It's ironic that the biblical tale about saving animals during the Great Flood hasn't cast any animal actors to be featured in the film. While PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] was most pleased with the decision, at first blush it does seem somewhat disingenuous that real animals weren't used to recreate about saving the planet's animals.
However, in reviewing some of the unfortunate mishaps and unexpected cruelty endured by real animals in film, the director's decision to us CGI (computer generated imagery) versus real creatures appears to have been the best option.
Over the years, PETA has criticized a slew of film productions including the recent music video "Roar" by Katy Perry [for more on that story, see "Animal Rights: Katy Perry ROARS & PETA ROARS Back."]
One of the most publicized cases occured In 2012, during the filming of "The Hobbit" movie trilogy in New Zealand, when animal wranglers protested against director Peter Jackson's ill treatment of animals in his filmmaking. The whistle-blowers that exposed him to the media pointed to his production company being responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals (including 3 horses), largely because they were kept at a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other "death traps."
So "Noah" directed by Darren Aronofsky took the approach that filmmaking was an unsafe environment, particularly in his case where the sheer number of animals required would have been in the hundreds.
“I think we’ve learned from people who have done it before that that’s a really bad move,” he tells the Directors Guild of America. “Politically it’s not a great thing to work with live animals and that’s becoming more apparent to people as time goes by, but also, technically, it would have been extremely difficult. And we’ve learned from lots of other films how hard it is to bring different kinds of animals together.”
In regards to actors that support the non-use of animals in film, Adrian Brody narrated an award-winning PSA on the topic. This heartbreaking 35-second short, which highlights the misery and isolation of an ape who is forced to perform, was brought to life by The Mill production company.
“The bottom line is that we no longer can excuse the exploitation that exists in this world. Great apes are no exception,” Brody said about the ad. “They are extremely sensitive, intelligent, and emotional beings. It’s sad that they’re still commonly used in television and film, especially when we know how much they suffer behind the scenes. Acting should be left to actors—and that means human beings who have a choice in the matter.”
Aronofsky cites that his previous usage of animal actors in the past as not being something he was not proud of. "When I did 'The Fountain,' we had live primates on set," he says. "I had never worked with animals before and this was before digital animals were really happening. I was pretty alarmed with the condition that they were being kept in."
So, today's blog unfortunately does not have any specific animals to report on - but based on the topic - that is a good thing. All we can say confidently is we're glad this movie's story arc was focused on what was its most dramatic prop - namely, the ark! And the CGI animals are kind of cool as well!