Noah and Vegan Chocolate Orange Cake

I was on a train the day after the London premiere of Noah when I overheard a journalist who attended the premiere describe it as “very biblical.”  No kidding – I could have told him that after seeing the trailer!  After having seen the movie, I can confirm that there is indeed echoes of “swords and sandals” epics such as The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, but director Darren Aronofsky (coming off the box office success of Black Swan) wanted to revisit his idea of Noah, which he’d had since childhood.

Aronosky’s Noah has created controversy from ultra-religious conservatives, who object to both the portrayal of the “beginning” and the creation as taking a fair clear evolutionary turn, as well as references to “the Creator” rather than God (a word not often used by Middle Eastern Jews at the time of the Old Testament.)  But where Aronofsky’s tale become most interesting is in his examination of faith – examining the contradictions anyone who perpetrated genocide or offered up the lives of their children would always be considered (rightly) subject to child protection procedures rather than an example of devout faith.  This is a stark examination of the brutal nature of faith (anyone like the Catholic Beardy Fiance, who is far more familiar with the parables of Jesus in the New Testament) is faithful to the brutal, gritty nature of the Old Testament and the set design – a barren, stark landscape populated by people in modern looking clothing and hairstyles – is actually quite good for setting the mood and a stark contrast to the flashbacks to a lush Eden.

Pretty much everyone in the world is familiar with the basic premise of Noah and the flood – God sends a flood to wipe out the world, Noah is told to build an ark to save himself and his family (as well as 2 of every animals) from the floods and to repopulate the world.  Aronofsky is determined to present the story as a fall from environmentalism into harsh conflict with the land – which is certainly a considered take.  And this Noah (played by Russell Crowe in a role that actually suits him quite well) is full of self-doubt as to the wisdom of allowing even his family to survive and certainly does not want to repopulate the world – he believes the Creator views humans as a blight on his creation.

As opposed to Biblical lore, Noah’s three sons are barely into their twenties – the Bible rearranges their age order several times, but Biblical tradition holds that the oldest is Shem (Douglas Booth), followed by Ham (Logan Lerman) and the youngest Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll).  The decision to turn them into angsty adolescents doesn’t really compensate for their lack of character development – Shem is a blandly loyal family man, Japheth is the cute kid who is good with animals and only Ham, resentful of his father’s patriarchal control over his life decisions, gets to have any real motivation.  The de-aging of Noah’s sons also means that the ark becomes a very masculine place – with only Noah’s biblicaly unnamed wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and Shem’s wife Ila (Emma Watson) onboard.  The film positions the two women as the heart of the story – arguing for the beauty and love that comes from growing old with a spouse and raising children – a bit of a cliche role for women and one which would have been more interesting with two more women to play against.  But I admit, I can’t be the only person in the theatre who thought that really, things would be a lot better if they allowed the women to sort things out themselves.

Overall, while I’m not sure this is a great movie (the obligatory forays into action by Russell Crowe seem to belong in a different movie) but it’s certainly a thought provoking one.

noah-movie-poster-castVegan Chocolate Orange Cake (adapted from BBC Good Food)


300ml boiling water

42g vegetable shortening

42g dairy-free margarine

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 orange

300g self-rising flour

100g caster sugar

25g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


100g dark chocolate

3 tablespoons golden syrup

Juice of 1 orange

DSC_2296Cream together the vegetable shortening, margarine, boiling water, golden syrup, vanilla and orange zest. DSC_2293Sift in dry ingredients.

DSC_2294Place in greased cake pan (I used a 8 inch – that was about right) and bake at 160C for about 45 minutes.

DSC_2295Allow to cool for several hours.  Melt orange juice, dark chocolate and golden syrup together.

DSC_2297Pour glaze over the cake.  Allow to set.




One comment

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