“I have men at my back and you stand alone and defy me?”
“I’m not alone.”
This line alone from the trailer for Noah was enough to give me goose bumps. The film, released Friday March 28th, follows Noah and his family as they are called by God to build an ark to escape the global flood. They face opposition from outsiders as the threat of destruction looms. I was intrigued to see how Hollywood would treat a biblical story. Would it be true to the story found in Genesis 6?
The answer: No.
Great liberties are taken with the story. In building the ark, Noah is helped by “Watchers”, fallen angels that look like six armed rock monsters. Ham and Japheth are not given their own wives in the film. An entire subplot surrounds Shem’s wife Ila, played by Emma Watson, and her inability to have children. These are the changes that caused my Christian friends to label the Noah “worst movie ever.” However, let’s look a little deeper as to why these changes to the story were implemented.
When it comes to adapting biblical text, can we expect a non-believing director to treat the story with the same amount of respect that we as believers give it?
Of course not.
To director Darren Aronofsky, the story is no more than a myth, characters and settings he can change to fit his artistic vision. To ask an unbelieving, godless Hollywood to treat the Bible as absolute truth is unrealistic. With this in mind, I watched the film keeping an eye out for the good points. And there were many.
The first was in the films portrayal of God. Referred to as “The Creator”, he was portrayed as good, wise, forgiving, loving, and generous with second chances. In Noah, The Creator was Someone who deserved respect.
Additionally, I appreciated the film’s portrayal of creation.
While on the ark Noah tells his family the story of the 7 days of creation, during which Noah interjects frequently “it was good.” Noah also points out that the evil in the world was man’s fault, and theirs alone. This answered the question of why so many bad things were happening in the world. God created the world to be perfect, but it was humanity that messed it up. God was destroying earth, but only to give it new life.
The last point I want to point out was in the film’s villain, Tubal-Cain, portrayed by Ray Winstone. His character is known as evil because of his attempts to put himself equal with God.
“I am created in your image!” He shouts “Does that not make me your equal?”
He tempts Noah’s son Ham by telling him that as a man, he can do whatever he wants with all of creation, and with his own destiny. And for his actions Tubal-Cain is punished.
Noah is a beautifully made film, full of symbolism and amazing cinematography. I encourage you to watch the movie with both your believing and unbelieving friends, and have a good discussion afterwards.
(Spoiler alert) There is a rainbow at the end!