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The Watchers from 'Noah' Were in the Bible

But Darren Aronofsky has taken some artistic liberties with them.

Paramount Pictures

Darren Aronofsky's Noah has won heaps of praise, but many moviegoers have left the theater confused by some of his more controversial contributions to the famous story. The Watchers, the movie's giant rock creatures that help Noah build the Ark, have drawn a lot of attention since the movie was released Friday.

Paramount has kept pretty much all images of the creatures off the Internet, making them somewhat mysterious. But a little reading reveals the Watchers were in the Bible, though (as with most things in the movie) Aronofsky has taken some artistic license with them.

The Watchers are fallen angels who have taken the form of six-armed giants made of stone. They're based on the Biblical "Nephilim," who are mentioned twice in the Old Testament. The creatures were supposedly fallen angels who helped the humans after Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden. They're explained a little more in the Book of Enoch and the Book of Giants, religious texts studied mainly by Jewish scholars. Little is known about them, but it's generally agreed that either the Nephilim or their offspring were giants.

A Texas rabbi and author named Geoffrey Dennis delved into the subject in a blog post Monday. He writes, "Aronofsky elides the more lurid part to the tradition, their coupling with human women and producing giant offspring, focusing instead on their role in Enoch as the bringers of knowledge and technology to humanity."

The Biblical basis for the creatures was explored in depth by BadassDigest's Devin Faraci, who spoke with Aronofsky about where the creatures came from. Aronofsky said he struggled with FX studio Industrial Light & Magic to get the creatures right because he didn't "want them to just be cool creatures." He wanted their physical bodies to be a metaphor for the way these angels have fallen, and been trapped by the earth.

"The big image we had stuck to the wall was a seagull trapped in oil," he said. "The way the earth can destroy that type of life form, we wanted to apply to these winged creatures. We went with six-winged creatures because the Seraphim are described as a six-winged creature. When they got encased [in stone] they were able to use the wings as arms and legs."

It's interesting that a retelling of such a well-known Biblical story would incorporate something so fantastic and out of left field, and for the most part it's being regarded as a successful and insightful addition. We'll leave you with a picture the director posted to Twitter of Nick Nolte doing some voice work for the Watcher named Samyaza.

The Watchers from 'Noah' Were in the Bible
Nick Nolte voices a Watcher named Samyaza in Noah.
Twitter.com/DarrenAronofsky
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