There are an abundant number of reviews available on the internet concerning the Noah movie. Here is a really optimistic one, here is a cautious one, here is an angry one, and here is a foaming at the mouth angry one. I add to these simply because I have received some questions about the movie from folks in my church and I expect to receive more questions in the coming days.
The current hubbub about this movie reminds me of one of my favorite jokes —
Q. What is brown and sticky? A. A stick.
You know what is the most biblical telling of the story of Noah (or Moses or Daniel or Jesus or Paul)? The Bible.
The moment you walk away from the Bible text you will become less biblical. Every time. That is not to say you should never make or see a Bible movie, just know that it is never going to be as good as the Book. (Biblical movies have long fallen short of mirroring the text. Look no further than The 10 Commandments and The Nativity Story.) No movie maker comes with the authority of God’s Word … not Daron Aronofsky, or Charleston Heston or Mel Gibson, or Mark Burnett or even Billy Graham. But if the movie takes you back to the text then it has done a service. If you ask the movie to do more than the text (for evangelism or for instruction) then we have messed up.
Some of my thoughts —
The story of Noah fascinates us. It is the animals, the ark, the flood, the dove, the rainbow, the earth starting over. Our curiosity runs wild. What did Noah think? What did Mrs. Noah think? What did his neighbors think? How difficult was it to get that building permit? It is no surprise that this movie has generated tons of conversation.
The story of Noah also touches on deeper issues such as the spiritual brokenness of the world, a believer’s obedience in the face of global rebellion, God’s response to sin run wild, and ultimately to God’s grace. I am grateful for how the movie took these issues seriously and helped us think them over.
The movie did a great job of painting the picture of what it would be like to live is such a broken world that God has had enough with it. We sense Noah’s isolation from the rest of the world as he stands out as the one who found favor in God’s eyes. I have always felt this statement was that Noah alone was righteous in his day. (1) The scenery is barren and hard. Every encounter with those outside his family is dangerous and wrought with violence.
The intensity of God’s judgment is powerfully displayed as the population suddenly realizes their doom and storms the ark. As the ark begins to float, Noah’s family hears the anguish and screams of a world population drowning. It could not have been an easy experience for them. (It may be one of the reasons Noah later abused the fruit of the vine.)
Unlike some, I had no problem that God was referred to as the Creator not as God. God is the Creator of all life. That is how Noah knew God at this time. Keep in mind that God is not revealed to Moses as YHWH for a few more centuries. I did not like the time lapse sequence of Creation that was completely evolutionary in nature up until the creation of man. (I am surprised I have not heard more complaints about this.)
Some of the issues in the movie come from the verses in Genesis 6.1-4 that lead up to the story of Noah. These relate to the Nephilim, who are described as the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of man. These offspring are known as the mighty men of old, the men of renown. Over the years I have read many, many different explanations of who these characters were. Some explanations are better than others, none of them perfect…some of them pretty crazy. The rock people in the movie are another attempt to address this question. They are not my choice and are highly Hollywoodized but they are responding to something in the text.
I did find the imagery profound, related to the rock people/Nephilim/Watchers and later to Noah, that they had became “encrusted by this world”. What a powerful picture of the Image of God being buried and nearly lost beneath the grime of this world. If you were to take just one thing from this movie, this may be it.
What I did not like about the movie was the completely fabricated second half of the movie. The movie ignores the very clear narrative of the text to create a crisis that did not exist. Granted the writers needed to find something to fill the months and months of simply floating. How many hands of UNO do you think they played on the Ark? (Considering their circumstances they more likely played DOS.)(2) There were plenty of questions and issues that could have been explored in these scenes that did not invent a new story that ignores the very fact that God already answered this particular question in the text. I found this quite annoying. (Just ask Susan).
Should you see the movie? If you want to, sure. Just read Genesis 1-9 before you go and after you get back. Likely you will end up thinking more deeply about the story than you have in a long time.
(1). This maybe be slightly debatable from the text, but if Methusulah is also righteous then I would assume he would be on the boat too. Maybe he is too old, but I wouldn’t expect him to be swept away in the flood. According to the genealogies, Methuselah lives at least till the year of the flood.
(2). Two by Twos…get it? DOS.