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Going in two by two proves a challenge

by
08 May 2015

Stephen Brown sees a cartoon about being left out of the ark

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FLOOD stories seem to have occurred in many cultures long before being pressed into service by the book of Genesis. That remains a tale that we keep on telling; and Two by Two (Cert. U) is but the latest example.

Most films, including this European cartoon version, seize on the biblical account featuring Noah and his ark, as did the Russell Crowe vehicle (Arts, 4 April 2014); but, whereas that was primarily an action-adventure story, Two by Two, like many previous ark movies, plays it for laughs. This is not necessarily a bad thing. There is a world of difference between being solemn and being serious. Many a true word is spoken in jest.

A lion announces to the animal kingdom that earth is about to be flooded, but "a very nice human called Noah" is building an ark, and they had better hurry up and fill it - which they dutifully do.

Whereupon we encounter the animation's first theological point. Apparently, God's salvation is far from universalist. Not all creatures great or small are welcome aboard. The ungainly nestrians are a case in point. So, Finny and his father, Dave, become stowaways. The inevitable corollary is that, without a mate, nestrians are doomed to extinction unless they learn (Lesson No. 2) to love a fellow creature enough to procreate.

No sooner are they afloat than Finny and Leah, a grymp with whom he has teamed up, accidentally fall overboard. They struggle to reach a patch of dry land as the waters keep rising. It transpires they are not the only animals excluded from the ark. Hungry griffins pursue them, and while Leah is agile, Finny is not.

The weak display strength of a different kind; and there is nothing quite like the end of the world for concentrating the mind wonderfully. The spiritual message is that we may have to lose ourselves before we learn to place our trust in powers previously unknown to us. It is as near as the film gets to asserting that all our hope on God is founded.

The adults also undergo a journey of sorts, discovering kindlier ways of settling disputes than simply eating one another. Noah, in being totally absent from view, becomes a God-like entity. I suspect that his deputies interpret his wishes more harshly than he would have.

This enclosed little world for ever teeters on the verge of chaos. Yet somehow it survives. Although elements of the Genesis story, such as divine judgement, human sinfulness, and covenantal providence, are missing, Two by Two remains a thoroughly moral tale, full of dire warnings. It is amusingly told with a voice cast we are unlikely to recognise, with the exception of Chris Evans as Stayput.


On current release.

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