Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which I loved, had rock monsters, armadillo-looking deer, horse creatures with scales, and a crapload of berries (seriously, the whole movie was basically propaganda for Big Berry) but nary a black person (or an Asian, or a Latino, for that matter). How to explain such a thing?
Co-screenwriter Ari Handel (second from left) fielded the question during an interview with The High Calling (via Indiewire):
From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, “Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.” Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, “Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?” That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.
Well that’s a… that’s a terrible answer, actually. Ohhh, well it’s a myth, now I get it. Obviously there are no minorities in myth. It’s like my day dreams, of course there’s only white people in them, even when they’re set in Biblical North Africa!
Not that there isn’t an essentially impossible-to-resolve race issue in Noah. A better answer would’ve been that since all modern mankind is theoretically to have been descended from Noah and his small band of ark goers, the racial diversity of all mankind would’ve had to be represented on that ark. Which is somewhat difficult, since they were all members of Noah’s immediate family. So you’re basically left with the choice of making them look like an actual family, or an inexplicably racially-diverse stock photo family with one child of each race. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, which is very Old Testament when you think about it.
Obviously, this opens the door to an all-black remake of Noah a la The Wiz. Might I suggest Kevin Hart as Noah? That guy is on fire right now!
Duh, just do one version of each movie for every race. We call that the “separate but equal” approach to filmmaking. Wait, hold on, my assistant is telling me that we may have to rethink this idea…