As "Noah" sails to U.S. theaters this weekend, Darren Aronofsky's former teacher, Vera Fried, says his idea for the biblical pic dates all the way back to 1982 when the director was just in the seventh grade. He wrote a poem about his own version of the epic story for a class assignment she gave, and it won a United Nations poetry competition.
Three decades later, the "Black Swan" director contacted Fried to thank her for inspiring him to become a writer. "I didn't hear from him for 33 years, and then he sent me the unpunctuated email," she told Variety, recalling that the young Aronofsky used to punctuate perfectly.
Aronofsky gave her a cameo role in the movie and invited her to the movie's premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. He called her to the podium, handed her the old poem, and asked her to read it out loud in front of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and other A-list guests. "I was crying," she said. "If he has some of his other papers, I'd take them."
Despite facing controversies from religious communities, "Noah" gets off to a good start. In North America, it grossed $1.6 million on its opening Thursday night, surpassing the $1.1 million cume of last week's Christian pic "Son of God" and the $1.4 million collected by "Gravity" on Thursday night last year. While "Son of God" finished its first weekend with $25.6 million, "Noah" is expected to reach a triumphant $40 million.
Overseas, "Noah" collected an estimated $2.6 million in Russia alone on Thursday. Overall, it has raked in $22 million from four locations, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, and Russia. The movie will expand to wider market by Friday.
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.