We’ve mentioned before that Darren Aronofsky’s Noah was partly based on a prize-winning poem Aronofsky wrote when he was 13, which was about the end of the world as seen through the eyes of the Biblical Noah. Well, now that Noah has become a big hit, Variety has dug up both the poem (full text below) and found Aronofsky’s 7th grade teacher, Vera Fried, who had bit parts in the film and wore this fetching pink ensemble to the premiere.
Fried, who is now retired in Delray Beach, Florida, from a lifetime of teaching in Coney Island, N.Y., said she wasn’t familiar with Aronofsky’s work when he reached out.
“I didn’t hear from him for 33 years, and then he sent me the unpunctuated email,” Fried says, noting that the teenage Aronofsky used to punctuate perfectly.
“Do you know how he found me?” Fried asks. “They wouldn’t give him my phone number at the school. His grandma went to a Hadassah meeting in Brooklyn, stood up and said, ‘Does anyone know Vera Fried?’”
Fried says the idea for “Noah,” a big-screen $125 million adaptation of the story of Noah’s Ark, goes back to when Aronofsky was in the seventh grade. She gave him a class assignment to write a poem about peace, and he told his own version of the Biblical story.
Fried entered the ode in a local contest for her students at Mark Twain IS 239. “He was headed for a math career,” Fried recalled. “When the poem came back, I said, ‘Here kid, you won.’”
Aw, I wish Vera Fried was my 7th grade teacher. She has that supportive yet emotionally withholding quality that all screenwriters prize. Here’s the poem:
A Poem by Darren Aronofsky
January 13, 1982
Evil was in the world
The laughing crowd
Left the foolish man at his ark
Filled with animals
When the rain began to fall
It was hopeless
The man could not take the evil crowd with him
But he was allowed to bring his good family.
The rain continued through the night
And the cries of screaming men filled the air
The ark was afloat
Until the dove returned with the leaf
Evil still existed.
When the rainbows reached throughout the sky
The humble man and his family knew what it meant
The animals ran and flew freely with their newborn
The fog rose and the sun shone
Peace was in the air
And it soon appeared in all of man’s heart.
He knew evil would not be kept away
For evil and war could not be destroyed
But neither was it possible to destroy peace
Evil is hard to end and peace is hard to begin
But the rainbow and the dove will always live
Within every man’s heart. [Variety]
I’m no poetry scholar, but come on, that piece of shit didn’t even rhyme.
Still, you have to love the idea that a prize-winning poem by a 7th grader eventually became a $125 million movie in which Nick Nolte plays a rock person and Anthony Hopkins scours the world for berries. I’m starting to believe Darren Aronofsky is the real-life Max Fischer from Rushmore. I like to imagine a 13-year-old Aronofsky shouting “I wrote a prize-winning poem! What did you ever do?”