As I’m sure you know, there has been a horrific amount of discussion and throat-grabbing surrounding the “Noah” movie controversy – much of which has been intramural (among Christians).
Well, I thought I would add my voice to the melee. I wanted to make this easy to follow and reference, so I’ve listed my personal takeaways from the movie below. The points are broken into three categories, but not in any particular order within their category.
Things that bothered some people but didn’t really bother me:
1) The weird animals (antediluvian world, remember?)
2) Noah fighting people off to keep them out of the ark (God did tell Noah in the Bible that only he and his family would be on the ark – but really, Hollywood just needed some more action in their film)
3) The rock people (I mean their presence in the movie – not their role, more on that later)
4) Magical sort of stuff – like Methuselah being some kind of root doctor, and a forest growing overnight for Noah to build the ark.
5) “God” never being mentioned – Well, He’s talked about a lot. But everyone referred to Him as “the Creator” throughout the movie, and I actually liked that.
6) Vegan Noah (eating animals was portrayed as evil) – Nope, this didn’t really bother me, because God didn’t authorize eating animals ’til after the flood. (Noah scolding his son for picking a flower could belong in the next category though).
Things that sort of bothered me (or were just dumb – or I’m just petty):
1) Unnecessary changing of details (that in no way made the movie better) – like only Shem having a wife, and the bad guy hacking his way into the ark
2) (And the order of Noah’s sons (by age) was Shem, Ham, Japheth – instead of Japheth, Shem, Ham)
3) Methuselah died in the flood (the Bible says that Noah and his family were the only believers alive at the time of the flood).
4) The movie plays on the “line of Seth/line of Cain” view of Genesis 6, but really, everyone still had to die. Noah even says, “Know, we have all been judged.”
5) (It also draws from the Book of Enoch’s version of the “angel view,” but then distorts it anyway.)
7) Unnecessarily dark and dramatic musical score… I’m talkin’ like, this soundtrack reminded me of watching an old 1940’s Viking movie or something, when the composers didn’t know how to write happy music, even at a seemingly happy point in the story… This gave the whole movie a dark feeling (as if the content didn’t do that enough).
Things that did bother me:
1) Noah quickly morphed from a good father to a psychopath, (but hey, he had a lot on his plate). Suspensefully almost killing his granddaughters? – Yea, that was a bit much.
2) God clearly intended for only animals to survive the flood. Noah states that the ark is to save the innocent. Noah’s son inquires, “Innocent?” – Noah responds, “The animals.” (Many people threw a fit about the environmentalist agenda of the movie, while others claimed they couldn’t see it at all. While it wasn’t as bad as I expected, that message was certainly present, and hard to miss).
3) Shem says that he thought God chose Noah because he was a good man (sounds like the Bible right?)… Noah quickly retorts that, actually, God chose him because He knew Noah would “complete the task” – i.e. kill his family (yep, that’s really the context).
4) Noah is furious when his daughter-in-law becomes pregnant, and screams at his wife, saying that for her to intervene was “undermining the creator” (because God meant for Noah’s whole family to die). This is basically confirmed by God a moment later… and then again later, when Noah, sadly, tells God he “cannot do this” [i.e. kill his granddaughters].
5) God is portrayed as vindictive, unloving, and cold.
6) Noah is portrayed, not as a righteous man of God, but as a sociopathic, environmentalist, drunk.
7) Evolution is clearly portrayed as the means of creation.
8) The fallen angels were cast out of heaven because they tried to help humans.
9) Then the fallen angels, instead of being one of the main reasons for the flood, actually helped Noah build and then defend the ark!
10) Tubal-Cain, the BAD guy, was actually more doctrinally sound than Noah! This comes out a few times, but specifically at one point, Tubal-Cain says that Noah was acting like men were supposed to serve animals, but Tubal-Cain says that God “made man in His image,” not the animals, and that men are to “have dominion” and “subdue” the earth.
11) The drunken scene at the end of the movie has absolutely no explanation, (and ends the movie with yet another reason to feel depressed and hopeless).
12) The movie very clearly leaned heavily on gnostic, pagan, nihilistic, and mystic sources, much more so than on the Bible (read more about this by Gene Veith, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Dr. Brian Mattson – an opinion about how the Bible wasn’t really the main source text for the movie at all.)
13) Actually, the whole movie felt dark and hopeless, and then ends abruptly with Noah left drunk, naked, and conspicuously unrighteous.
14) My #1 Issue – The movie portrays both Noah and God as cruel and unrighteous, and the viewer is left feeling more like a victim of the flood, wanting nothing to do with this god, rather than desiring to know more about a righteous, holy, and saving God.
I know of many Christians who saw the movie and still endorse and recommend it…
On a scale of 1-10, the amount of actual anger the movie caused me was about a .2; but the amount of anger I feel about Christians who see the movie and then continue to recommend it as a good movie to other Christians, especially undiscerning Christians (like posting something on Facebook for everyone to see), without any sort of cautioning or discerning explanation, is probably an 8.3. It’s utterly irresponsible.
This movie is being hailed by Christians as “art,” that “raises deep spiritual questions, and invites discerning viewers into discussion and exploration of moral themes and paradoxes,” like God’s justice vs. His mercy, His presence vs. transcendence, and humanity’s beauty vs. depravity. But those Christians are acting like the movie asks these deep questions and leaves it to the viewer to ponder and decide for himself. I don’t think it does. I saw the movie answer all these questions clearly: Humanity is far more depraved than precious, so they all must be destroyed; God is far more just than merciful, so it’s up to humans and fallen angels to disobey God in order to save humanity, and convince God to be merciful; and God is far more transcendent than imminent, so He must communicate with mankind in a mystic and murky way that leaves us foggy and confused as to what God’s will is. What’s wrong with this? It’s not how it happened. God spoke to Noah, and Noah understood. Someone else said they liked the movie because it showed God communicating more like the way He communicates with us now. What? Hold on, I thought He spoke to us through His Word, but alright.
(Maybe I’ll write about how we discern God’s will next time).
One reviewer said the movie “respects it’s source material.” Well if you mean the Bible, then no, it blatantly and purposefully does not (see points 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 12 and 14).
Oh and one last thing – for all this talk about the movie “taking a little artistic license,” I think that is giving the term far too broad a definition… Artistic license fills in the gaps and rounds out the characters that are already there, while staying true to the spirit and CHARACTER of the original story… Think, “Ten Commandments,” or “Ben Hur.”
“Noah” did nothing of the sort.
Even at the end of the trailers for the movie, there is an “explanatory message” saying,
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”
However, the movie does not in any way stay true to the “values, and integrity of a story…” That wasn’t even the purpose of the movie. In fact, it grossly distorts the values and integrity of the historical account of the flood. The director of the film himself has said that this movie would be “the least ‘biblical’ biblical film ever made,” And, like Ken Ham said, “I couldn’t agree more.”
To sum up, I think no one has said it better than Matt Walsh:
“As an adaptation or retelling of Judeo-Christian theology, it’s a blatant mockery.
As a film, it’s like the script for a Syfy Network miniseries got shoved into a blender with the treatment for a Lifetime channel made-for-TV movie and then mixed with enough moping nihilism and environmentalist sermonizing to fool pretentious elitists into using words like ‘daring’ and ‘relevant’ when describing it. In other words, it’s aggressively abysmal.
But, as a money-making ploy, it’s a downright masterpiece.
Four Stars for marketing
No Stars for quality, substance, coherence, meaning, or theological accuracy.”