This past evening I went to finally see the movie Noah. I waited a week to kinda get a feel of what the Christian communities take on the movie was. As an author of Christian fiction I am very aware of how our community values the Biblical text, and any liberties that artists take with it. So I was interested in this for many reasons.
I judge biblically based movies and literature not just how on “accurate” they are in conveying the letter of scripture. But also it’s spirit. The Passion of the Christ is considered (and arguably so) a marquee film in terms of its depiction of the last days of Christ. But there’s nothing to indicate that Jesus made a table as depicted in the movie. (That’s called creative license) Nor is there any scripture that shows Jesus literally stomping on a snake. (Yes, I get the allusion from scripture about Satan’s head.) It is still not literately accurate despite the truth it conveys. So I approach the movie Noah recognizing that it was not scripture, nor can it take anything away from scripture. My question was, was it well made and did it capture the powerful epic collapse of mankind that I was hoping to see.
Let’s start with a few issues people have with the movie.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
It was made by an atheist
This may indeed be true, all indications seem to be that director is atheistic in his beliefs. This does not bother me. What bothers me is that it took an atheist to make a movie on this scale about Noah in the first place. As far as I am concerned the Christian community should had done it. It bothers me that I have to see an atheist tell my theistic story. Where are the Christian directors and financiers who could of done this? The story of Noah is NOT just a Christian’s story. It is a story about mankind. Christians do not have exclusive rights to the Noah narrative. The objective viewer despite the director’s personal beliefs has to conclude the essential story elements of the Bible ARE there to see. God sent a flood to wipe out mankind due to man’s sin. The atheist director got that right. Mel Gibson who people have lauded for making the Passion of the Christ has had some very “unchristlike” behavior in his life during and after the making of the blockbuster the passion of the Christ. Is he “qualified” in making a movie about Christ? If God can use a heathen King to free his people he can use this guy. That should not be an issue by itself to not see the movie.
There is an undercurrent that permeates the statement that “it was made by an atheist.” Part of the undercurrent is that this somehow disqualifies him from making a theatrical movie about a story so dear to many people of various faiths. Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The fact that we as a community have not dismissed the movie in its entirety (unlike others such as, the last temptation of Christ) shows that he possesses some degree of wisdom in not totally moving away from the source material no matter what his theistic position. He still desires to make money off the movie. He could not do that if it was totally off…think about it.
But don’t assume from my objectivity in this area that I liked the movie. I did not. But stay with me I’ll tell you why in a few.
The stone monsters
Yeah that was a bit much for me. The director took poetic license here. His view of the watchers comes from extra biblical literature that the Nephilim were fallen angels. The actual biblical text seems to indicate that the Nephilim were the offspring of fallen angels that mated with women. The giants are referred to as men in the actual Bible. However, the directors choice to use creative license here does not bother me. ONLY because I am literate enough in the background of this piece of scripture to know this comes from extra biblical sources, AND it doesn’t take away from the crucial truth of the text. That God sent a flood to destroy mankind As long as people realize this, and do not propagate doctrinal teaching off of it. I’m fine with it. This movie is NOT scripture. It doesn’t profess to be. He’s not adding to scripture. He’s taking poetic license with a piece of scripture that changes nothing about the nature of God and who Jesus is which is the central issue of Christianity. I didn’t like it..but it was tolerable.
I could go on but let me get to the heart of the matter. I didn’t like the movie and here is why.
My overall problem with the movie, even though it does convey the spirit of the biblical text is that in my opinion it assassinates the character of Noah at the altar of creative license.
I was actually ok with the way Noah was depicted UNTIL the issue of him coming to the conclusion that God wanted to destroy all of mankind which included his own family. At this juncture the director lost me.
Noah’s resulting actions make sense in light of this belief he articulates in the movie. But it’s such a deviation from scripture I found it unpalatable. I’m all for creative license. I was fine with the Watchers. The director chose to ignore the simple issue of Noah having a full compliment of adult people to repopulate the earth. He did solve the 8 people in the ark issue.
But by not adhering to the Biblical narrative he is forced to come up with alternative explanations that begin to run counter to the text. The same thing can be said about Noah having to interpret the will of God.
This whole concept of him having to do this as opposed to being given expressed instructions from God is where the movie really tanked for me. By the director, moving in this direction he left it open for Noah to possibly be wrong in his interpretation of the will of God or worse actually find himself in direct disobedience to God. And boom that’s exactly what happened.
When Noah decides to not kill the small children, the director puts the astute Christian to understand that he has placed Noah in direct conflict with what Noah understands to be the revealed will of God. (That God intended his family to die.) The director could of alleviated this story conflict by God affirming that Noah made the correct decision and misunderstood what God wanted, but by leaving the question unanswered he again leaves a bit too much to interpretative license for my tastes.
The other element that was left open to interpretation is that the fallen angels could be forgiven and return to Heaven. If I understood the story in the movie some left heaven to help Adam, after he sinned. Their actions were contrary to God’s will yet they go down to help man anyway and God punishes them. Then they complete their task which was unauthorized in the first place by helping Noah a descendant of Adam but are allowed back into heaven. Huh? I didn’t get it.
But I understood it because the director had to decide how we was going to get rid of these giants due to his deviation from the biblical text. They couldn’t just drown in the flood, so he had to use a device to get rid of them since they seemingly would have survived the flood. So just ‘poof’ he sent them back to Heaven all’s forgiven, problem solved. He also used this creative device to help show how Noah made the ark. (i.e. the giants helped.) As an author it was lazy story telling to me.
From a movie goers perspective I was disappointed, the bird scene following the trail of water was too CGI for me. The watchers, story line I actually could get with on some level. I also was disappointed in the CGI work. I felt I was watching a stone version of Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings.
The environmental aspect people complain about didn’t bother me either. I found it lacking however, in that it pits two biblical truths against one another for the sake of creative license and to create conflict in the story. I.e. that God wanted man to steward his creation as opposed to him “taking dominion” over it. Actually, both concepts are accurate. It is not an either or but both, and. God did give man dominion over creation, but to steward it not to exploit it. This biblical message is missing from the movie in order to create conflict.
What then should the church say to these things?
The church is the entity that can assault the gates of Hell. If we have so much fear that the influence of this movie will impact people to think that this story actually happened this way. Then to me we should be most shamed of all people. For it indicates that our light has not been powerful enough to impact people, and such a concern says more about us then the atheist director. I am concerned about this affecting people as I am the Philippines staging a successful attack against China. It is NOT going to happen.
Let’s face it. If the only movies you can see as a Christian are those that are 100% accurate to the biblical text, then you will not see any. I am sorry. I enjoyed the Ten Commandments, I love the movie. And I like Yule Brenner, but he is NOT indicative of the color of the Egyptian people of the day. Yet we cherry pick which items need to be “biblically accurate.” I have yet to see any major Christian themed motion picture that is. We subjectively choose to omit things that are inconvenient truths for us.
Honestly, I am more concerned about a new Bible translation being accurate than any picture made by Hollywood. Show me the passion there.
Overall Noah was a disappointment, I wish I had spent my money to watch Captain America.
2 out of 5 stars.
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