Saving Noah

Poor Noah.

 Nobody seems to be able to get his story right

For decades he’s been imprisoned by Churches in preschool rooms, caricatured and confined to children’s ministry murals. I’m sure this great man of faith would be shocked to learn that his life’s work had been reduced to a cartoon theme about smiling animals.

We’re talking about a man who announced a message of repentance, judgment and salvation for the entire earth. God’s champion of earth’s “last days”.

And now, finally, a big movie about Noah has been released. The biggest yet, as in 130 million dollars big.

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Confession time: I am a HUGE Russell Crowe fan, and I love Anthony Hopkin’s acting. I’m also a movie guy. I’ve been looking forward to this one for some time.

The story of Noah is one of the most epic tales in all of human history, demanding that any movie made about him also be equally epic.

So would somebody please explain to me how then can you make a movie this flat, given the amazing source material available?

It seems you would have to intentionally try hard to mess this one up.

In a related story, I am also not a huge art connoisseur, though I have enjoyed repeated trips to London’s National Gallery. Recently I returned from the Louvre in Paris. There, I gazed at ancient artistic portrayals and interpretations of scenes like the crucifixion of Jesus. And though there was a certain level of creativity and artistic license taken, I could still appreciate the effort of the painter to portray the spirit of the event he was painting. After all, art does stimulate the imagination.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if Daren Aronofsky (NOAH’s director) even tried to be artistic. And that makes me sad. Instead, he just made stuff up, as in unbelievable stuff that gutted this movie of its inherent credibility. While watching, I really tried to connect with the Noah character and the story line, but instead found myself rooting for everyone else! Noah wasn’t the faith hero the Bible portrays him to be in Hebrews 11. Nothing like you have imagined him. This Noah is pictured as a troubled soul who never really figures out the real reason for the Ark (other than saving innocent animals, obviously not affected by the fall of man and entrance of sin into the world). Again, the credibility factor was virtually nil. Because of this, I don’t expect any person, Christian or otherwise, to walk away mislead about the biblical story. It’s so unbiblical as to make it unbelievable, even in it’s errors.  

Now I definitely think non-Christians can make biblically based movies and do a great job.  That’s not an issue with me. Nor does it bother me that they have to fill in the blanks where the Bible is silent. Literally every “Bible Movie” does this, but the average viewer doesn’t mind or notice because of the allegiance and similarity to the main story. That’s necessary in adapting a book or story into movie. I get it. I have a high tolerance for adaptations of book-to-film projects, even biblical movies.

But giant rock demons? (Imagine the Ents from LOTR meet the Fantastic Four’s the Thing) Middle Earth, yes. But no matter how you slice it, fallen angels becoming big brothers to Noah to help him build the Ark? I don’t think so.

This movie’s portrayal of man’s sin seemed to be directed at what humanity had done to the planet, not so much to one another. While on the Ark, Aronofsky’s Noah turns into a psycho wannabe killer of babies. He’s a man unsure of who he is and confused as to God’s basic mission for him. Where they conjured up this portrayal I’ll never know. It’s almost as bad as what Churches have done to him over in the kid’s ministry. The writer and scholars Aronofsky consulted may have been inhaling that magic herb potion Noah used to put the animals to sleep for a year.

 I’m not a movie critic, just an average moviegoer with an opinion, but I don’t see this as one of Russell Crowe’s better roles (insert unsmiley face here). It may be that Aronofsky truly is a brilliant director but that action/history epics are not his forte. I’ll let others ultimately make that judgment.

I’m not upset, angry or going into “boycott mode”.

I’m just really, really disappointed. I wanted to cheer NOAH on. To be an advocate. I wanted it to be EPIC. To be a home run. Instead, it struck out.

There are literally too many places to mention where the movie missed the mark – biblically, historically, chronologically and theologically. It wasn’t even a good movie.

Ticket

So what can we redeem from this movie? Here are a few things I appreciated about it:

It did get Noah’s name right.

The movie trailer is really awesome.

People were bad on the earth as the Bible states.

Noah thought himself a sinner (so much so that it clouded all perception of mercy).

There was a global flood.

Noah built an Ark.

People were destroyed.

A dove brought an olive branch.

There was a rainbow at the end.

Cinematically-speaking, I thought the actual flood part was pretty spot on, with tsunami-like violence (as it must have been with subterranean explosions of water everywhere). I thought the crudeness of the Ark’s construction was visually stimulating as well.

So what are we to make of all this? Does this give us more ammo to demonize Hollywood? More reasons to be skeptical, negative and critical of those who attempt to bring faith-based stories to the big screen. I hope not. Even in the midst of overall failure, I still believe in a God who allows no accidents.

While being interviewed on a radio show this week, this thought popped into my head and I remarked, “Noah’s story is one Jesus related to the last days of planet earth. Curiously, at no time in human history since Noah’s day has it been possible for his message of coming global judgment to be broadcast to the whole world . . . until now.”

Though not epic, the timing of this movie may not be a coincidence after all. Despite being a pretty lame movie, I still don’t believe its lack of biblical accuracy is a threat to our faith. Instead, it’s more of a gift, really.

 Should believers go see this movie? Probably, if for no other reason than to draw your own conclusions.

Some Christian reviewers and bloggers have said that it’s pointless to even use NOAH as a conversation piece to start discussions about God, the Bible or the real story of Noah. I disagree. I believe that a part of engaging our culture (as Jesus and Paul did) is discerning the times with an understanding of what to do (I Chron. 12:32). It’s always easier to be negative. Anyone can do that.

On a positive note, the movie NOAH does portray the Creator as a God who judges an evil world, while rescuing his chosen ones from the wrath to come. And that’s real truth we can take and run with.

So back to our original dilemma. Who will free Noah from nursery walls and sub-par movie portrayals? Who will tell the world the truth?

Will the rocks cry out? Or will it be you?

 

For more about the real Noah and how his generation relates to ours, pick up a copy of As It Was in the Days of Noah – Warnings from Prophecy about the Coming Global Storm.

Or better yet, blow the dust off your Bible and read it for yourself.

That story really is EPIC.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Saving Noah

  1. As always, I was anticipating your blog. I was also wanting to plug people in to reading the actual account of the story in th Bible! You are definitely spot-on! I agree that this is not worthy of boycotting or negativity. The word that comes to my mind is “blah”.
    As soon as my coaching season is done, I cannot wait to dig into a copy of “As it Was in the Days of Noah”!!
    You are always authentic JK!

    • We, as Christians, tend to believe that stories in the Bible in some way belong to us, ‘God’s people’. They do not; they are stories which we happen to know best and nothing more. I am not inferring they are not divine or inspired – I believe they are, but the stories in the Bible belong to the human race. Noah is no exception. The story of Noah is not only a story of the Bible; it is actually one of the oldest written stories in the world appearing in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Quran as I was recently reminded by a friend.
      Over the past few months, I’ve seen premature criticism of the film, speculation about the script and comments suggesting that Russell Crowe might just ‘not get who Noah was’. Admittedly, many of these thoughts are with good reason. I’m not so much disagreeing with them as I am saying they are entirely misplaced.
      Noah faced perhaps the single most difficult decision of any human in history. He was asked by God to set right the trajectory of humanity by allowing the non-faithful to wash away. Whether or not those individuals received ‘chances to believe’ is irrelevant. God’s intent was made clear from the beginning, which had very little to do with Noah’s faithfulness.
      The story of Noah is dark. It takes place during a brutal time of history when things were evidently bad enough for God to hit the reset button. GOD REGRETTED CREATING MAN. REGRETTED yes it is violent. This is a story that deals with borderline genocide. We often forget God could be so intense in the Old Testament. It is a story of ridicule, mockery, hard labor, self-searching, survival and the question of insanity all wrapped up into the mind of one man.
      THIS is the side of Noah we see through the course of this film.

  2. Jeff,
    What a thoughtful post. I wish more movie reviewers would put this kind of effort and honesty into their work. No that NOAH is out, and it is what it is, I’m seeing more clearly how God uses one thing to precipitate another, like ‘As it was in the Days of Noah.’
    Thanks man,

  3. I love this picture of Noah. It is preecliss. Isn’t it amazing what lessons we can learn just watching infants and or children? For awhile my sense of wonder & curiosity had been blunted. My husband & I took a road trip out West to celebrate 25 years of marriage. Every single day I woke up with a sense of adventure. Couldn’t wait to see something. Whether large or small the sights were absolutely amazing. I’m working to see things that way during my daily life. Buying a camera was one of the ways to help me. I’m not great at taking photos but have become much more observant. I really do want to know God in all of His awesome wonder and never take Him for granted. Thanks for this post. It serves as a reminder that I need to continue to work on this.

  4. I did not see the movie, but believe it may have stirred up a lot of interest in the real account of Noah and the Flood. Your book is absolutely wonderful and only in God’s perfect timing is it now available. I bought one copy in the Family Christian Store and in reading it I just had to order more, so I ordered 5 more from Amazon. In giving out these books, I believe they can awaken one to the reality that we are nearing the time “As it was in the days of Noah.” Again I must say that your book (like no other) has captured the time we are living in and has accurately and spiritually compared it to Noah’s day. Only the Holy Spirit could have given you the insight, and you have remarkably put it in words. I am thoroughly impressed with your knowledge and how you have presented this fascinating story (truth). I hope and pray this book will bring many men and women to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.