Darren Aronofsky’s Noah was a movie I was unsure about when I first saw the trailer. Why is everyone white? What’s Emma Watson doing in biblical times? But then I got kind of excited about it: an epic movie about the Bible, not a cheesy one meant to pull at your heartstrings? (I’m looking at you, Son of God.) Sign me up.
Then the reviews started pouring in. It was received well among critics, but my Facebook friends list had other ideas. It was unbiblical, the director had no business taking the liberties that he did, no Christian should see it, etc. Bloggers and reviewers posted scathing reviews, calling it “sinister” and “anti-Christian” and criticizing the atheist’s director.
My parents liked it. I wasn’t too surprised at that, being that they tend to go against the flow of what most evangelical Christians think about things. I trusted their judgment, so I wanted to see it. I even posted a clip from Jon Stewart criticizing people who didn’t like that it was biblical with the disclaimer that I hadn’t see it (and the clip is pretty funny and on point, as Stewart always is).
Well, I finally saw it myself on Tuesday. It was not what I was expecting. At all. I thought there’d be a few things off from the story. There are quite a few parts of the story, though, that can’t be found in the Bible. As far as I know, they’re not in rabbinical writings, either. I know this is what annoyed many believers — they wanted a book to screen adaptation without any interference.
I kept thinking, “This is weird”, but I found myself liking certain parts of it. I liked that the fallen angels were incorporated into the story. I liked the romance between Noah’s son and the girl Noah and his wife adopted. I liked the barren landscape the family trekked across. I liked the conflict with Ham, who felt alone, and with Ila’s barrenness. The battle scenes kept me on the edge of my seat; the corruption of men and women had me understanding’s God choice; and all the characters had drive and motivation.
Once they were on the boat, though, the story really slowed down. It was full of false conflict — will Noah kill everyone? We know the answer to that, but they still tried to make things dramatic. It came off as melodramatic and theatrical instead. I was much more interested in the storyline with Ham and Tubal-Cain. I left the theater thinking the movie could have been thirty minutes shorter.
There was one main thing, theologically, I had issues with. For example, the idea that the Creator gave Noah the choice to decide whether humans were worth saving. Really? Why would the Creator put the fate of beings he made in his own image into the hands of one man? It’s a hard pill to swallow. The fate of man is in the Creator’s hands, not the hands of some human. He wanted humans to survive so we could start anew. He had a plan for Noah’s line: to birth Abraham, to make a covenant with him, and to choose Israel as his chosen people.
There were also theological differences that I didn’t have a problem with at all. No, nobody ever said God. (I think Jon Stewart must have been referencing to a scene in the trailers, because I don’t remember that line in the movie. And I was watching for it.) But aside from Aronofsky’s strange choice to say Noah would decide the fate of the last humans, it’s pretty clear who is in charge. The Creator. Men think they’re in charge, but that’s our way, isn’t it? Thinking we rule our own fates.
The Creator never spoke directly to Noah. Instead, Noah has dreams, premonitions, and he visits his grandfather, Methuselah, for guidance. I’m not sure why Aronofsky went with this instead, but I appreciated the choice. It’s rare today that God speaks directly to any of us. We can’t hear his voice as clearly as we can someone standing right next to us.
This choice felt like it an effort to bring the story onto our level. The Bible is full of stories where we say, “That never happens today.” Who knows why? It could be our lack of faith, but whatever the reason, we don’t often get black-and-white directions from the heavens. So, I liked that choice. I liked that Noah heard from God in subtle ways, but he was still confident in what he had to do. He believed without seeing the Creator.
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~John 20:29
And one last thing: my favorite part of the whole movie was the sequence of creation from Noah’s story in the ark. It’s too new of a movie to have too many clips online, but that was an awesome part. It showed all of creation coming into being from the voice of the Creator: the stars, the planets, the waters, the animals, and finally, mankind, created in his image. Whatever our flaws and corruption, we are created in his image, and this was not a point the movie left out. We have his love, our souls are eternal, and like him, we can create. Even if it’s a movie that a lot of people hate.