Review

  • This may be the strangest movie you will ever see that was not intended to be strange. It was directed by the fellow who a generation later would make "Casablanca." It was written as a sort of writing masterpiece by a nearly illiterate fellow who would later become a master of the studio system, a real power.

    Its strange in so many ways.

    It folds a collection of Old Testament stories centered on Noah's flood with a simple morality play set in and about WW I. Its a very, very strange superposition that doesn't in any way make sense. The sheer audacity of someone who thought it would is astonishing. Many people were killed in each, I suppose. Some central characters in both stories are played by the same actors, which makes the supposed similarity between the two threads gobsmackingly puzzling.

    Moreover, all the Bible parts are wrong, assuming "right" means that you care about what is actually written. Since virtually no one does — this section of the Bible is hard to make sense of, being itself an unhappy mix of bits from diverse and sometimes contradictory sources.

    Its part silent, and part talkie.

    And its unhappily wrong in its expectations that the world war depicted would — by virtue of God's grace — be the last war. Its heart wrenching.

    A specific irony is that a sort of Jewish queen is played by a woman, who in the modern drama is German. The patriarchs are stereotypically Jewish looking, but the main characters are northern European.

    Cinematically, its grand. The modern sequences are clumsy, but the Bible sequences are pretty impressive, simply because of the scale.

    There really were thousands of extras. And they really did get deluged, in scenes that have them fighting for their lives. Some of the effects are goofy, but others are clearly done in reality: buildings collapsing on people.

    Toward the end of this, you feel that God, having gotten impatient with all the mucking around with grandly confused narrative, has decided to wipe out the whole movie.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.