EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Always keep the following in mind when reading someone’s (including my) review/commentary/opinion about a movie/a book/the Bible/anything: what you’re reading is simply some guy’s/gal’s opinion – an opinion that is based on the writer’s own world-views, convictions, & subjectivity. My son, Jordan, & I heard historian, Dr. Mike Licona (Ph.D) speak at TTU a year ago on the evidence in support of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Describing the ubiquitous “authority” available on the internet, Licona remarked, “Today, the only requirement one needs to be an ‘authority’ on the web is to be breathing.” Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” The answer to that question is the same today as it’s always been. In John 17, Jesus said to His Father, “…your word is truth.” (17:17) God’s Word: truth begins & ends there. Always weigh someone’s opinion (regardless of how good it may sound to you) against the single source of truth: the Word of God. The Bereans provide a great example of this. They knew that even Paul, writer of most of the New Testament, was just a man and, as such, fallible: Luke records in Acts:17:11 – [The Bereans] “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things [Paul was teaching] were so.” All of that said,….for those who care to know, here are my thoughts after viewing “Noah” this past weekend. (I’ve purposefully waited until “opening weekend” was over to post my thoughts/opinion so as to “let the dust clear” a little.)) WARNING: spoilers ahead.
1. ACTING: I thought the acting was extremely good. A lot of folks don’t seem to like Russell Crowe, but I’m such a “Gladiator” (2000) fan, I love him. And my son, Jordan, had a crush on Emma Watson, so I tend to love her as well.
2. MOVIE EXPERIENCE (if you have no regard for biblical truth): Excellent. My family LOVES going to the movies. What you have in “Noah” is a combination of “Lord of the Rings” (the fallen angels of Gen. 6 were Aronofsky’s version of the “Ents” – think: “Treebeard” in Movie #2 of the trilogy), “Transformers”, “Titanic”, “Mad Max”, & “Waterworld”, with a little bit of the biblical account of Noah thrown in. And, as a bonus, Methuselah is portrayed as a sort of newest member of “The Avengers.” By the way, as far as movie-making goes, I think Aronofsky is very talented.
3. ARTISTIC LICENSE: “Artistic license”, apparently, is a pseudonym not only for (1) filling in the “blanks”, i.e. periods of time not mentioned, and (2) bringing personal interpretation to events/topics that are clearly subject to interpretation, but also for (3) “re-writing the script.” I’ll address No’s 1 & 2 here, and No. 3 in the next section. No one knows (to list a few things) what the ark looked like exactly, in what manner exactly the animals entered the ark, what the flood actually looked like, how many threats to his life Noah received from marauding tribes, how “God shut the ark door,” or if Noah had mental breakdowns. So, I had no problem how these, and other like topics of Genesis 6-9 were portrayed (especially by a guy who’s a self-professed atheist). As a matter of fact, I thought Aronofsky did a wonderful job on these aspects of the story. If “artistic license” had stopped with these “nobody knows what these events looked like” parts of the movie, it would’ve been fine. But it didn’t.
4. REWRITING THE BIBLE: Just a few chapters before we ever hear of Noah, we have another scene in our Bible. In Genesis 3:1, we join Eve & the serpent in what seems like mid-conversation. Jesus, Himself, described Satan (the one personified in the serpent) as a liar…the “father of lies.” (John 8:44). And, in Genesis 3, we all get a front-row seat to see how deceptively slick satan is at “rewriting God’s Word”. It’s simple really. He includes just enough truth to make it sound right, and he then either adds to, subtracts from, or slightly twists/bends the “original script” so that his re-writing is almost undetectable. It bothers me that Islam is more protective of their Quran than some Christians are of our Bible (had something like this happened with a story from the Quran, there would’ve been outrage.) For example, I read one disappointing review from a solid Christian web site by an author who argued that we shouldn’t be so quick to criticize this movie since “Christians don’t ‘own’ the story of Noah.” I couldn’t agree more – we don’t “own” the story. But, neither does he, nor anyone else on this planet. The story of Noah is part of the canon of holy Scripture. It is not to be trifled with, added to, changed, twisted, or altered. “Every word of God is flawless,” wrote Solomon (Proverbs 30:5; cf. 2 Samuel 22:31) In yet another disappointing blog, the editorialist, using John 20:30 (“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book”), argued that these other (clearly non-biblical) aspects of Aronofsky’s movie could’ve actually happened since John wrote that there’s a lot of stuff that happened we don’t know about. But what the editorialist fails to do is to keep reading John’s gospel. In the very next verse (vs 31), John writes, “But these (events/words) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” In other words, God chose what he wanted in His “script” – nothing more, nothing less. Changing His script is not only disrespectful, but foolish. (cf. Revelation 22:18:21) I must confess, many of the reviews I’ve read by Christians (some who are “scholars”) have made me wonder, “Did they see the same movie I saw?” Because while they spend their time defending “artistic license”, they fail to state the most glaring – and obvious – issue: the writers re-wrote the biblical story of Noah. There are too many examples of “re-writings” to list here. But here are just a handful. Unlike what was portrayed in “Noah”, the Bible never mentions, nor implies that: (1) Methuselah was a super-hero, (2) the fallen angels [Rock People] were offered redemption, (3) there was a threat of human sacrifice on the ark, (4) man’s “sin” was against the “earth” instead of against “God’s righteousness,” (5) there was a command from God to Noah to rid the entire earth of mankind after the flood subsided. In fact, the opposite is true, (6) there were “stowaways” on the ark, or (7) Noah’s sons were not married when they entered the ark; both the Old & New Testaments affirm something completely different from what’s portrayed here in the movie, (cf.1 Peter 3:20); the Bible clearly records that the same eight people entered & exited the ark; those eight people are Noah, his wife, their three sons & their wives, But, the worst “re-writing of the Original Script” was yet to come, clearly communicated at the end of the movie. But, before I address that issue, I want to say that I have total respect for Aronofsky. In an interview with the Washington Post he told us that “Noah” was “the most unbiblical biblical movie ever made.” Aronofsky was honest. And he was right. (Washington Times; 3/24/14)
5. GOD IS GOD – NOT NOAH/MAN: It started in Eden – man’s notion that he/she knows better than God. Satan convinced Adam & Eve to tell God to “shove off, we know best.” Satan is a brilliant strategist, and his strategy/methods are no different today than they were in Eden. Reflecting on a non-biblical scene in the movie when Noah has decided that Ila’s (Emma Watson’s) twin girls will be killed so as to follow through with God’s command to rid the earth of mankind (again, this command doesn’t exist in the Bible), Noah is downtrodden since he couldn’t follow through with God’s execution command, allowing the girls to live. Ila, attempting to encourage Noah, tells him, “Don’t you see, God let you decide what was right and what was wrong.” (i.e. either rid the world of mankind, or allow the babies to live and help repopulate the earth.) And Satan sits back and thinks to himself, “Times have changed since Eden. But people remain the same; they want to be God and, in this movie, I’ll suggest that they can be.” Satan’s goal is to convince us to live our lives apart from God. He wants us to believe we’re inherently “good/righteous” before a holy God, able to decide for ourselves what is right & wrong/good & evil, and entirely capable of running things with – or without – God. But Paul wrote, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away,…there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:20-21) Furthermore, the only thing that is different today from the time of Genesis 6-9, in regard to man’s wickedness, is God’s promise to never again wipe out the earth because of our wickedness. Mankind, today, is every bit as capable of the wickedness of Noah’s day. Centuries after Noah & the flood, Jeremiah wrote, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,and desperately wicked.” (Jer. 17:9) And Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts…” (Matthew 15:19) We’re made “righteous” through faith, alone, in the righteousness of Christ, alone. (Eph. 2:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20) The author of Hebrews reminds us that “faith, alone” in God is what gave Noah his status of righteousness. (cf. Hebrews 11:7) Noah’s obedience & righteous living was simply evidence of his faith in God. Without faith in Jesus Christ, in His redemptive work for us, we’re sunk. Which is why the next section is so very important in understanding Aronofsky’s interpretation of the story of Noah.
6. A CHRIST-LESS BIBLE: Bottom line, what we have in “Noah” is a motion picture without Jesus Christ in view. And that changes the entire Bible story. Before you respond, “Jesus isn’t even mentioned in Genesis 6-9!”, please know….I know that. But hear the words of Jesus, Himself: to the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said, “….these very [Old Testament] Scriptures testify about Me!” (John 5:39) Again, in Luke’s gospel account, the resurrected Jesus explains to two sad travelers – who are trying to make sense of Christ’s crucifixion – that the entire Old Testament points to Him, and that God’s redemption of sinful mankind came through His crucifixion & resurrection: “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27) Both of these statements by Jesus include “the writings of Moses”, which includes the story of Noah. It’s been said by scholars, “Christ is in the Old Testament concealed, and in the New Testament revealed.” The story of Noah, without being read in the greater context of all 66 books of the Bible, ends up being a very sad, almost hopeless, story about an enigmatic, cruel, psychotic God. One must read the greater context (the rest of the Bible). Because what you’ll find is that, centuries later, as prophesied through Isaiah, God would give us all an up-close view of who He is: the God who not only cares, but cared enough to “put skin on” and enter into the “horribly dark world” Noah endured – the horribly dark world we all now endure – and provide a way back to Him through faith, alone, in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, which God authenticated by means of Christ’s resurrection. Genesis 6-9 is but a small “paragraph” of God’s “love letter” to mankind. Noah’s story, alone, is a “horrible day.” But, a king named David would later write, “For [God’s] anger is but for a moment,….Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
7. DO I RECOMMEND SOMEONE SEEING THE MOVIE? If you want to have credible dialogue with a friend(s) who’ve also seen the movie, yes! If you want to learn more about the story of Noah, no. Read the book. It’s much better.
FINAL WORD: I’m no authority (as pointed out at the beginning). I’ve tried to offer commentary that is respectful to opposing opinions, as well as to Aronofsky.