animals.
Shooting the flood scene in the 1928 version of Noah’s Ark endangered the life of a future Hollywood icon. John Wayne was a swimmer in the famous scene, and emerged unhurt, but other weren’t so lucky. Three extras drowned and a dozen others suffered broken limbs.
Finally, a 1977 documentary claims to shed some light on the real story. In Search of Noah’s Ark is an investigation into the speculation that Turkey’s Mt. Ararat in is the landing place of Noah’s Ark. “This may be the most incredible film you will ever see,” says narrator Brad Crandall, “but the facts that will be presented are true.”