Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” still seems to have divided opinions about the story of the Great Flood, even if many of the film’s segments are taken directly from biblical scripture. One of those segments is Noah reciting the story of creation to his family, which must have been one of the greatest storytelling efforts ever done, and arguably since. While bedtime stories in the modern era don’t provoke nearly as much thought, it’s the story of Adam and Eve that still plants countless questions. Because there’s still so much mystery there, it’s even more of a mystery why Hollywood hasn’t taken them on much more seriously than they have.
Aronofsky’s brief depiction of Adam and Eve during “Noah’s” Birth of Creation segment is a good starting point. The overall segment is one of the most brilliant scenes in the film and has rising star Ariane Rinehart as Eve and Adam Griffith as Adam. We finally get an ethereally believable depiction that doesn’t involve delving into comedy or making us continuously snicker at the fig leaves placed on specific areas of the body. And that’s really saying something when Adam and Eve have somehow become figures worthy of comedy in movies than making them the seriously pivotal turning points for the trajectory of human beings.
It didn’t start out that way in movies if you go with the silent era when various attempts were made to create a believable feature length on Adam and Eve’s birth and fate. Then again, the silent era couldn’t resist a few satiric jabs themselves with odd titles such as “Adam and Eve a la Mode” giving you a visual of what was to come without even having to see the film.
With many of those early silent depictions lost to time, they’re only on record now for having existed. In fact, they’re a bit of an analogy for Adam and Eve themselves where biblical record tells us they existed, yet forming our own visuals about what they really looked like and the details that went down in the Garden of Eden. There’s just as much unknown about the origins of Garden of Eden as there is with the occupants.
But did Hollywood ever really attempt to make Adam and Eve serious beyond the silent era? Foreign filmmakers made some attempts, and American film gave a hint at what could have been done long before “Noah” was a glint of an idea.
“In the Beginning”
Countries from Italy to Egypt made movie depictions of Adam and Eve throughout the 1940s and ’50s. Some of them were mere metaphors for the first couple and were set in the modern day as part of the reluctance to depict how things might have been in the actual time period. Only did American director John Huston dare take it on as part of his “The Bible: In the Beginning”, made in 1966.
The above film used to get considerable TV airings, though it hasn’t for a while. Regardless, it arguably had the only serious depiction of Adam and Eve in the latter half of 20th century film. Played by Michael Parks and Ulla Bergryd, it artfully took a closer examination at the price humanity paid for Adam and Eve’s temptations. Yet, can the entire story be depicted at feature length, or does it have to be an opening appendage to the chapters that follow in the bible?
Is Adam & Eve Suitable for Feature Length?
Ariane Rinehart and Adam Griffith’s Adam and Eve in “Noah” set a modernly interesting depiction that many likely wished could have been expanded upon. Then again, perhaps the non-visualized intrigue behind Adam and Eve is more powerful than literally depicting all the details. The best that movies can do in recent years is placing the characters in comedy fare like 2009’s “Year One.” And it may never go beyond that or snapshot depictions done with a straight face.
The deeper psychology of why Eve did what she did and the profundity of her being the matriarch of all humanity still needs a lengthy film study by someone brave enough to take it on exclusively. The same with Adam and whether he and Eve really looked anything like movies depict them. A more daring take based on biblical speculation and even some connective strings from historical findings could take it away from the usual basic symbolism of paradise gone wrong.
Someday, someone will show the true origins of what it was like to be human. Getting into the minds of Adam and Eve, however, may need as much visual imagination as Darren Aronofsky placed into “Noah.” If we knew the real truth, it might look more like a sci-fi movie than any believer or non-believer wants to admit.