The Noah (1975) poster

The Noah (1975)


USA. 1975.


Director/Screenplay – Daniel Bourla, Story – Abraham Heffner, Producer – Louis de Rochemont III, Photography (b&w) – Jerry Kalogeratos, Art Direction – Henry Wong. Production Company – The Noah Production Company.


Robert Strauss (Noah), Geoffrey Holder (Friday), Sally Kirkland (Friday Anne)


Noah, an American soldier, is the last man left alive. Nuclear war has wiped civilisation out and he has only survived because he was in a bunker. He arrives on a desert island and sets up camp in an abandoned hut. All alone, he creates a man Friday in his head to converse with and then a woman Friday Anne as companion, before driving the two away for mischief-making. He then constructs entire imaginary armies and rehearses war.

The Noah was the one and only film ever directed by Daniel Bourla, who has a couple of credits elsewhere as a producer of films made in Greece. The name of the director is not even clear – the IMDB calls him Daniel Bourla, the name that is listed on the opening credits, whereas Wikipedia and other sources insists on calling him Daniel Bouria, which you suspected is a typo somewhere that has been repeated by others.

As Bourla recounts in an article in Film Threat, he conceived the film as a minimalist work in the early 1960s and originally sought to mount it with Mickey Rooney. (His name is given as Bourla in the interview so I will take that as being th most accurate to the source). The film was eventually shot in Puerto Rico with Robert Strauss. Apparently, Strauss had such difficulty with the role that he and Bourla would not talk to one another as shooting progressed. The film was not completed until 1973 because it ran out of financing. Wikipedia claims that the film did have four screenings in New York before an injunction was filed by a lawyer over unpaid debts. Bourla subsequently moved into distribution and running a pirate tv channel in Greece. A bootleg copy began to circulate in 1997 and finally ended up on YouTube, leading to the film’s rediscovery,

Ever since Five (1951), there has been a whole bunch of films about the last survivors or only people left on Earth. This followed through works such as The World, The Flesh and The Devil (1958), On the Beach (1959) and The Last Woman on Earth (1960), all of which posited a nuclear holocaust as the reason. From the 1980s, the genre was continued in non-nuclear films like The Quiet Earth (1985), Vanishing on 7th Street (2010), The Midnight After (2014) and Bokeh (2017). See Last People on Earth Films for a full listing of these.

Robert Strauss as The Noah (1975)
Robert Strauss as Noah

By and large, The Noah has no real interest in depicting Nuclear War or its aftermath – this is dispended with as happening somewhere else and the means whereby Robert Strauss survived is dealt with in about three line of dialogue. What the film is is an experimental film. There is one person (Robert Strauss) on screen wandering around a hut and barracks on the beach of a tropical island for the whole running time. The entire film takes place in this single location and never ventures beyond, while there is only a single character – Robert Strauss, to whom Noah both seems a first name and a title ‘The Noah’. You could consider it an early version of Cast Away (2000), albeit made as a black-and-white experimental film.

It is not long before The Noah starts to push into experimental film territory. Soon after arriving, Robert Strauss is having conversations with Imaginary Companions. We hear their voices – represented by Geoffrey Holder and Sally Kirkland – but never see them. In some shots, Strauss will talk directly to the camera. He develops a friendship with the two – he even builds separate men and women’s latrines – but kicks them out when he finds them in bed together. He then creates a school, an imaginary army and we see scenes of him drilling them in military manoeuvres. The latter scenes of the film are represented by voiceovers from news broadcasts – from World War II through JFK and the Vietnam War – that appear to be recounting the events leading up to the nuclear war.

If there is an overall meaning to this, it is one that seems to have escaped me, except perhaps that loneliness drives people to make up imaginary companions. Clearly made in the very experimental phase of 1960s filmmaking, this is more interesting as an artistic experiment than it is as an actual film. The scenes of Robert Strauss talking to voices and running around in the rain go on so long that you start looking at your watch.

Full film available here

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