Movie Review: Noah

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I wrote this article March 29th (finished it April 6th) at the prodding of friends after a group of us saw this film. I wrote this mostly for them but didn’t post it because the site wasn’t up. I realize this is late as a movie review:

Since I am in the radio industry, I received a great deal of press releases and blogs on the subject of the movie “Noah”. Everyone wanted to come on the radio and give their two cents about it. The movie studio was offering giveaway baskets for anyone who would mention it on air. I read everything that crossed my desk and pondered it all. I saw a great outcry among the Christian community. I understand their problems as I myself am very strict about a Bible based movie following the correct divine script.

Before I get into the details, let me just say I expected that going to the movie would be worth it despite the unbiblical narrative. I thought the special effects and amazing visuals would be worth seeing. I thought that so deeply that I went to an IMAX showing. I expected the movie to be amazing and terrible. Turned out it was just terrible. It was darker and worse than any review I read. Even walking into that theatre with a full script of the unbiblical details, I was still horrified. I must admit that I agree with the term blasphemy being applied to this movie.

The darkness shown on screen was so thick. I knew this movie was said to have green themes that elevated animals above humanity. Yet the amount of violence against animals and the utter defilement in the ways they were killed was horrifying. I saw bloodshed that was beyond just eating animals for sustenance and traveled deep into the realm of people who love and live for murder. Some of the most horrific scenes for me to watch involved animal killings. There was also a particularly terrorizing scene in a dream where all the dead bodies were in the water. The crafters of that scene spared the audience no amount of anxiety, allowing dead people to float with eyes open very near the camera view. The amount of disturbing scenes in the movie overall left me greatly upset. I wish some of the reviews had focused on the horror beyond the out of place facts. I wouldn’t have set foot in the theatre.

Before I begin, I think the warnings from the studio were not enough. Saying “artistic license” had been taken and it deviated from the storyline doesn’t make what they did to the story of Noah acceptable. They openly mocked Noah, God, and the story itself with their rendition. If they wanted to take the story and make their own parable, they could have drawn from any ancient rendering of a worldwide flood. Many religions and many ancient people have a flood story. Instead they named all of the biblical players taking the characters but little of the meaning of the story. The ads were cleverly directed to look as though the biblical story was preserved. Noah proclaiming he is not alone is meant to evoke the thought that God is with him. Instead the movie shows he means the rock people will protect him. This movie represents a betrayal of the story and the audience it was aimed to ensnare. (Also please see a link near the end of this post indicating the best blog I found explaining what happened with this movie- Gnosticism and kabbalah)

Sin that Brought the Flood

The movie took Cain’s murder of Abel as the beginning of the descent of and reason for the ultimate flood destruction. In fact, the reasons for the demise of man began in the garden. It began with the first sin of rebellion against God (Genesis 3). Not the first murder. Cain murdered Abel out of anger and jealousy. He was angry that God didn’t receive his offering (Genesis 4). Murder was yet another way that man rebelled against God. Cain followed the path of becoming more perverse and out of step with the image of God that man was created to mirror (“let us make man in our image”- Genesis 1:26).

I hate that the movie character of Noah puts himself and his wife down for being willing to do anything to protect their children. When the script throws out the difference between murder and self-defense, I just don’t even know how to relate. Also, when animals are elevated to the same level of humanity, I have a problem. Despite how poorly Tubul Cain is portrayed in the film, he is one of the few that does make some scripture based statements about stewardship and subduing the earth. He is painted as the most disturbingly evil and immoral type. The opening scenes show him murdering Noah’s father for no reason. Later he talks about being over animals as he eats the head of a snake on the ark where he stowed away (Genesis 1:28). By eating the hibernating animals, he is ensuring those species will go extinct. The moment and its repercussions are upsetting even for meat eating audience members. The frustrating thing about all of these moments is none of them happened. They are meant to upset and disturb the audience but with not a moment of authentic information.

Fallen Angels

From the little I know about extra biblical texts like the book of Enoch, it is suggested the reason God wanted to wipe out man was because demons (fallen angels) had begun to mate with women creating a darker race. It also says that the demons taught humanity all new ways of sinning and turning from God’s ways. I can tell you that the opposite is supported by this movie. The fallen angels in the movie were in trouble with God for trying to help man. When they saw man sin and get kicked out of Eden, they left heaven to help. God didn’t like this decision and allowed their flaming angelic bodies to become encased in molten rock that dried to disfigure their bodies. From the beginning, all I kept thinking about them was how much they reminded me of the transformers. I was a little relieved when I saw multiple reviews saying the same thing.

Mankind betrays the watchers, fights them, and tries to enslave them. They become bitter but Noah manages to win them over with a supernatural moment (which is so cool I wish the Bible had it for real). They see Noah has been anointed by God and they decide to fight for him and God. In the end, this act of selflessness wins them back into God’s approval and they are invited into heaven. They win forgiveness (see 2 Peter 2:4 for the real story). Obviously none of that is biblical, but even worse is that demons are not taken seriously nor is the real reason for man and angels losing favor with God. Sin is serious. Rebellion against God is enough to end life. It brought death into the world and it ended up in nearly everyone in the world dying in the story of Noah (and in plenty of other Old Testament stories). If we ignore the weight of sin and pretend evil is simply bad stewardship or hurting creation (whether killing each other, animals, or the earth) then the story has lost its real weight.

The Reason for the Flood

The real reason God destroyed mankind was sin. Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.  And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.’”

Every intention and thought in the hearts of mankind was evil (“all flesh” could even imply the animals were somehow corrupt). There was no good (despite the movie trying to show people fighting to find the good in themselves) and they were given over completely to evil. Scripture does bring up and emphasize violence, as did the movie. However, when you compare the situation to what happened in the garden you must realize the root. Ultimately, God hates violence but that is just a symptom of a bigger problem. God saw the whole picture as corrupt outside of Noah. He saw a man who was righteous in Noah and he made him a vessel of salvation for his family and for the race of man. Noah and his ark became the Old Testament’s first sign of salvation. Later in the New Testament, this symbolism applies to Jesus who becomes the ark for saving humanity. Yet the ending of this movie ignores the scriptural ending that points to Jesus. Noah and his family exit the ark to sacrifice animals to God, make an altar, and God gives them his blessing yet again. When the movie didn’t show or reference the animal sacrifices, they ignored the fact that sin was still present and this would lead to a sacrifice system that would ultimately be fulfilled in the perfect sacrifice of Christ. This movie ignored the salvation aspect of the ark.

Noah’s Reputation

I absolutely hated the movie representation of Noah. He made himself judge, jury, and executioner over humanity in the movie. He claimed to want justice but he ended up being in a homicidal rage, insistent that everyone deserved death and humanity must end when the ark lands. He ignored all of the terrified cries of the people being swept away by the flood who were clinging to the tip of a mountain. His wife was eager to throw ropes out and save some of them. He tried to execute his first grandchildren. He allowed Ham’s choice for a wife to die in a bear trap/ stampede.

None of that of course really happened. In reality, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. God established a covenant with him to keep him alive along with his family (all of his sons brought wives) and two of every animal type (Genesis 6:18). God said, “I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). The rest of scripture also spoke favorably of Noah. 2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness” or “herald of righteousness” with herald referring to “one who announces.” This verse is probably the reason that Jewish tradition and every church I have been in has taught that Noah spent the years during the construction of the ark preaching of the coming destruction and trying to get others to repent. It is folklore that I think was likely.

At the very least, the ark being built was a sign and a wonder. Noah built an enormous boat on land, probably not near water, and gathered two of every animal into it. This was unusual and should have been a prophetic sign to anyone watching. They all knew it had never rained before, they may not have had the word ‘rain’ yet, because the ground was watered with dew and underground springs. How was this not enough to make them question or ask God about it? Yet it seems that not anyone was curious or confused; they did not let it bother them. Matthew 24:37- 39 “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” These people were not concerned about their sin, the state of humanity, the violence on earth, or repentance. They were conducting their lives in a “business as usual” tone. This scripture passage shows that no one was begging Noah for a ride on the ark. They were unaware of their destruction or in apathy towards Noah and the sign of the ark. If anyone else had been grieved by the state of the earth, they would have been on the ark too. God showed mercy to Noah and humanity through the ark. God could have sent the flood and been just in his judgment wiping out all life (Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death”). Instead he extended this olive branch to humanity.

If Noah built the ark today it would be polarizing. It would cause movements, church splits, protests, followers, revival, fighting, and everyone would take a side. I just don’t think something as dramatic as “the end of humanity” and destruction of earth was a calm, quiet, or ignorable subject. What was wrong with those people? They must have all thought Noah was insane. It certainly was not a structure that would have been easily hidden (by say a giant forest that springs up from the final seed remaining from Eden- the movie again). The ark was a sign of judgment and salvation. Perhaps humanity had lived so long by that point they didn’t actually believe they could die. People were recorded as living hundreds of years during those times. There is even speculation among some bible scholars that the idea of lesser deities was born during that time as children watched their parents age to unbelievable ages and seem indestructible by time. That’s right ladies and gents- this Bible era helped spawn mythology that later led to Thor and his mighty hammer.

Back to Noah’s Character…

Hebrews 11 talks about Noah as a son of righteousness through grace by faith. God gave Noah the opportunity and who knows how many others ignored God’s words spoken to them. We are only told about Noah. What if others heard the voice and had dreams or visions of the coming destruction?

God sent them into the ark seven days before the rains and shut the door behind them (Genesis 7:7-10, 16). It was God’s choice not to allow any last minute beggars onto the ark. Noah is not responsible for anyone else’s death. He was completely obedient. Hebrews 11:7 even says he carried out his duties with godly fear. The man Noah was far from being against anyone. Rather than God being disappointed by Noah but willing to try again with humanity after Noah “lacked the strength” to kill the only girls able to conceive new children (the movie again), God actually blessed the families once they were off the ark telling them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1). It was his repeated blessing first given to Adam and Eve in the garden.

Furthermore, the situation in the movie between Ham and Noah that created a falling out was not Noah’s fault. In reality, Noah did not prevent Ham from marrying or repopulating the earth. He also was not the one who ruined their father/son relationship. Ham was cursed because he saw his father drunk and told his brother’s to come look (Genesis 9:22). He was inappropriate and disrespectful, while his brothers refused to look on his nakedness and covered him. The movie shows Ham being disgusted by his savage father who has gone too far to be someone he can be around. In reality, it was Ham who did something wrong. Note: Ham was actually the youngest son and not the middle as in the movie.

The ruining of Noah’s reputation was not lost on the actor Russell Crowe who played the movie character. Even he put down Noah. You can watch this clip. He openly insults Noah and indicates that people should view the ancient Noah through his movie character portrayal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkTJm32bODs

God’s Reputation Ruined

This movie also opened the door for extreme criticism and misunderstanding of God. Bill Maher spoke the most harshly about God as depicted in the movie Noah. He called him a “psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it and his name is God.” Sadly, this was among many other terrible comments. *Warning of foul language* http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/03/15/bill-maher-you-know-the-noah-movie-is-bad-when-god-is-a-bigger-dck-than-russell-crowe/

The filmmaker from “Finger of God” was also greatly bothered by the depiction of God in the movie. “In Noah, Aronofsky’s view toward God is made abundantly clear. This is a God who, if He exists, is distant, unemotional, strict and unbending. He is a God who almost relishes the chance to destroy humanity for its sins. The ending is particularly problematic, and without spoiling anything, it is problematic because you are left with the question of who is more merciful: God or Noah? The real life answer is, of course, God, who is the most merciful, loving Person in the universe. But in this movie’s universe, the question lingers.”

“The Bible is important to us because it is a gift from God—a way for Him to reveal Himself to us. When you change the very essence of one of the stories in there, which in turn causes our God to look horrible and goes in the opposite direction of who He really is, then of course people are going to get upset.” http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/43350-finger-of-god-filmmaker-to-noah-director-you-misrepresented-god

Hearing from God

I have heard from fellow Christians who say Noah’s struggle represents a real-life one. Interpreting messages from God can be tricky and provoke doubt and misdirection. Perhaps, but this is not part of the story of Noah. In the movie, he is given confusing dreams and visions that he must puzzle together to find meaning. In the Bible, God speaks directly to him. There is no angel, no dream, no vision, and no confusion. We are told “And God said to Noah” concerning building the ark in Genesis 6:13. Genesis 7:1 says “Then God said to Noah” when he was told to go into the ark with his family and the animals seven days before the rains. Meanwhile, Noah did all of this that indicates he heard and understood the instructions clearly. Why do we make controversy and insert “lack of hearing and clarity” issues into the text and storyline? This dilemma given Noah is so serious that it opened the door to undermine the character of both God and Noah. God looks extremely uncaring and distant in the movie because he will never speak to or answer Noah.

Methuselah is cray-cray

I really began this narrative review with every intention of being respectable and serious but the deeper I get the more the ridiculously out of line elements of this movie overwhelm me. In short, there was a long list of what the heck moments involving Methuselah. I couldn’t believe the representation of him first off because I thought the oldest man ever recorded would have been given some props and respect. Instead, he was portrayed as a bonkers witch doctor who obsessed about berries, was swept away in the flood and didn’t care (who foresees the prophecy and doesn’t ask for a ride on the ark?!?!), lived alone in a cave as an outcast, and had become very weird in his isolation. The meaning of his name alone meant he needed a prominent place in the story. His name means “man of the dart/spear” and/or “his death shall bring judgment.” The movie emphasized the first meaning showing him as a great warrior who protected the rock people watchers from the humans. This first showing of him revealed his access to supernatural elements. His fire sword releases a wall of fire (another unbiblical element that makes you question the source of all these powers he possesses). Every church sermon I ever heard emphasized the second meaning. The oldest man ever recorded grew to be so old because his death would usher in judgment and God waited hoping to spare humanity.

The movie doesn’t show much of a warrior, it mostly shows something of a madman. Noah receives his vision of saving the animals from the flood after Methuselah spikes his tea with something hallucinogenic. He also seems to put a spell on his grandson to make him rest. I was surprised that he perished in the flood because I am used to the reading that says he dies before the flood. Scriptures indicate he died and the writing of it is so unspectacular that one would assume it was natural causes. Methuselah’s witchcraft aside, the most upsetting part for me was that he died in the flood. Why make that happen? Why was searching for berries his final mission? Couldn’t he have been respectfully said goodbye to in bed? Even crazy Yoda was treated better.

Visuals

I was hoping to see more dramatic footage for the actual flood. They gave a longer and more dramatic scene to the fake growing of the trees to build the ark than the flood. I wanted to see whales swimming by, animals drowning, underwater shots of trees, mountains, homes being swallowed. I wanted underwater detail. Seriously, where was my freakin’ whale?! Even cartoon versions of Moses parting the Red Sea show a whale! Of all the times to give less graphic detail, the flood itself was the reason I came to watch. This was the moment to blow their big Hollywood budget and leave everything on the table. This story is about animals of every kind ascending in an orderly way to an ark and a giant flood that burries everything else. All of the drama was pushing for that moment and it should have been the most intense in the movie. Instead the flood was interrupted by a fight scene, the “angels returning home to heaven”, and a great deal of attention given to people screaming on a mountain top once the waters had risen high. Considering the false green themes of an industrialized world were given so much screen time, I had higher hopes for the flood itself.

Things I outright want to make fun of:

1) What a cool pregnancy test they had in ancient times. I wish my spit would shine like gold!

2) What were those weird exploding rocks?! I couldn’t figure out if they were the innards of the rock people or something else.

3) The snakeskin they took from the deceiver snake and made into a positive symbol?! In the Garden of Eden, they show man being distracted by shed snake skin while woman was busy being deceived and throwing the earth into darkness. Now we know why Adam never stopped her, fascination with snake skins. Shouldn’t that have become an upsetting article of history rather than something Noah was to receive as his birthright from his father?

4) What was up with the herbs they burnt to create hibernation smoke? The scene made them look like catholic priests blessing the ark and animals. Too many weird extra biblical items that just creep out or comically absorb the storyline.

The BEST explanation I found for what happened with this movie:

Aronofsky’s Noah: a panoply of Jewish paganism: http://americanvision.org/10440/aronofskys-noah-a-panoply-of-jewish-paganism/#sthash.iow7nzRD.C85Ebytj.dpbs

Gnosticism from Jewish Kabbalah roots dictated this script http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil

Another Voice on Noah:

Matt Walsh wrote a blog about the movie that bears repeating in several aspects. First off he points out “Christians: you’ll hear people insist that you can’t criticize the movie until you’ve seen it. Noticeably, the loudest voices in this camp are the ones who will (rather coincidentally, I’m sure) profit immensely if you meet their challenge.”

Concerning the pastors who endorsed this film he wrote, “Pay a little closer attention. If you do, you’ll see a tale that entirely perverts the nature of God, while flipping sin and immorality on its head. Aside from a brief glimpse of something that appeared to be either rape or cannibalism, wickedness is portrayed as mostly a matter of eating meat and mining the earth for resources. Noah — a righteous man in the Bible — is stripped of his righteousness in favor of obsessiveness. God is stripped of any characteristics at all, apart from vindictiveness.”

“This movie is not an adaptation of anything at all. As far as I can tell, both Noah the Movie and Noah the Bible story have in common: a guy named Noah, a boat, some animals.” “If you’re looking for a movie more obviously inspired by Biblical precepts, go see anything else. Go see The Lego Movie. I’m sure even that will bear a closer resemblance to Scripture than emo Noah and his gang of Boulder Creatures.”

“If the movie studio wanted to spin a yarn about mythical beasts, epic battles, homicidal sea captains, and a pagan Earth god, they could have done so. They could have called it anything. They could have told their own story. But they called it Noah because they knew that the supposed connection to the Bible would garner immediate fascination. They knew there would be controversy, and controversy sells. They padded it with enough action movie clichés to draw interest from secular crowds, they hid the outright blasphemy well enough to please gullible Christian crowds, and they mocked Biblical theology blatantly enough to delight the critics. They came up with a way to make millions while exploiting the various sensibilities of different audience demographics.” http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/03/29/im-a-christian-and-i-think-noah-deserves-a-four-star-review/

Other Noah Articles:

Even God Couldn’t Save the Hollywood Version of Noah: http://www.haaretz.com/life/movies-television/1.582809

Noah Set to Flip the Biblical Script: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/03/11/noah-set-to-flip-the-biblical-script/

Glenn Beck saw Noah over the weekend and is calling it the ‘Babylonian Chainsaw Massacre’ http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/24/beck-saw-noah-over-the-weekend-and-hes-calling-it-the-babylonian-chainsaw-massacre/#

Movie Guide found fault with the creation of “the Watchers” and the new age elements, “the pyramid of strings (made by Methuselah, playing with Noah’s son); the re-occurring imagery of the one, all-seeing eye; the allusion to the third eye when the last demon rips open his chest, etc.” https://www.movieguide.org/news-articles/whats-wrong-with-noah.html

Ken Ham’s Warning of an unbiblical plot: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2013/11/19/dont-be-taken-in-by-the-noah-movies-promotion/

http://time.com/42274/ken-ham-the-unbiblical-noah-is-a-fable-of-a-film/

Noah banned in UAE for depicting a prophet: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/03/13/noah-film-banned-uae-qatar-bahrain-depicting-prophet/

This article talks about how the unbiblical rendition was probably not a profitable gamble: http://jameshirsen.com/unbiblical-noah-is-no-crowd-pleaser/

Atheist director brags Noah is the “least biblical film ever made” and calls it a “dark parable about sin, justice and mercy” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/24/atheist-noah-director-brags-film-least-biblical-bi/

7 Ways Noah Turns the Biblical Narrative Upside Down: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/03/28/7-ways-noah-turns-the-bible-upside-down/?singlepage=true

Many Christians think this movie was still positive because it made people curious about the biblical Noah. Clearly I feel the important details rendered this narrative too incorrect to produce fruit: http://www.andrewheard.tv/2014/03/28/a-pastors-perspective-on-the-noah-movie/

Theology debates about grace and Noah: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/43334-mark-driscoll-was-wrong-about-noah?utm_medium=MostPopularArticles_RightColBottom

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