It has been a rather interesting few years for the rise of biblical stories on the big screen. We have had The Passion of Christ, Exodus:Gods and Kings and Noah. There are often mix feelings about these films because they don’t tend to stick to scripture and they get people (Christians, mostly) quite frustrated.
So I watched the Noah film quite recently and I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts about the film. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comment box!
1. The fact they are creating films based on biblical narratives is good. The bible offers rich stories that resonate with our culture, it’s not just full of rules and names but its got a story that touches the deepest parts of us. It’s good that secular film directors and producers want to share these stories on the big screen. I understand that they don’t always follow the narrative exactly, but I would rather it be on the platform then not at all. Which leads me to the next point…
2. Noah leads to opportunities to ask questions. As you watch this film with your friends and families there will be questions flying around. It’s a chance for Christians to open up dialogue, to commend what was true in the film and what was not, to open scripture and point to the true story. This gives Christians a platform that isn’t cheesy or bait, but a platform where our secular society is actually willing to pay money to see a story that is important to us.
3. There are good parts in Noah – There are bits that I really enjoyed. I thought the way they put the animals asleep was really clever (and potentially true!). The telling of Adam and Eve in Eden was clever and I liked how the mark of what happened there has been carried through the generations, the corruption of man is clear. I think the film captures the harrowing parts of the flood and raises a huge number of questions. The film shows us that this is no Sunday school story, this is a story of judgement, pain, sacrifice, death and then hope floating in the middle of it.
4. The Rock People. Ok, so when I first saw these…rock people I think my first comment was “What are they?!“. I still can’t quite figure it out. Are they the “Sons of God” who had relations with the daughters of men? My Geeky side loves this artistic expression of who they are – covered in the rock of the earth as they fall from heaven. That side is clever. But my head also says that the other bits aren’t quite right – helping Noah build the ark and then returning to heaven? I’m afraid not. But it is clever nonetheless.
5. The Absence of God – This is my biggest contention with the film and it has a huge knock on effect with the character Noah. Noah sees visions of building the ark via a strong hallucinogenic drug. It causes Noah to freak out and go on a strange killing spree in the ark because he really has no clear direction of what is going on and thinks the human race should be wiped out. This wouldn’t have been a problem if God had spoken to him, like he did the bible…
Go into the ark, you and your whole family,because I have found you righteous in this generation. (Genesis 7)
God spoke to him and told him that Noah and his family are righteous and later He tells them to multiply and fill the earth (like in Genesis 1). The absence of God in this film makes it feel like God is a tyrant, hidden in the heavens far away giving strange obscure dreams to wipe out humanity and not really caring. But that isn’t true and although this is a hard part of scripture to work through, God is not an illusion and he does speak to Noah giving clear instructions. If this was included in the film perhaps we would have seen a different side of Noah and a different dynamic in the story.
Should we see it?
Despite this one part of the film that I found particularly frustrating, I do think its worth seeing. It is a well made film with good actors in it, but you have to go in and understand that it doesn’t keep entirely to the biblical narrative. Yet there are still things in it that are worth commending. As I mentioned above you do have a great platform to share the true story and to point to Jesus. Don’t write it off straight away, but use it as a starting point, a platform to work from.