Noah way to treat a biblical epic
(A non-partisan view on the Russell Crowe movie “Noah” I do wish to say, there are spoilers in this text so please if you plan on watching the movie, certain plot lines are revealed below, please take caution if you read below and plan to be “surprised” by the film)
I do not always toe the “party line” on Christian movie reviews
Let me say first and foremost that I do not subscribe to the many blogs and sites that are Christian based but bash Christian publications and movies because of reasons such as they do not fit what their finite view of something that is either biblical, spiritual, Christian or Jewish history. If they are discussing movies or motion pictures, most of the things they pick on really do not change the plot of the production or take away the greater meaning of what the director was trying to achieve.
However, that being said I sat down on Wednesday evening to watch Noah; I paid $1.39 at Redbox because although I wanted to see it, me and my family only trek to the movies for movies we really want to see. As stated previously I was free of most of the pre conceived notions that others of my faith had of this movie. I of course have seen headlines of articles that refer to the movie, some praising the movie, others slamming the movie. When i sit down to watch a movie about the bible I ask myself two questions.
1) Did the director stick to the story?
2) How misleading were any plot twists?
Obviously both secular and religious movies have had “Hollywood makeovers” and it is not picking on the bible to change the story somewhat to make the movie more “movie friendly” I have seen movies about historical hero’s that have had little twists thrown in, little historical embellishments or even a love interest that is not written in verifiable history.
Whilst that does annoy me as a “history buff” I don’t see myself writing 3000 word blog articles about those movies, and why is that? It is because I have never built my life upon a war journal from a dead general or sketchy history of Scottish clan chiefs or whether something actually happened the way it is portrayed on the big screen. Christian history, Jewish history and ones where we have biblical interest do have my interest to “get it right” and “nail the basics” because it has an impact of peoples view of a biblical story.
I and anyone who has a decent knowledge of the Bible will spot what is wrong with the movie almost instantaneously. However, someone who is watching this because they are curious about God and really don’t know what is going on theologically, they may have an issue and may put a barrier up based on unbiblical truths that they have seen on the big screen.
I plan to answer both 1) Did the director stick to the story? & 2) How misleading were any plot twists? Hand in hand in the next few points.
A) Creation – Fail
Not really, no – within seconds the film sets itself at odds with the biblical account by stating “in the beginning there was nothing” when Genesis 1:1 states the following:
Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
This lie is portrayed again when they are in the Ark, and Russell Crowe again repeats that “in the beginning there was nothing” and then we see a “creation montage and creation of the earth done in a fast forward motion which incorporates subtle but compelling ideas that creation and evolution go hand in hand, with fish jumping out of the sea, next second they are walking and birds doing likewise.
The idea that in the beginning there was nothing introduces the idea of a creator and a big bang working hand in hand and tries to fit science into a somewhat biblical account.
B) Noah has no idea why he is killing everyone
I have an issue with the way Noah comes off, he meanders through the film getting loose information that “the Creator” from memory, he is never actually called God is going to wipe all humankind off the planet, he does not know why and is guided by visions and dreams that the whole story is about God wiping us all out apart from the ones that Noah chooses to go on the Ark. Biblically this does not add up as we read in Genesis 6:
Genesis 6:5 (ESV) 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. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 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.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 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. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
In the biblical account Noah understood what God was doing because he spoke to him. Noah is told that “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. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”
This leads to confusion as how did the Shemite and Hamite people populate? The only two other females would have been Ham and Shem’s two nieces? This is an important question as from the Shemite people the nation of Israel came into being. In all reality it is not biblical and makes very little sense.
D) The inhabitants of the ark (animal kind)
When we see the animals converge on the ark, we see many more than is stated in the biblical account. (Remember it only had to be “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.” – Two of each kind, two cats, two dogs, two snakes) we have a scene where there are literally hundreds of snakes slithering into the Ark. It just does not make sense, the idea was to get the basic survival of the species onto a boat to allow it to continue post flood.
E) Where is the dove?
Genesis 8:4 (ESV) and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. 6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.
In the movie the raven is set forth before they hit land, the dove is sent after and we learn that land is ahoy.
F) Where is the vineyard?
Genesis 9:20 (ESV) Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.
In the scene where Noah gets drunk, he is in a cave on a beach, it is inferred that he got naked after being drunk, we do not see Ham telling his brothers, but they come and cover him up as we read in the scriptures not wishing to expose his father’s shame.
G) Where is the covenant with God?
Genesis 8:20 (ESV) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
There is no mention of a covenant with God; the closest we get is the passing on of a birthright in the last scene, inferred to be the serpent’s skin of the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve.
H) What was the point of the rainbow?
Genesis 9:13 (ESV) And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Again there is no mention of why the rainbow is there, it is just shown at the end of the movie. God is not mentioned and really has been removed in favor of a non-religious “Creator”
Curious moments in the movie that raised questions
In short the movie is very about the environment, the good people are vegetarians and the evil people are meat eaters and in one scene the stow away starts eating the animals (perhaps trying to account for missing species in today’s animal kingdom)
I wasn’t too happy with the way that Methuselah was present, as a somewhat pagan, magical old man that could fix Noah’s daughter in law’s barrenness by touching her, it is assumed that he dies in the flood also.
And the “Watchers” I am assuming that they were from the “Sons of God” but they state they came down and were punished by the creator, they were Transformer-lookalike stone creatures that limped around a lot and stood between the people and Noah’s family at the beginning of the flood and they exploded one by one and appeared to transcend into heaven, all very weird stuff!
What they did well
A) The fountains of the deep burst open
Genesis 7:11 (ESV) In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
In the scene where the earth becomes flooded, he water comes from above and below the earth; it was a decent visualization of how the earth became underwater very quickly. I was impressed by the visualization, it is up for debate whether it happened that way, but it is conceivable that it could, so that was well done.
B) Size of the Ark
Dimension wise, the Ark looked about as close as they could have got it, I was impressed by the fact that they did not buy into the myth that the Ark was a small boat and there was not enough room on the Ark.
C) Noah being drunk
Once Noah is found drunk, the actors who play Shem and Japheth cover Noah up and it was tastefully done, he then banished Ham.
D) Death and suffering
The idea of the death and suffering is evident and that was well done, when Noah is sailing off, we can see and hear people clinging to mountain tops and screaming when they are enveloped by the floods.
Should you see this movie?
That my friend is up to you. I would not promote or slam the movie. You will get as much theological insight by watching this movie as you will any other secular movie. Special effects wise, it is a decent movie. I just wish it did not fly in the face of something that I have built my life upon.
I would ask that you read the comments above, check out other reviews if you are still undecided after reading this, I would urge you that if you do watch it, keep your eyes and ears open for any errors. I reached for my bible at least 4/5 times to check things out. These are notes I made before I went to bed so there may be more issues than I remember. I certainly have not studied the film; I watched it once and felt neither closer nor further away from God for doing so.
I hope that this article finds you well, please prayerfully consider commenting, liking or sharing as the LORD leads