Noah (Clint Mansell)

In 2014, director Darren Aronofsky brought his long-gestating passion project to life--this ancient epic, a loose retelling of the tale of Noah and the great flood. Taking inspiration from non-canonical poems of Jewish origin, this post-modern take on the story, including both fantastical and troublingly dark themes, this story was bound for controversy, especially from any expecting a more traditional biblical parable--though it is one that explores a cliched story through a fresh and illuminating look. Joining the director for the ride is his frequent collaborator, English composer Clint Mansell. As befitting the film, this is not the typical Rozsa-esque sublime religious epic of olden days, but rather a grim dramatic score that paints the picture of this primordial, violent world. Featuring the Kronos Quartet, one of my favorite performing groups, alongside a heavy orchestral presence, this score captures the uneasy tone of human depravity, and musically tells the story of God's conflicting wrath and mercy. 

This is an ancient world, where the fingerprints of the Creator still linger in a visceral way, a world of equal parts magical wonder and primal rage. Visually the film echoes this, with Matty Libatique's cinematography shifting between surreal and phantasmagorically saturated images of the divine to the almost monochromatic and filthy world of man. I wanted to try to capture a bit of that in my covers, offering a total of six here to choose from, all adapting central marketing artwork. The original album cover is effective and moody, offering a dark and gritty ocean, but as per my usual style, I prefer something a little less minimal, showcasing the film's central elements.

The first cover uses a wallpaper of the ark among the story seas, capturing the various tones--danger and beauty, sunlight peeking through the raging storm. All I had to do here was compress the background image a little, to try to capture a slightly wider section of waves.

Cover 2 uses a grim pose of an ax-wielding Russell Crowe as Noah, clearly saying that "this ain't your daddy's Noah story". I desaturated the background of the image a little, as I didn't like the rainbow hues, and then I created an alt version of the title, using the same font as used in other posters, but adding a more color and texture.

The third and fourth cover use a fairly simple edit of this epic teaser poster. I just slid the top of the image down a little to better suit the crop and added a touch of color. I ended up providing a second variant (4). My first take was 3, but shout-out to my friend Vikram for pointing out that the yellow title that I created in the previous image might work better here. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to come up with a better fix. The more bolder, more modern text indeed stands out much more clearly, and the saturated yellow pops nicely against the blue background. The trick here was then figuring out how to space and fit the rest of the text. Originally, I had a version pretty similar to 3, but with the new title and yellow text, but I ended up going with the modern font and going more minimal on the text to use up that dark corner. You now get two covers for the price of one, and can see how simple design changes can have a very different effect.

Cover 4 takes the primary poster of the film, but I wanted to play around with it a little. So I started by pulling most of the color out of the background, and then adding a yellowish, sepia-like hue, while keeping the skin tones mostly in tact. It's total subjective preference whether you like this version more of the original blue tones, but I wanted to offer sometimes tonally different from the next (very similar) poster, and thought this gave it an old-school, period feel. I also edited out the bottom of the image, as the image with Tubal-Cain and his army fit weirdly into the corner, so I simply edited over it using the ark wallpaper used above. 

The fifth and final cover offers a poster similar to the last, though with an alternate image of Noah, and some elements reconfigured. This one didn't take all that much manipulation, cloning out the title up top, etc., but like with many of these images, I struggled for hours trying to figure out how to compose things, shifting text around endlessly. Sometimes certain images just prove challenging, maybe just because of the particular placing of things, and then you add the title and text credits on top, and it becomes a puzzle game, shifting things up, down, left right, changing sizes, colors, spacing, etc., until it all manages to feel balanced. Sometimes this happens easily, and it just feels right, other times, I never quite achieve that feeling of ideal harmony, but have to call it good enough. 

Hope you enjoy this latest set and let me know which best suits the tone of the film and the music for you, and which you might pick for your own personal collection, if you do. 

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