One Pastor’s Response to the film NOAH – Part 2

Noah Review Part 2 of 2

(PHOTO: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(PHOTO: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The first part of my Noah review can be found here. Following is a brief synopsis and then a discussion of some specific topics found in the movie Noah.

CAUTION!!! Spoilers Ahead!

In fact, If you are planning on seeing the movie…I would recommend STOPPING RIGHT HERE, go see the movie, and then come back and read this post. If you aren’t going to see the movie, then by all means read on.

 

Overview

Noah by Darren Aronofsky is a film that tells a story of Noah. Noah (the son of Lamech and the grandson of Methuselah) struggles to determine the “Creator’s” will and plan for himself, his family, mankind, creation, and the world as a whole. After visiting with “grandfather” Methuselah, he determines that an ark must be built because God will cleanse the earth with water (and in so doing, destroy all life). Conflict ensues with Tubal-cain (descendant of Cain of Cain and Abel) until the rains and floodwaters come. Noah still struggles to understand what he is supposed to do, and he concludes that it is the “Creator’s” will that mankind should not continue to exist. He must therefore do what is necessary to make certain that mankind does not procreate (this includes the necessity of murdering his twin granddaughters). The ark lands, there is more fighting between Noah and Tubal-cain (yes, there was a stow-away on the ark). And mankind lives happily ever after.

 

Specifics

Now I would like to talk briefly about some specific things in the movie that caught my attention. They aren’t all bad… (again, lots of spoilers…I don’t hold any back).

 

(In order of appearance)

1. Snake skin – The skin that snake in the garden shed (the movie shows this in Noah’s visions and his storytelling) is used as “blessing” from God. Lamech and Noah use it to commune with the “Creator” and to bless their children. This talisman seems to be used to “connect” to God. Tubal-cain kills Lamech and then keeps the skin in a pouch (consulting it on occasion) until Tubal-cain is killed and Ham takes until giving it back to his father.

2. Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) – This is the main “bad guy” in the movie. While Tubal-cain is a character mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 4:22), he takes center stage in this film and there will be plenty of reason for the audience to dislike him. He is introduced by killing Noah’s father, Lamech, and then responsible for leading as “king” the peoples of this region in all of their debauchery and sinful ways.

3. Noah (Russell Crowe) – Whereas the Bible describes Noah as a “righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9), this movie bounces back and forth and struggles to determine the character of its lead man. It’s apparent that Noah and his family are very environmentally conscientious. In fact, Noah chastises one of his sons for picking a flower (they didn’t “need” it). Multiple times Noah and his family speak of “man” in a negative light, as if his family was not even a part of mankind. Noah frequently seeks direction from the “Creator” (but so does the evil Tubal-cain). In the end, Noah fails miserably to understand the overall purpose of the flood. If I just watched the movie and had no knowledge of the Scripture, I would be very unlikely to call Noah “righteous.”

4. The vision – The night after Noah mysteriously sees a flower sprout from a single rain drop, he has his first elaborate dream of what the “Creator” was going to do…namely cover the earth with water. There is never really any “speaking to” as is described in Genesis 6:13. In the Bible God is very clear and very specific. In the movie, the “Creator” is anything but clear and specific. In fact, in the movie, Noah has to seek the guidance of Methuselah to determine what the “Creator” was directing him to do. Additionally, Scripture is very clear about how to build the Ark, but the movie gives no indication of such instructions.

5. The environment – Noah’s son is instructed that nothing should be picked unless it is needed (he picks a flower) and then Noah kills three men who shot a dog (maybe for food, but some argue even that would have been against God’s will at the time). On the journey to the mountain of Methuselah, the earth is displayed as barren and desolate place. There is no detailed description of the condition of the earth at the time of the flood, but it seems that the movie credits a major reason the “Creator” sends the flood as being environmental disregard. Later when Noah plants a seed from Eden, a new garden is created and again man threatens this miraculous paradise led by Tubal-cain.

6. The Watchers – This reveals one of the more interesting and even grievous additions to the the Flood account. When the family of Noah flees some raiders into the burnt territory of the mountain of Methuselah, they are encountered by large “rock creatures” that threaten them and even want to kill them. When I say “rock creatures,” think Neverending Story. These “giants” call themselves “the Watchers” and they tell a story of their origin that involves “watchers” (seemingly angels) that were sent by God during creation to look over that creation. These beings then “disobey” the “Creator” and are punished and encased in a lava-like crust of rock that makes them slaves on earth. They even have wing-like appendages that have become rock growing out of their back. They tell how they have begged the “Creator” to let them go back “home,” but He is unwilling. These “watchers” are set free (with the angelic beings going back to heaven) at the flood as they sacrifice themselves protecting the ark and Noah’s family. My only knowledge of angelic beings disobeying God are demons. I don’t see any other way to understand them. It is possible that these beings are the movie makers misinterpretation of the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4. These creatures also help build the ark the entire time. I called this grievous earlier because for a fallen angel to be servant of Noah is incredibly unbiblical.

7. “Absence of God” – This seems a good point to address the abundant focus on the absence of the use of the word “GOD.” It is true that the word “God” is not mentioned at all in the movie. But attention to God is given frequently, they people of the day simply call Him “Creator.” This does not offend me. God doesn’t give His name in the Bible until Moses encounters Him at the burning bush in the Exodus account. A primitive people calling God, the “Creator,” is fine by me. In fact, I like the emphasis. God does seem a little too distant in this film, especially with the title character. The Bible clearly says that God spoke to Noah, and this is glaringly missing from the movie.

8. Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) – The oldest recorded living human is seen numerous times in this film. He acts as an enchanter, putting Shem to sleep with a breath, and then giving a “tea” to Noah to help him have another dream. Later, he “blesses” Ila, Shem’s would-be wife (Emma Watson), healing her from her barrenness. He also acknowledges the “Creator,” but it is clear that he has supernatural powers of his own.

9. The seed of Eden – Methuselah gives Noah a “seed” from the Garden of Eden that will aid him in what he needs to prepare for the flood. We see Noah bury it, and then the next day a fountain of water gushes from that spot and out springs a massive forest (garden) by which they will have all the supplies to live and build the ark. The waters form a spring that extends a great distance and seemingly leads the animals to come to the ark.

10. The animals – The animals do come in abundance and two-by-two to the ark. Miraculous, and I have no real complaints. I can overlook the fact that they don’t mention God’s command to gather seven pairs of the clean animals as is mentioned in Genesis 7:2-3. I found it interesting that Noah and Mrs. Noah concoct an incense that puts all of the animals to sleep for months on end. It made finishing the ark much easier.

11. The ark, the door – The ark is impressive. It is massive and has several levels as is mentioned in Genesis 6:14-16. The door however is on its end and it is small enough for Noah to manage with a weight and pulley system. Genesis 7:16 says that “The LORD shut him in,” and I’ve always come to the conclusion that God shut the door.

12. The flood – The movies depiction of the actual flood is awe inspiring if not frightening! The rains come from above. The waters come from below. There is no escape. There is one moment after the waters had picked up the ark that some people were still clinging to it and a nearby mountain, that the screams of those perishing was quite unsettling. I couldn’t have imagined it any better.

13. The stow away – After battling a “watcher,” Tubal-cain manages to chop a hole in the side of the ark and stow away for the duration of the journey until they strike land.  This is so wrong it’s almost humorous! The movie makers clearly wanted to extend the action to the end of the movie and so they added this purely false chapter to the story.

14. Evolution – Just after beginning the journey on the ark, Noah tells the creation story. In the vision that his story tells the audience, there is clear depiction of evolutionary progression from one life form to another. They stop just short of man as a blinding light brings his creation.

15. The murderous plan – The movie could have tolerable if it weren’t for Noah’s murderous plot to rid the world of mankind. I must rewind briefly. Whilst still on land, Noah wandered into Tubal-cain’s camp to try and procure wives for his sons Ham and Japheth. There he sees all sorts of evils and sins and comes to the conclusion that mankind, even his own family, must be removed from the earth. His plot therefore consists of allowing his family to die off and not procreate. But then it is discovered that Shem’s wife is pregnant and not barren like previously thought. Noah then concludes that it is God’s will to murder the child if it is born a girl. This all presents multiple problems for me. 1)God seems to have been very clear about His intentions to Noah in the Biblical account. God is not just wiping out sinful man from the earth, He is also providing salvation and a remnant through Noah and his whole family (wife, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren). 2)In this, Noah fails to live up to the Biblical description of “righteous” and “blameless” and “walked with God.” Not only would a man that walks with God know the proper reason for the flood, but a “righteous” man would not want to kill his family.

16. Noah’s Family on the Ark – Those on the ark are Mr. and Mrs. Noah, Shem and his soon-to-be wife (who conceived before marriage by the way), and Ham, and Japheth. The assumed wives for the younger brothers are the unborn girl twins of Shem and his wife.

17. Ham (Logan Lerman of Percy Jackson fame) – Ham struggles with his father’s authority throughout the film. He argues about the need for a wife on more than one occasion. And he has a propensity to follow Tubal-cain on several occasions. Specifically when Tubal-cain hides in the depths of the ark, Ham helps conceal him. At the end of the ark journey, he even conspires with Tubal-cain to murder his father. Again, this extremely wrong! And unfortunately this story arcs presence is a distraction.

18. The life-raft – In anticipation of the murder of their child, Shem and his wife construct a life-raft to flee the ark on to escape Noah. In fact, the whole reason that a raven and doves are sent out to test for dry land is so that Shem and his wife can be more confident about leaving the ark and surviving. When Aronofsky decided to differ from the Scriptural account, he tended to go for the absurd.

19. Rest on a mountain – At the moment of the birth of the twin girls of Shem and the murder plot between Tubal-cain and Ham against Noah, the ark suddenly strikes the top of a mountain and lodges itself. Tubal-cain is then murdered by Ham

20. Drunken Noah – After Noah is unable to bring himself to murder his two granddaughters, he becomes a recluse and gets drunk in a cave which is symbolic of Genesis 9:20-25. Even though Shem and Japheth cover Noah, Ham is not cursed, but he does leave his family at this point being unable to forgive his father’s previous actions.

21. The Rainbow – The movie ends with a supernatural rainbow. I just wish we had rainbows like the one in this movie, it was pretty spectacular.

 

In conclusion

The movie definitely missed the big themes and truths of the Flood Account. Watching this movie, you will not understand exactly why God sent the flood and more importantly why God caused Noah to build the ark. Additionally, the numerous additions to the story are offensive to me. I found myself eager for the movie to end because I was so disappointed in the abuse of the story. Now, a couple hours looking back, I’m glad I saw it, but I have little to no desire to ever see it again.