Thursday, 2 April 2015
The Ark (2015)
I'm not religious and so epic retellings of stories from the Bible have never really done much for me, but I tuned in for The Ark which aired on BBC1 ahead of the Easter weekend this week simply the actors involved; David Threlfall and Joanne Whalley, Ashley Walters, The Village and My Mad Fat Diary star Nico Mirallegro, One Day's Georgina Campbell, In The Flesh's Emily Bevan - this was a good line up, all tempted into sandals and shawls by veteran scriptwriter Tony Jordan (creator of Hustle, co-creator of Life on Mars and writer of over 200 episodes of EastEnders) who brought a distinctively contemporary flavour to the Old Testament tale.
"There is violence, arrogance, hatred of those who are different to you, a world run by money-lenders and warmongers, where one man grows fat, yet happily watches whilst another starves, where old men use the bodies of children to feed their desires …"
Is that a description of the world nearly 5,000 years ago or is it a description of the credit crunched, post 9/11 Tory led UK of Operation Yewtree, heavily bonused bankers and Wonga.com? Tapping into the contemporary aims, the actors depict the ark builders as distinctly Northern with Threlfall - who is perhaps most famous to TV viewers today as the Mancunian legend Frank Gallagher from Shameless - even delivering a 'Salford Kiss' and a knee to the nuts to one would be mugger in the immoral, atheist 'dog eat dog' city he is forced to trade in and ultimately deliver his message to. Shameless' Frank would have been proud of such behaviour, that's for sure! Meanwhile his youngest son (Mirallegro) bewitched by the city finds sex, drugs and all night music and dancing in what could pass for a Biblical Middle Eastern Haçienda!
Unlike Darren Aronofsky's bloated and brooding Noah (I tried to watch it at Christmas, I lasted about twenty minutes) Tony Jordan delivers a Noah who is very human, a benevolent patriarch and family man who wants to save the best of mankind from God's judgement. As a result he also concentrates much more on the human aspect of the drama and how Noah's spiritual challenge was ultimately supported by the family who clearly loved and trusted him despite their own initial disbelief. The actual voyage on the flood is not shown here, the drama concluding with the arrival of the flood and its immediate aftermath. As a result, emotionally, the tale is told rather well and engaging enough with the real splendour coming from the acting, the desire to speak to a modern audience and the beautiful Moroccan landscapes, rather than any Aronofsky-matching CGI which of course the BBC budget could not hope to match.