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Noah: Darren Aronofsky's fantastical film plays loose with its source material, but doesn't sacrifice the message.

Let's begin with an image from Noah that I can't get out of my head.Our titular hero-played with an imposing earthiness by Russell Crowe-is having a dream in which he is at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by floating corpses. He screams and tries to swim to the surface, but to no avail. The hands of the dead pull him down. When Noah wakes, gasping (his silhouette framed beautifully against an pre-diluvian dawn) he tells his wife, simply, "He's going to destroy the world."

It's a chilling reminder of the stakes in this narrative. This is a story any child who's been to church can recite by heart, but we tend to wrap it up in pictures of a cutesy arky-arky with smiling giraffes, calm seas and a chipper Noah manning the ship. There are no flannel graphs of the dead, floating just beneath the surface, no indication that Noah might have felt anything but undiluted bliss at the prospect of facing the rest of his life with his family and new animal friends. It is the story many of us were raised on and, for the most part, have come to accept.

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