Movie Review: Noah
That pretty well sums up the movie. Any questions? Alright, I’ll offer a bit more detail.
Last week my wife and I went to see the new Noah movie. I was certainly curious to see it first-hand, but I also felt an obligation to do so, especially considering how many people wanted me to write a review. I am not at all interested in supporting Hollywood, but I would feel uncomfortable in offering my commentary not having actually seen it myself.
The name of the main character in the Noah movie was… “Noah”, which is the exact same name of the actual main character in the biblical account of the flood. The producer got that 100% correct. I don’t think you could be more accurate than that. It was amazing how accurate it was. They really did their research on this one! But that’s about the only similarity between the two stories. (I’m being a bit facetious, but I think you get the point.) It somewhat reminds me of the epic play/movie, “Inherit the Wind”, which was based on the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. It has been said that if you want to know what actually happened during that history-making trial, just watch the movie and assume the opposite about everything you see!
Hollywood is not in the business of helping the general public learn more about the Bible or championing its values, so I certainly didn’t expect this to be an exception.
I am offering my commentary in two parts. The first part will be key elements of the movie that varied from the true biblical account. The second part will be my concerns with movies like this regarding how they affect the general public and the average Christian. It is not my intention to comment on every part of the movie… just enough to give you an idea of what it was like.
So many contradictory messages… not just within the movie, but even regarding the claims about the movie.
Consider this, taken directly from the official movie website (NoahMovie.com):
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”
This is far from being true! Even the producer, Darren Aronofsky, stated that, “Noah is the least biblical biblical film ever made.” I highly doubt that most people will be aware of this as they view the movie.
Then we have the opinion from the movies co-writer, Ari Handel:
"What I’d tell people is it’s very important to us that nothing we actually did directly contradicted the Genesis story. There are some places where people think we did, and I’d just say, 'We didn’t.”
Who are we to believe? If you see the movie, the answer will be self-evident.
As I watched from the beginning, I couldn’t help but wonder when the actual “Noah” story was going to begin. It was so strange and so “dark”, my wife and I kept looking at each other and rolling our eyes. It seemed as though Noah and his family were living on some deserted planet, absent of any real beauty. In reality, God’s original creation must have been unimaginably beautiful, and even after Adam and Eve sinned, it still would have been quite breath-taking, but you wouldn’t know that from the film.
By the way, God is not mentioned in the movie… only “the creator”. A minor point you might say, but it turns out to be very significant when you consider the pagan and mystical underpinnings of the entire film. For more information on this (and a review from a very different and fascinating angle, see Dr. Brian Mattson’s review here.)
It doesn’t take long for the viewer to realize that much of the script didn’t come directly from Genesis. We see early on, mystical “rock creatures” who are apparently fallen angels that were cast down to Earth and confined to lava-like rock bodies. They later help protect Noah and aid in building the ark. For these benevolent deeds, God (sorry, “the creator”) releases them from their earth-bound bodies and transports them back to heaven. I think you can find those details in the Bible in 2 Hesitations chapter 13. (more facetiousness.)
The Bible clearly states that the reason for the flood was because of the wickedness of man.
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:5-8)
However, the overriding theme of the entire movie is… environmentalism. Extreme environmentalism. Aronofsky freely admits this…
“It’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist.”
Why build an ark? Of course it was to save a remnant of mankind, along with representatives of all the animals, right? Everybody know that… right? Not according to Aronofsky. It was to save the innocent animals. God was done with people. He just chose Noah, not because he was righteous as Scripture states, it was because he could “get the job done” – a direct quote from Russell Crowe in the movie as he played Noah.
Noah himself is portrayed as a fairly dark, somewhat evil character who doesn’t care about humanity. He shows no compassion for all those who will perish and does nothing to urge them to change their ways or come onto the ark for salvation. At one point in the movie, Ham (one of Noah’s son’s) is trying to make it back to the ark as the flood waters are released, bringing with him a female acquaintance who also wants to “get on board”. Unfortunately, she gets snared in a trap along the way. Noah comes along to help Ham return to the ark, but does nothing to save the girl, showing no sympathy whatsoever. This is blatantly the opposite of what we know from the Bible. The real Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) and someone described as “blameless…” (Genesis 6:9).
Much worse than this, however, is the defamation of God’s character. The way the plot unfolds, as dark and uncaring as Noah seems to be, he is portrayed as being more merciful and caring than God himself! (Sorry, “the creator”)
In the vision that Noah has regarding the flood, he gets the message that humanity is not to survive… only the animals. He deceives his family when he conveys the dream, giving them the false hope that they will survive and be solely responsible for the continuance of the human race. He eventually reveals to them the truth of the dream (but not until after they’re on board and it’s too late for them to do anything about it).
Another area straying from the biblical account is that those on the ark consist of Noah, his wife, their 3 sons and only one other girl, who is “connected to” (not necessarily married to) the eldest son, Shem. The other two boys, Ham and Japheth… they’re out of luck. It shouldn’t really matter, however, because they are not to procreate after the flood anyway. In the biblical account, each of the three sons has a wife.
One related plot twist… while on the ark, Shem’s “significant other” finds out that she is pregnant. They want to hide it from Noah, because they know it won’t go over well with him, to say the least. Noah does find out and declares that if she has a boy, it can live and be the last human on Earth. If it is a girl, he will kill it at birth! Fast forwarding... she does give birth… to twins… twin girls! Noah is outraged and determines to kills them immediately. At the last minute, struggling to obey “the creator”, he relents, claiming to see “good” in them and allows them to live. In this light, Noah is portrayed as being more merciful than the creator.
Another bizarre twist to the plot (and certainly not biblical) is the fact that Tubal-Cain (the main villain of the movie) sneaks on board through a hole he cuts as the flood waters inundate the Earth. Ham, one of the sons who doesn’t have a “wife” isn’t too happy with his dad and schemes along with Tubal-Cain to kill him.
Countless other examples could be given, but these examples should suffice to give you a good enough picture of what the movie is all about. The overall message… mankind is evil, but plants and animals are good.
Once again, not expecting this movie to be true to the Bible or to paint God in a good light, the preceding elements came as no surprise to me. My biggest concern lies along the lines of what I wrote in my pre-release commentary which I will summarize here.
The non-Christian world, while not having any real allegiance to the Bible, is often still very curious about what it conveys. Going to a movie such as Noah, allows them to not only enjoy a very popular form of entertainment (movie-going), but also learn a little bit more of what this “Bible stuff” is all about. The obvious danger is that they will, for the most part, be quite unaware that much of what they see is not really biblical. And the tendency will always be to put the Bible and God in a much more negative and derogatory light, resulting in the non-believer being even further from taking the Bible seriously than before.
However, I feel a potentially even greater danger is the reaction of the Christian viewer. They too may see the movie and think to themselves, “Wow, I didn’t know that’s how that happened. That’s really interesting.” We too often “learn” about the Bible from watching movies, videos, reading books, magazines articles, etc. as opposed to actually reading the Bible itself. I’ve been guilty of that myself. We can certainly learn from these sources, if we are careful as to the beliefs of the authors and producers, but we always need to check everything against Scripture, like the Bereans…
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)
Should You See the Movie?
Not that you need my permission to go, but I will briefly share my two cents.
There are certainly many reasons not to see the movie… its great departure from the biblical account, supporting Hollywood, its radical environmental agenda, roots in mysticism and Gnosticism, etc. However, there are also a few reasons why you might decide to go despite these concerns.
Many of your friends, Christian and non, will be going and it will give you a good platform to talk to them further about what the Bible really says about Noah and the flood. I would highly recommend not going if you’re just looking for a night out and something mindless to do. However, if you are looking for ways to share the Gospel message with those around you, seeing and discussing this movie is not necessarily a bad way of doing it. We need to be creative in finding ways to talk about the Bible and the Gospel in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity. Certainly, we never want to compromise our morals in doing so, but we do need to look for every opportunity that God brings our way. For example, if someone wanted you to go to the Mormon church one weekend, or to some humanist rally on environmentalism, you might consider agreeing to go, if they in turn agreed to go to church with you the next weekend, In doing so, you can show sincere interest in them as a person and not just being someone who is only interested in promoting your own agenda.
Be prepared! Before going to the movie, read Genesis 6-9 to learn what the Bible actually teaches about Noah and the flood (or to refresh your memory). Then re-read this passage after the movie to ensure you are in a good position to discuss it with others. If questions arise in your evangelism attempts that you are unable to answer… give let us know and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.
The overall point is that Christians should “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
As with all of our other articles, much more could be said about this, but if you have any questions at about this article or any other issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time. We'd love to hear from you! You can even arrange a FREE ENGAGEMENT at your church, school, conference or camp.
Jay Seegert (Co-Founder & Principal Lecturer, Creation Education Center)