Why @BBCOne’s #TheArk was actually surprisingly good

This week I have been watching the BBC’s new film, ‘The Ark’. This, in itself, is a bit surprising, given my dislike of bible films in general, and Noah films in particular. But something in the trailer gave me hope. I think it was the mud-brick huts…

And yeah, it’s really good. It’s written by Tony Jordan, who has previously covered the Nativity story. It’s suitably light-touch when it comes to biblical stuff, with most of the weight going on the drama that exists within the family. The lead role is taken by David Threlfall, who is best known for his role as another patriarch in Shameless.

One thing you won’t get from the trailer is just how funny it is. There’s a lot of coarse, jokey humour and plenty of family banter. At one point two sons tease a third about how he isn’t getting any in the sack. That may be exactly why the whole thing works. When the family gathers round the table and squabbles over food (which they do at least four times in the 90-minute film) you can really feel the love. When that turns to anger and squabbling, there is a real tragic pathos to it.

The Ark WivesWhere it falls down is on the core elements that you’d expect from an Ark story. The whole two-by-two sequence is taken care of in one silhouetted CGI shot at dusk. The flood itself is represented by a weird CGI sequence with tectonic plates shifting about under the ocean. I would’ve been happier with big murky tidal waves.

It’s also likely to do something that Russell Crowe’s ‘Noah’ spectacularly failed on, which is to satisfy both the believers and the unconvinced. All-in-all, it’s definitely worth watching.

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