Guess what? I don’t care whether you see “Noah” or not!
But I saw it. And I was stimulated spiritually and intellectually by the truths and untruths it unabashedly professed.
Noah is an epic mythological thriller creatively adapted from a biblical story, full of fascinating anachronisms and philosophical meanderings. It’s a rather effective hybrid of “Legends of the Fall,” “Transformers” and “Sophie’s Choice,” all loosely hung from the skeleton of a story most frequently told in Sunday-school classes. But ladies and gents, this ain’t your grandma’s flannelgraph! (I like to call it “Legends of the Transformers’ Choice”!)
If you want nuggets of theology, you’ll find them. If you want barely-disguised ecological propaganda, you’ll find it too. Heck, if you dig a little, you’ll be able to uncover tremendous fodder for robust conversations on a number of topics. The movie is so rife with intriguing elements that I had to pull out my cell phone, ten minutes in, and start jotting down notes and questions. (There were only 3 other people in the theater and I was sitting at the back!)
Why is the response to this movie so virulent? Consider “Titanic” for a moment. It took a historical event and, under James Cameron’s direction, added plotlines about lost necklaces, forbidden love, class warfare, drunken Irish dances and enough special effects to make of the catastrophe that killed thousands of innocents a romantically charged and satisfying piece of movie history. But no one wrote blistering articles about the film’s inaccuracies and liberties, mostly because neither Jack nor Rose nor the ship that cradled their romance were elements of anyone’s faith.
It’s the biblical foundation of “Noah”—as negligible as it is in this movie—that has imbued the diatribes against it with the sort of righteous indignation that has, in my opinion, squandered a huge opportunity for Truth-telling. Yes, Darren Aronofsky added plenty of divergent plotlines to the tale: the stowaway who rides out the storm in the bowels of the ark, the Watchers (stone-monster “fallen angels” who help to build the ark), magic potions that help the menagerie to hibernate, a mystical snake skin, human trafficking (?)… It’s an incredibly “dense” storyline BUILT ON a biblical tale. It is not the big-screen adaptation of Strong’s Concordance.
It’s a movie, folks—and not a bad one, at that. In apocalyptic scope, it’s right up there with “I Am Legend.” In philosophical meat, it rivals “The Matrix.” In human drama, it actually has some elements of “Armageddon” and “Les Miserables.” (Though Russel Crowe’s singing in this one is sweet and gentle. Javert is dead, long live Noah!)
Here’s my point: we’re supposed to engage with the world around us, right? We’re supposed to learn its language in order to interact in a knowledgeable and intelligent way. For better or for worse, movies ARE a language to a broad portion of our society. So if watching a blockbuster deemed biblically unsound can help us toward truly transformative conversations with friends and neighbors who have yet to encounter The God of the Bible but are well versed in silver-screen trivia—why not use Darren Aronofsky’s admittedly dissonant incarnation of Noah’s story as a tool for the propagation of the Real Truth? We’d be fools to pass up this kind of ammunition because we’re in too much of a snit to see its redemptive potential!
So…if you’re tempted to see this thriller-slash-action-movie-slash-philosophical-rumination-slash-loosely-adapted-biblical-adventure, here are some topics I encourage you to consider. Then I urge you to do your own research, bounce your ideas off like-minded friends, and figure out how you can most effectively contradict or support the mixed messages in “Noah.”
- The consequences of misreading God’s mind when He doesn’t seem to be speaking
- The symbolism of water in the Bible
- The nature of evil (internal or external?)
- Barrenness and God’s purposes
- The role of incest in creation (think about it…)
- The role of lust in God’s plan
- Singleness as a regrettable status
- The role of man in his own destruction
- God – a merciful tyrant or an inhumane altruist?
- The nature of faith
- Is God’s justice unjust?
- Does God play favorites?
- The cost and nature of global redemption
- Mercy (man vs. man and God vs. man)
- Our role in the restoration of Planet Earth
- The powerful influence of societal pressure
- Separation from God
- Submission to male authority within the family
- Theistic evolution
- The dangers of misunderstanding God’s purposes
- The burden of doing what is right
- …and many more!
Should you see “Noah”? Not necessarily. It’s gory in places. (I wouldn’t take young children.) It’s long. It’s sometimes hard to watch. If you can’t subdue your righteous indignation long enough to dig for the potentially redemptive meat of a popular Hollywood movie, you’d probably be better off Googling puppies! But IF you do decide to see “Noah,” I recommend that you enter the theater with an inquisitive spirit, determined to look beyond the biblical inaccuracies and cinematographic effects to the philosophical and spiritual treasures that lurk within—not as fully-fleshed assertions, but as unanswered questions and flawed conclusions.
Jesus didn’t shy away from the lies of the Pharisees. He acknowledged them, debunked them face to face with the people who believed them, and used the fallacies they professed to offer them eternal life.
As always, please join the conversation! If the comment section below doesn’t work for you, email me and I’ll add your thoughts myself. Use the social media buttons to share this article and don’t forget to click “Like” to show your support.