Thursday, 24 December 2015

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS: A Review of Star Wars Episode VII



A friend of mine posted this in the comment section of an article on the new Star Wars film:

"I enjoyed it a lot, but I liked it better the first time I saw it, when it was called A New Hope."

Some people I've talked to love the parallels between the new film and Episode IV; others think it's a cheap way to make a film.

But which writer among us has NOT re-used a pre-existing plot to make a new story?

Shakespeare did it.

Milton did it.

How many versions of the Odyssey are there? I mean, come on.

I agree that there is a vast difference between stealing a story and claiming that you made it up from scratch and re-imagining a plot and making it your own. But Episode VII is definitely not guilty of plagiarism.

I'm in the camp that applauds J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt's self-aware use of pre-existing Star Wars themes and plot points to bring Star Wars to a new generation.


Let's consider a couple of similarities between IV and the original trilogy:

Father/ Son Problems - I love how the writing team re-imagined this conflict between generations in VII. Instead of Luke having to come to terms with his father's affinity with the dark side, losing a hand in the process, Han has to face his son, who has become corrupted. In one of the arguably best shot, and most theatrical, scenes of VII, Han and Kylo Ren meet: that hand on Kylo's face, that is drama at its best. So now we wonder, will this relationship still affect later plot points? Will Kylo Ren become more corrupted, or will he regret killing his father?

Hands - "Stop taking my hand!" Rey yells at Finn as they run through the scavenger market on Jakku. Peter Brinn has commented on this, saying it could be a tongue-in-cheek jab at George Lucas for all the hands that were cut off in the previous six films. Especially Episode III. Yikes. 



There should be a "No Hands Were Cut Off in this Film" stamp on Episode VII (well, unless you count C3P0's extant red arm). There are a couple of moments where a severed body part seems likely to happen, but J.J. and Co avoid this entirely. Hands instead are held out to others, and connection between people seems to be more of the theme behind hands in this film than loss.

The Droid That Is Carrying Something Important That the Bad Guys Want - BB8. How can you not love this quirky little ball of a robot? Obviously our R2D2-style comic relief/ loyal companion who bravely rolls through the desert and ends up with the film's young hero. BB8 approaches problems inventively and can think critically. He's a sentient robot with personality, and I love how this is just accepted. No philosophical quandary if robots have souls or not in this film. They're people too.



Is this plot point maybe a bit too close to the original film? Yes. Completely. But there's a great moment where BB8 finds R2D2, and it's clear from how BB8 looks up to R2, that the writers also are paying tribute to the original rebel robot.

And lastly:

Chewie Still Doesn't Get a Medal - Chewie is definitely the hero of this film. He's the one who weakens the big bad planet destroying weapon so that the rest of the team has a chance of blowing it up. He takes out like twenty stormtroopers, drawing fire so that Rey and Finn can escape (well, until Kylo Ren finds them). He single-handedly flies the Millennium Falcon (which, we see earlier in the film, is no walk in the park) to save Rey and injured Finn from the exploding planet weapon. And he still doesn't even get a medal. Not even a hug from Leia (thanks to Peter Brinn again for pointing that out). I'm excited though that he's going to be continuing his adventures with Rey, though really, why is he still second mate? He should be flying the Falcon. Anyway!


Are there parallels between Episode IV and Episode VII? Of course there are! That's the point! You've got a solid Star Wars storyline in A New Hope, so why not adapt it and riff of it for the new film? And, you have to admit: this is easily the best Star Wars film since Episode VI. Delightful new believable characters who can act. Breaking down the light/ dark binary between factions (Finn and Kylo Ren are both conflicted). Well-shot scenes in dynamic and interesting settings (unlike the boring scenes we had to sit through in Episodes I and II). Those classic wipe fades between scenes! As a writer myself, all these nuances, large and small, warm my heart.


So, there are my thoughts. What did you think of Episode VII?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Hardcover on the radio

An e-mail appeared in the midst of my crazy grad school day, and almost without thinking, excitement gripping me, I responded.

It was from the volunteer coordinator at CJAM 99.1 FM. Looking for people to host a program on creative writing and literature. Oh man! I thought. I've always had radio in the back of my mind. Someone once said I had a good radio voice, and ever since, I've thought, maybe, one day.

And that day has come! Peter is a wizard when it comes to radio production, so it only makes sense that we're working on our new program, Hardcover, together!

So far it's been new and fun and full of growth for me. We hosted our first interview, and are just waiting back to hear from the station.

If our demo's accepted, we'll be doing a weekly episode on CJAM, so if you're in the Windsor-Detroit area, or you want to tune in online, you should definitely check us out!


This also would mean that my zannova.in.ink blog will be taking a hiatus, as I'll be writing for the Hardcover blog page! About books and literature and similar things to what I've been writing about here!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Notes on H.D.

This semester, I'm GAing for Women's Modernist and Contemporary Poetry, which so far has been absolutely fascinating. Despite my long sojourn in the realm of literary studies (an undergrad in English, currently a grad student in the Creative Writing program) I have never taken a course focused on women's writing. This strikes me now as kind of odd: I myself am a woman with a desire to write fiction and poetry and engage in the world through words. There's a kind of stigma attached to women's studies, as if by taking such a class I would put myself in danger of becoming a radical feminist. Foolish, I know. Especially as Margaret Atwood, Madeline L'Engle, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickenson, Mieko Ouchi, and so many other women writers have so strongly influenced my life journey. They deserve to be celebrated and studied just as much as the male-heavy literary canon we tend to fixate on in the Western tradition.

This first week, we've been looking at H.D., also known as Hilda Doolittle, or H.D. Imagiste. The last name there was ascribed by Ezra Pound, who forwarded her poems to Poetry magazine in 1913, establishing H.D. as the foundational Imagist poet. Imagism was a short lived poetic movement which had three main "rules": that the "thing" described was to be dealt with directly in a clear and concise way, that no word was to be used unless it pertained directly to what the poem was describing, and that a dynamic musical rhythm was to be used instead of a metronomic pulse. Despite its limited time period as a movement, its effects on free verse (also known as vers libre at the time) have proven to be long lasting.


H.D. had a crazy life story. I won't write it all out, but you can read a more in-depth version on The Poetry Foundation's website. She was living as an expatriate in Europe when most of her work was published, and was highly active in the literary community, editing for magazines, writing poetry, novels, memoirs. Her interests included Classical Greek mythology and poetry, psychoanalysis, and the relationship between genders. H.D. became her preferred pen name, as it was androgynous and represented "pure spirit", without ascription of gender, background, or context. She became incensed when fellow poet Amy Lowell published a photo of her without permission. She had many lovers throughout her life, women and men, and her sexuality is often encoded in her poetry.


"Oread" is used most often to exemplify H.D.'s early style that became known as Imagism. The poem is one stanza and clearly presents a moment with a kind of natural force. The repetition of"whirl" and "pines" is evocative of a prayer or chant. The wildness of the scene is emphasized by the violent "whirl" and "hurl"; the poem settles at the end into tranquil pools of fir, a kind of fusion between the ocean and the forest. Susan Holbrook suggests that these two diametrically opposed forces of nature which often stand for male ("pointed pines") and female (the sea), morph into each other without dominance or submission. "Sea Rose", from her collection Sea Garden (1916), considers the beauty of a rose that has been through storms and seas. Her search is for a new kind of beauty, unconventional and wild, beauty formed through struggle and conflict.





"Violet
your grasp is frail
on the edge of the sand-hill,
but you catch the light -
frost, a star edges with is fire."

~from "Sea Violet"




Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Guest Post: Madison Grenley on The White Stripes

This month, I'm excited to post an article written by my good friend, Madison Grenley, one of the leading critics in the field of identity, metafiction, and gender performance. Recently challenged on the value of Meg White as a drummer, Grenley wrote a brief defense, incorporating her interest in authentic expression and the unity of form and content. Watch for the article in the forthcoming issue of NettleDrum Magazine. Enjoy!
...

Kicking Up Dead Leaves:
Authenticity and the Musical Contribution of The White Stripes

by Madison Grenley, B.A., M.A., Oxford Graduate, TA for Dr. Sisiphys M.D.


Published by the University of Windsor's Music Department
on the back of old sheet music because fuck the university
if you put money into your programs and faculty instead of new useless infastructure(sic)
this wouldn't happen
c. 2014
***
The White Stripes are a two piece band featuring Meg White on drums and Jack White on guitar, piano, and various other messed up instrument-hybrids that are cool as shit. Easily identifiable by simple and driving drum lines, raw vocals, and blues-inspired guitar riffs, the Stripes garnered national and international attention in the early 2000s, winning two  Grammy awards. Their weird framework narrative, where married couple Meg and Jack are cast as brother and sister, matched with their candyfied childhood swirl of red, white, and black, defined their image and added to their charismatic performance style and noteworthy musical talent.
Rolling Stone Magazine listed Jack White as #17 on their 2003 listing of greatest guitarists, above such rockers as Frank Zappa and Eddie Van Halen (Rolling Stone). Jack White’s influence during the early 2000s is reflected by his appearance alongside Jimmy Page and The Cliff, I mean The Edge, in the 2009 documentary "It Might Get Loud".  Throughout the film, White focuses on the "real" aspects of music: he has his son play an electric guitar by stepping on the strings, telling him to "[p]ick a fight with [the guitar] and win the fight" (“It Might Get Loud”). For White, the increasing amount of technology involved in the production of rock and pop in the 1980s and '90s was killing the creative spirit of the art form. He plays a song by blues singer Son House to illustrate the power of honest and raw music: "It didn't matter that he was clapping off time...the only thing that mattered was the attitude of the song." Authenticity isn't based on the veneer of sound production or even the capability of the musicians; the soul of a song, what it is expressing, is the most important aspect of any song, or any musician.
This brings us to the core of the White Stripes' sound: Meg White. “She's the sound,” claims Henry Gilles in a brief 2014 interview, Jack plays blues. He's not the [W]hite [S]tripes”.
Jack attributes the band's direction and stylistic choices to her "play[ing] like a little caveman, like a little child" ("It Might Get Loud").  Cultivating this aspect, Meg lays down a solid driving foundation for Jack's crazy vocal and instrumental antics; if Meg had strayed into drumming decadence, the whole structure holding the White Stripes together would have fallen apart. After all, they were "hailed for bringing a refreshing simplicity back to rock & roll" (Rolling Stone).
Ultimately, what the White Stripes bring to the rich and varied music scene of the past fifty years is a focus on an authentic and unprocessed sound that hearkens back to the anti-establishment blues of the 1920s and 1930s. Using their respective musical abilities, Meg and Jack White explore the "importance of rock's abrasive and experimental nature" combining simple heartbeat drumming and exploratory instrumental and vocal work (Rolling Stone).
Pawn to H4.

Works Cited
Gilles, Henry. Interview. Facebook, INC (fuck you, Facebook). 25 Sept 2014.
Rolling Stone Magazine. “WHITE STRIPES: Biography.” Ed. Jim Macnie. Web. 25 Sept 2014.
“It Might Get Loud.” Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. 2009.
Web. 25 Sept 2014.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Seasons

Here's an article that was printed in the Reborn Lantern this month! (you can access the full issue at http://inthesaltshaker.com/rebornlantern/volume7.pdf)

Seasons
by Brittni Ann Carey

Fall's a time of contemplation, the turning from the glory and freedom of summer to preparing for the oncoming cold, for watching leaves turn and spiral onto the sidewalk. Is there already frost in the air? Seasons. God has made everything beautiful in its own time.

There's a point in Ontario, made of sand. Soon, that point, the southern-most part of Canada's mainland won't be there anymore. The contrary currents around Point Pelee will wear it away.

In our culture of instant gratification, waiting seems like a waste of time. If something is worth having, why wait? Life is short. Opportunities pass. But can we slow down long enough to appreciate what we have in each season? Because in a blink, it's going to be gone.

As Christians, we're in a season of waiting. Waiting for God's kingdom, which is infiltrating this world, to come fully through and in Jesus. But we're not in a place of idle waiting. Jesus says "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

How does Jesus show his love? By reaching a hand out to the leper, by sitting with a woman at a well, by eating with tax collectors and 'sinners', by telling the crowds "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).

This life isn't meant to be a comfortable waiting room where we sit benignly until heaven appears: instead, God calls us to be co-participants in the kingdom, building a community of people who reach hands, share meals, sit with, and tell everyone with our lives and words that Jesus loves them.

The fact that seasons don't last - the summer, the landscape of our lives - it can be discouraging. Grass in a field, that's how transient, short, and fragile this life is. But the temporal things, those are beautiful because there's only a short time that we have to experience them before they're only a memory.

And even more beautiful is the thought that outlasting all these things, all these pains, and joys, and experiences, is God's love. A present and active force that forms our lives and gives us peace and purpose in the ever-changing landscape of time.

What season are you in?
Where is God pointing you?
Let our seasons be full of fruit and truth and the love of Jesus.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Andrew Verhoeckx: Transcending Tradition and the Search for a New Visual Language




Andrew Verhoeckx
In order for art to be more than the product of a cathartic exercise, an artist must consider the audience.  Be it in music, writing, painting, or any other art form, an artist must be familiar with the social context of their work.  There is a cultural nomenclature of signifiers, and when an artist chooses to incorporate a piece iconography into their work, they must consider how that symbol functions within the nomenclature of signs.  For artists who are Christian specifically, there is a temptation and desire to draw upon the iconography of their faith.  The inclusion of such iconography can serve to alienate audiences who do not prescribe to Christianity and lock the work into a closed reading.  The challenge for an artist who is Christian is to develop a personal iconography that reflects their beliefs, but also allows their art to engage in a dialogue with people from all walks of life.  Such was the challenge faced by Andrew Verhoeckx as a young painter.  Eventually, though, Verhoeckx managed to find what he calls a “visual language” that allowed him to express his faith in a manner that allowed people from all walks of life to engage with his work and find their own meaning in it.


A section of Touch of Gold.
Verhoeckx recalls that as “a young artist trying to find [his] voice or visual language, [he] went for what came naturally.”  This involved paintings with an iconography rooted firmly in his faith.  The result was “a lively debate in [an undergraduate] class regarding [his] work”.  Verhoeckx notes that “the straight forward visual language of Christian themes was too much” for some.  This was a frustrating process because other artists were able to express themselves by using overt signifiers and others did not take issue with this.  In a world not far removed from the Civil Rights era, and firmly rooted in a time where misogyny, homophobia and Islamaphobia impede social progress, members of marginalized groups often draw on overt iconography to make a political statement.  For Christians whose faith is associated with the dominant culture, an overt expression of faith is not read as a political statement, or simply an expression of one’s faith, but instead is often seen as an extension of the dominant culture and thereby read as an endorsement of oppression.  Such is the manner in which the contemporary nomenclature frames iconography related to the dominant culture.

Rear End
Verhoeckx has some guidance in this respect.  A professor spoke to him about the visual language Verhoeckx had been using.  The professor encouraged Verhoeckx to draw on his passions for cars to develop his visual language.  Verhoeckx, whose father had worked at the local Chrysler plant for almost his entire adult life, had developed a love of cars in his youth, a love that carried into his adulthood.  At the age of 12, Verhoeckx prayed for what many 12-year-old boys might pray for: a sports car.  By the time Verhoeckx was 17, his prayer had “miraculously arrived as a neglected, abused and rotting Plymouth” Barracuda.  God did not deliver a brand new sports car to Verhoeckx; Verhoeckx had bought a dilapidated wreck of a car that was over twenty years old.  It would take several years of reconditioning, but the car would eventually be restored.  This process was a spiritual one for Verhoeckx.  The restoration of the car mirrored Verhoeckx’s own spiritual restoration which he achieved through his faith.  His professor had encouraged Verhoeckx to dig deeper, and it was at this time that Verhoeckx chose to speak of his faith through his love of cars in a series of paintings he titled Street Spirit.

In The Middle
The beauty of the Street Spirit series is that it uses a visual language that speaks to a multiplicity of people.  The automotive industry has been associated with the working class since Henry Ford introduced his first assembly line, so for a person from the working class, the paintings serve as a representation of their life experience.  Likewise, automobiles are closely linked with Americana iconography.  The automobile has become synonymous with American culture, and so serves as a democratic signifier that gives an entry point into the paintings for many.  By placing overt Christian iconography to the side, and channeling his faith through an experience shared by many, Verhoeckx found a way to communicate his faith in a manner with did not alienate viewers and instead invited them to engage with his work.

Valley
For many, form is as important as content, and to communicate this vision, Verhoeckx chose to embrace Photorealism.  This choice in form would generate an issue akin to the one Verhoeckx faced due to his faith.  In an art world that had been under the tyrannical rule of realism for centuries, many Modern and Post-Modern artists had sought to shed the shackles of realism.  Expressionists like Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollack and Wassily Kandinsky had rejected realism and all forms of traditional iconography.  Artists who embraced realism or a more democratic visual language were viewed a kitsch, and so the likes of Norman Rockwell have been excluded from the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other galleries in favour of Modern and Post-Modern artists.  Photorealism, though, which embraces traditional methods, is the only style which can communicate the message Verhoeckx envisions.  In his Artist’s Statement, Verhoeckx expresses his admiration for the “way paint embraces the cast or forged steel” and how “oil can transform steel from cold and dead to lusciously wet, warm and soft as a living being”.  He notes that the “parallel between cars and humans is remarkable in the way they functionally mimic each other.”  The engine, for instance, can be seen as the heart of the car: “it breathes, pumps and brings out the personality of the car.”  It is this insight that Verhoeckx wants to share with the audience.  He wants them “to feel the wet cast steel, to feel the warmth of the engine, to feel the rumble of the exhaust against their body.”  Verhoeckx wants to “generate life in [his] paintings”.  When one looks at a painting like Valley or In The Middle, one can see how the cold steel is transformed by the oil into something organic; something living.  There is no other style of painting that could present this vision to the viewer as effectively as Photorealism.

Under the Clouds
For many artists, once they have found a niche, many work within the restrictions of that niche.  Pollack did this with his ‘drip paintings’, Rothko did this with his ‘multiforms’, and even within Photorealism painters often trap themselves within a certain style: Will Cotton paints portraits/desserts, Chuck Close works exclusively on portraits, Robert Bechtle and John Salt focus on cars, Don Eddy has painted a variety of store-window displays, Charles Bell paints toy displays, and Robert Cottingham paints outdoor signs.  Verhoeckx, though, has branched outside of his comfort zones and has found different methods to both express his faith, and demonstrate the skill required to create Photorealist paintings.  A series Verhoeckx has titled East of Eden features a painting titled Under The Clouds.  It is a painting that expresses his first experience with God.  Verhoeckx recalls that as a child he looked up into the clouds one day and saw God and that God “reached down that day and [Verhoeckx’s] heart… was filled with unbelievable love and peace which has never been matched since.”  Verhoeckx describes this experience, not as “a one way interaction but mutual exchange of spirit beings.”  The painting depicts a building surrounded by trees as it rests beneath a clear blue sky with a few white clouds high above.  For Verhoeckx, this is a piece of deeply personal Christian iconography that expresses the way in which God first manifest himself to Verhoeckx, but for a viewer who looks upon the painting, there is no overt theological message.  The iconography of the painting, the trees, the building, the clouds, all speaks to a symbiotic relationship between humanity and nature.  The building is surrounded by trees, and covered by clouds, and exists in peace and harmony with the natural world.  Perhaps this can be a metaphor for how people with different beliefs can co-exist.  The painting can simply be admired for its technical skill and natural beauty, or it can speak to how humanity interacts with the natural realm.  There is no overt message to take, and so Verhoeckx successfully finds a way to speak of his faith in a manner that defuses the social stigma related to it.

Dominae Saecllum
Dominae Sacellum functions in a similar fashion, but allows Verhoeckx to share his faith with another artist at the same time.  The painting is based on a photo Verhoeckx took of St. Patrick Cathedral in New York.  The building is itself a piece of art.  Its architect used his skill to express and build a monument to his faith.  Verhoeckx’s photo frames a small portion of the building that excluded any pieces of religious iconography.  The viewer, then, can simply admire the architecture of the building without having framing it as a strictly ‘Christian’ work.  For Verhoeckx, the painting can be seen as a homage to another piece of work that expresses faith, and one that speaks to interdenominational dialogue given that Verhoeckx doesn't identify as Catholic.  Two artists of different denominations are featured in the same work, but the end product is devoid of any overt pieces of Christian iconography, allowing Verhoeckx to engage in a conversation with the architect’s expression of faith and share that conversation without force-feeding his faith to the viewer and allowing them to define how they want to see the work on their own terms.


New World
The beauty of Verhoeckx’s work is how inclusive it is.  Verhoeckx draws on universal iconography that gives all viewers an entry point into his work and allows them to admire the craftsmanship of his technique.  This is especially present the works featured in East of Eden.  The painting New World, for instance presents an evening cityscape that features no less than three languages on the city’s electric billboards.  This co-mingling of cultures and language demonstrates the inclusive nature of Verhoeckx’s work.  Regardless of faith, language, ethnicity, gender/sex, perceived race, or any other form of classification, viewers can engage with Verhoeckx’s work through a neutral iconography and discover their own meaning while simultaneously bearing witness to the strength of Verhoeckx’s faith.  Just as John Coltrane found a way to express his faith on his album A Love Supreme without overtly employing manifest Christian iconography or signifiers, Verhoeckx finds a way to express his faith in a manner that is inclusive to all who might view his work.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Noah and interpretation (spoilers!)

Photo from http://pathmegazine.com
"Noah" is this year's Biblical blockbuster. One shows up every once in a while, presenting us with radical interpretations of the stories that those growing up in the church, and in the Christian-influenced West, think we know like the back of our hands. "The Passion of the Christ", for example. Remember the controversy surrounding that film? Despite attempts to incorporate historical context, including various languages, "The Passion" was criticized for its graphic violence, anti-Semitic undertones, and rushed resolution. It did, however, spark numerous discussions.

Noah is a similar kind of film; it may also be criticized for the graphic violence and the difficult relationship that is set up between Noah and God: for half the movie, one begins to wonder if Noah has actually become crazy, as he waits around with a knife to kill his grandchild because he believes it is God's will. SO MUCH PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA this family goes through. For the first time, Noah getting drunk in the post-flood world makes sense to me.

We could talk about how this is Biblical or how this is not Biblical and all that, but since that wasn't the intention of making this film, let's talk about creative interpretation instead. Every choice in this movie was one that made sense thematically within the film narrative. The rock angels act as a kind of parallel to humanity: a spirit in a earth-bound body that have "fallen"; the redemption of humanity is foreshadowed by their forgiveness and following communion with God once their earthly bodies are destroyed. The warlord who sneaks onto the ark is an embodiment of sin, showing that humanity still carries the terrible potential for evil with them. Like Noah says, his family is no different than anyone that dies in the flood.  Noah interprets this to mean that God wishes them all to die out, to leave the innocent animals free and safe in the new world. Methuselah, well, I'm on the fence about him: as a kind of mystic, he does act as a catalyst for the plot and perhaps manifests another part of God's will (a trickster?), but I was afraid he was going to eat everyone. Anyways. Back to interpretation.

Interpretation itself is key to this film on so many levels. The filmmakers are interpreting the Biblical narrative and creatively expanding on what the text only hints at. They engage with the difficult questions, the most difficult of which is probably, where's God's mercy in the flood narrative? Noah is also faced with the difficult and relateable task of discerning what it is that God wants him to do. Think of his first vision of the flood: there is only one word to accompany the strong images that he must interpret in order to take the next step. He interprets the mountain as Methuselah, the bloody earth as humankind's corrupting sin, and the flower as new life. The vision is only a part of God's plan. Noah must travel on before God gives him the next part of the vision. It's when Noah begins to interpret God's will in a way where his own certainty becomes more important than the nuanced plan that God has for his family that things start to go sideways. Even Ila's interpretation of God's plan for Noah that reconciles him with his family is only one way of looking at the events - it is not accompanied by heavenly choruses or bright lights. There still may be other reasons and purposes for Noah's involvement in the flood that God has not made known yet. (placing this film in a post-modernist vein, where many perspectives are engaged to negotiate meaning).

In "Noah", the "correct" interpretation is very rarely set forth in definite terms. The voice of God does not boom through the film. People like Noah, like us, have to take into consideration all the voices and images and compare them to what we know of God to figure out what on earth it is that we're supposed to do next.

As the audience, we also are in a role of interpretation. For myself, despite the very pessimistic view of human nature and the near despair that Noah reaches as he tries to drink away his shame, the mercy of God is apparent in the film, even in the midst of the gruesome and terrible wickedness and death that stampedes through Noah's story: even when we would kill, God will save. Even when we would destroy, God will rebuild. Even when we would desire revenge, God will provide forgiveness. Even when we would die from guilt, God will reconcile.

"Noah," uses the framework of the flood narrative to explore the questions that we ourselves struggle with in today's world: how do we know what God wants us to do? How do we reconcile God's mercy with his justice? Is humanity corrupted beyond saving? How do we deal with evil: do we become wicked to drive out wickedness, or do we love in spite of it? Although I will probably not watch the film again (too much psychological trauma!), it gave me plenty to think about.



For another perspective on the film, check out Nate's blog for an engaging and intelligent look at "Noah" in terms of art-making: http://adynamicstory.blogspot.ca/2014/04/art-making-and-depiction-of-biblical.html