On the day of its public release, Suzie and I went to see Noah. The film has generated much buzz. Some of this buzz was instigated by comments of director Darren Aronofsky. I found that the movie had many redeeming qualities, but did take licenses with some of the content. My biggest criticism concerns the movie’s genre. I am not a huge fan of movies with super-sized special effects characters. This movie began with a heavy dose of what might be called “giant stone transformers.”
The thesis of the movie is one which accurately represents the biblical account of God’s working through Noah. A clear line of descent for the descendants of Seth as followers of God were pitted against the descendants of Cain as evil doers. So vile was the wickedness of mankind that God determined to bring judgment upon the human race save Noah and his family. The wickedness of man is prominently pictured.
As a descendant of Adam even Noah wrestled with his sin. He acknowledged that he deserved God’s wrath as did others. But Noah did find grace in God’s eyes. The Bible teaches that God made a covenant with Noah. It was through Noah that God would demonstrate his covenant keeping ways.
The movie did a nearly flawless rendition of the earth’s origins. The creation story was presented as being passed on via oral tradition. Since Moses did not record the Genesis account until generations later, the concept of oral tradition is helpful to get grasp. The visuals of creation were spectacular with one flaw. Although God is often referred to in the movie as The Creator and that a general version of Genesis 1 is followed, the creation of the fish, birds and beasts picture an evolutionary process. The final creature before man is a monkey. But this evolutionary visual was almost so subtle that one would miss it.
The movie also did a great job of presenting the rainbow. The final scene provides viewers with a visual delight of majestic colors filling the screen. Also visually appealing was the entrance of the animals onto the ark.
It was interesting to see how Aronofsky chose to deal with some of the details which are not provided in the Bible. For example, I have no idea where the wives of Noah’s sons originated. The movie version is that the two youngest daughters-in-law were born on the ark. That didn’t happen. We are told in the Bible that eight people entered the ark. That also means that Noah’s wife didn’t discern the pregnancy of her daughter-in-law by reading tea leaves.
The chief villain in the movie is Tubal-cain. He is accurately depicted as of the line of Cain and as a forger of bronze and iron. Whether he was alive during Noah’s lifetime is unknown. He certainly wasn’t on the ark as the movie version indicated.
A very minor point is that Noah is a vegetarian in the movie while Tubal-cain is the carnivore. Tubal-cain as the movie character actually gets right that God gave man dominion over the animals. We find animals being used for man’s benefit as early as Genesis 3 after the fall of Adam and Eve. Noah even sacrifices to God some of the animals after exiting the ark in Genesis 8.
While Genesis 5 does indicate that Methuselah (Noah’s grandfather) did outlive Lamech (Noah’s father), I doubt that Methuselah died in the flood waters while searching for a berry to eat. I also doubt that God’s revelation to Noah occurred as a result of Methuselah spiking Noah’s tea.
The greatest liberty taken in the movie was the introduction of The Watchers. These were the giant stone creatures who aided Noah in the movie. I assume these are intended to represent what Genesis 6 calls the Nephilim. I understand that Bible interpreters differ on who the Nephilim were. The movie, however, presents The Watchers as good angels who had disobeyed God by helping man. As a result these beings of light were “transformed” into giant creatures of stone.
In a strange addition to the story, the movie presents viewers with two bits of relics. Methuselah gave Noah a seed supposedly from the Garden of Eden. Noah then used this seed to grow trees with which he built the ark. The other relic appeared in the opening scene and periodically until it appeared in the final scene. This relic represented the passing of the line of Seth as God followers from generation to generation. For some strange reason, Aronofsky chose this relic to be the shed skin of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Really?
I would rather have had a movie that didn’t rely on characters more apt for a sci-fi flick. I would rather some of the details be a bit more accurate. But I did appreciate the artistic presentation of this important biblical account of both God’s judgment on wicked men and his covenant keeping ways with men who found grace.