Myths are sacred stories; stories which embody a culture’s most significant
ideas. As a ‘mythic vision,’ these ideas are demarcated in the cinematic
text as moments of discernible difference. Moments which demand we stop and
contemplate the sacred’s imposition in the continuity of the film. This
chapter explores Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014) in terms of its
mythic vision, a big-budget mainstream Hollywood biblical epic retelling of
Genesis 6–9. But this chapter will also consider Ridley Scott’s Exodus:
Gods and Kings (2014), a film which, rather than a ‘mythic’ vision,
tries to recontextualise the story of the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt
into a desacralised retelling, a film which denies the mythology inherent in
the narrative. By discussing Scott’s Exodus, Aronofsky’s mythic
vision in Noah is highlighted in relief.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.