(Although I cover a few characters, themes, and general plot, I did my best to make sure there are no spoilers in this review).
There’s been a whole lot of controversy surrounding the new movie Noah, starring big names such as Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins. So much so that I found myself almost wishing that I hadn’t pre-ordered tickets. Even before seeing the film, I wasn’t so sure that this would be a movie I really wanted to support. And then when I did see it, I contemplated whether or not I wanted to use my blog to review it. But as I posted the trailer on my blog months ago, I felt it only right to share with you how I felt about the end result.
It’s just a movie, you might think. In fact, many people are criticizing those who speak out against it, saying that Christians and Catholics are making too big a deal out of something meant merely for entertainment. And at first, I may have even agreed, never having expected Hollywood to get the Biblical story right in the first place. But then it occurred to me that there would have been outrage had movies based on popular books such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Divergent, or even The Help strayed too far from the original script. And with good reason! The books are extremely popular, and their fans would not have stood for a movie that didn’t do the original writing justice.
So it only makes complete sense that there is major concern, dissatisfaction, and even outrage over a movie that takes a beloved Bible story… and turns it into a tale that hardly resembles the original manuscript.
Still, despite the controversy, I watched the movie with a completely open mind, for several reasons. First of all, I have to admit that I’m a huge Russell Crowe fan. Then again, who isn’t?? And secondly, the story of Noah is a favorite of mine, and I truly wanted to embrace a movie that brought the story to life.
So I shrugged off a few things. I decided to try accepting the completely unbiblical depiction of giant rock creatures – The Watchers – who, according to the movie, are fallen angels who help Noah build the ark.
“Eh, they’re just using artistic license to make the story more interesting,” I thought to myself.
Since you know, a worldwide flood that destroys everything but one righteous family and two of every animal isn’t interesting enough. But still, I could look past them and their resemblance to robots from the Transformer movies if I tried hard enough.
There were other unbiblical parts that I also could force myself to overlook. Again, I realized that the director was trying to turn a chapter or two of the Bible into a complete movie. Dialogue and story lines would have to be added, as the Bible doesn’t give you detailed accounts of what Noah and his family were feeling emotionally as they were commanded to build an ark.
But sadly, there were some pretty big parts that I could not overlook, even if I tried. Which I won’t.
First of all, it bothered me that only one of Noah’s sons had a wife in the movie, because the Bible clearly states that all three sons had wives. The middle son was not left alone, tortured by loneliness for a woman in his life, as the movie portrays throughout its entirety. This blatant changing of scripture certainly wasn’t necessary.
I’m sorry, but if the Bible states that all three sons had wives (a.k.a. all three of Noah’s sons had the ability to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ after the flood), then the director’s decision to cut that to meet his agenda (a.k.a. man is bad and God didn’t want him to continue multiplying on the earth) doesn’t work… at all.
This leads me to the biggest thing that bothered me about Noah. The entire theme was that of saving animals… and removing man from the face of the planet.
According to Aronofsky’s version of Noah, God was angered by man’s wickedness, and He decides to send a great flood to wipe out the entire world. In the movie, the Creator speaks to Noah in a dream (although the dream is very difficult for Noah to comprehend, so he seeks council from his grandfather Methuselah). Noah then comes to the conclusion that God wants to save the innocent (a.k.a. animals) and to destroy all of mankind. He adds that he was chosen by God merely because God knew he would complete the task. And ‘completing the task’, at one point, causes Noah to believe that he is meant to kill himself and his family, since they carry wickedness in them. Only animals are meant to survive, so that the planet can once again become a beautiful paradise (free from the brutal, destructive man).
Yes, according to the Bible, God was angered by man’s wickedness and therefore did regret creating man. However, the Bible also clearly states that God saw that Noah was righteous and so Noah found favor in God’s eyes. Noah wasn’t just chosen, because he would complete the task. He was chosen, because he was not committing the wicked, violent, hateful sins that the rest of the world was. Noah was a good man (the last good man), and so God – in His mercy – decided to save him and his entire family. So while there is still the impending justice that will come with the flood, there is still evidence of a loving God who sees those who are doing their best to follow Him.
One good man, even if he was surrounded by a world of evil men, was worth saving.
Secondly, Noah wasn’t sent a dream that he found impossible to decipher. The movie makes it seem as though the Creator (never referred to as God) is distant and often does not answer. According to the Bible, God not only gave Noah the direction to build an ark, he also gave Noah the exact measurements needed to make it. That doesn’t sound like a confusing dream to me! It sounds more like a loving miracle!!
The movie makes it seem as though Noah and his family are stumbling through the dark, trying to figure out what has to be done. And when there’s division, Noah has to make the tough decisions. There’s no thought to pray to the One who reached down from heaven to save them in the first place. There’s absolutely no evidence of the power that shines through the Biblical story – of the faithfulness of one man and how God saved him along with two of every living creature. Quite frankly, Aronofsky’s version is rather depressing.
Granted, the story of Noah isn’t without great sadness, as thousands of people lost their lives in the flood. It was tragic. And I imagine that this loss did have an emotional impact on a good man such as Noah, even if the Bible says that every man on earth (other than Noah) was extremely wicked, violent, and hateful. But the movie failed to also show God’s love for mankind in allowing him to begin again. Noah was a good man, and so God saved him. (Let’s not forget that in the Bible, after Noah and his family step back onto dry ground and worship God in thanks, God promises that He will never again destroy the world with a flood… and He sets a rainbow in the sky as a reminder).
The story of Noah isn’t about God’s hatred of man. It’s about redemption. Forgiveness. It’s about a Creator who is just, which means there is punishment… but there is also saving grace. And it’s a story of miracles! While the movie makes it seem as though animals – traveling two by two into an ark – was just something that happened to save crawling and creeping creatures, it was really something more miraculous than we can even imagine.
The movie was good if you’re just looking for entertainment. But for those of us who see so much more when we read the Biblical account, it was a major disappointment. I’m sure that Darren Aronofsky is proud of his achievement, as he said in an interview that he wanted to create the least biblical, biblical movie ever made. He did just that.
But to me, it’s sad that movie-goers will miss the entire point of Noah’s faithfulness and the ark. So I have to say that if you haven’t already gone to see it, don’t waste your hard-earned money. Sadly, it’s not worth it. And it really is acceptable, as well as our right, to send a message to Hollywood that twisting a story from the Bible is not okay… nor something that we care to support. It’s what any true fan would do!