(Stained glass window of Noah’s Ark in St Étienne du Mont church in Paris, 2 June 2010/GFreihalter)

Rain lashes down from the heavens while hungry followers of Cain trample over each other for a spot on Noah’s massive wooden ark. The end is inevitable and, of course, not pretty.

Director Darren Aronofsky, best known for dark and unrelenting dramas such as the Oscar-nominated “Black Swan,” would have it no other way in the biblical epic “Noah,” which stars Russell Crowe and is set to be released in U.S. and Canadian theaters, as well as several other countries, on Friday.

“There’s something elemental about the water,” Aronofsky said. “Water has an incredible power to destroy and it also gives rebirth. It’s an amazing force. So, I’ve just always wondered why no one ever brought it to the big screen.”

The film distributed by Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures is the auteur director’s first big test of whether he can guide a big-budget spectacle to box office success.