Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” will go down as one of my favourite movies of all time. Now this isn’t a movie review per se, but the acting was superb, the cinematography was unbelievable, and the message … well, let’s talk about that part.
A lot of people have had a lot of opinions on this recent adaptation of the Biblical story. Maybe you’ve seen it and you liked it, or maybe you’ve seen it and you want to burn Hollywood to the ground. Maybe you’re a Christian who has relied only on other reviews to make a decision on which side to stand on, or maybe you’re not someone who would call themselves a Christian who is a little curious or confused about the whole thing. Regardless, your first priority should be to see the movie because, in my humble opinion, Mr. Crowe hits it out of the park. But, again, this isn’t a movie review.
Let me set the stage for you a little bit: Mr. Aronofsky set out to make a blockbuster based on one of the most popular stories in the Bible. First of all, I think we need to say “Kudos” to him because that’s quite a balls-y move, especially considering how upset some Christians have been over the whole World Vision debacle recently. It’s not exactly the best time to get on their bad side. (If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m referring to, you can either wait for Bold Cup of Coffee to churn out a post about it or do some “responsible” googling.)
I encourage you to watch the movie for what it is, not for what you think it should be. Think about the message and what it means in your life. I know I did, and have been, and it’s added that much more to my journey with God in this life.
Now, I assume that (some) Christians will get upset about the movie because, well, sometimes that’s just what people do. They get upset about things. Why? I’d venture to say it’s because we as humans are emotional beings that aren’t any good at living only by logic. To say we’re not influenced by emotion is like saying that pigs don’t stink: they just do.
But you started reading this because you care only about what I think about the movie, right? (Right?!) Again, it was incredible, and it has a lot to do with Russell Crowe.
Crowe did an amazing job conveying some extremely intense struggle within the character of Noah. Why do I care? Because you don’t get that feeling when you read the story in the Bible. We don’t see or hear or experience at all any hint of Noah going through any emotional turmoil while constructing the Ark, never mind when he is riding it knowing that everyone else outside of his big boat is dead. The only action from Noah we get is this:
"And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him." Genesis 6:22
That’s it. Now, there’s nothing inherently evil about that, but it doesn’t give us any evidence of Noah having an issue with the fact that God is literally wiping out every human being on the planet. In an interview, Aronofsky brings up the fact that even Abraham pleaded with God to save at least a few of the righteous among the wicked before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we don’t get that in Noah’s story. In the movie (and without giving anything away to those who haven’t seen it) Noah honestly seems crazy while he deals with this intense command from God. Multiple times throughout the movie, Noah looks to the sky, begging God for a direct answer to rid him of this emotional and spiritual strife. But, as many today would understand, that’s not necessarily how God speaks to us. We don’t get that in the Bible story either. It seems as though God is having a face-to-face conversation with Noah. Now, I suppose I’m not one to say that they didn’t in fact converse that way because I was not there, but I am simply comparing it to how God acts today and in my own life.
I think it’s an incredibly accurate portrayal of what those people would have wrestled with before their own destruction because I know most of us have been tricked into believing at some point or another that God has abandoned us when, really, it’s us who have left God’s comforting arms.
What hit me even harder in the movie is that Aronofsky gave a voice to the people of the world who would experience the death commanded by God. The main “villain”, Tubal-cain (not in the original Bible story of the flood), the king of the seemingly unrighteous people of the world, would stop at nothing to save himself from this wrath of God. It was amazing to me to see the antagonist in a position that wouldn’t necessarily be expected of him; most of us would predict the bad guy to have no belief in God, but that’s not authentic to the culture of the day. He did believe in God, and he had these similar struggles, especially when he found out that God chose Noah to survive over himself. His words in the movie still resonate with me:
"I am a man, made in Your image. Why will you not converse with me?"
Wow. That’s definitely not in the original Bible story. And it’s an intense idea to unpack. I think it’s an incredibly accurate portrayal of what those people would have wrestled with before their own destruction because I know most of us have been tricked into believing at some point or another that God has abandoned us when, really, it’s us who have left God’s comforting arms.
In writing this, I don’t mean to give you any sort of opinion to adopt. It’s merely an encouragement to view the movie in the light that it deservesto be viewed in. I don’t mean to impart an opinion of the movie being “better” than the story because the movie is not an attempt at an exact replication of the Biblical description. No, that would be boring and only about 15 minutes long. It is an interpretation of the moral and spiritual issues that crossover into so many aspects of our own lives today. Doubt, wickedness, mercy, suffering … the list goes on. I encourage you to watch the movie for what it is, not for what you think it should be. Think about the message and what it means in your life. I know I did, and have been, and it’s added that much more to my journey with God in this life.
Of course, the movie and the story invite concern and thoughts of contention on the topic of sin as well as a wrathful God. I encourage you, the reader, to comment or message any thoughts you have. Our goal as Christians is to engage in these issues that come along on each one of our own spiritual journeys, and to support each other to come to informed decisions.
In the words of Crowe’s character, “This is the beginning! The beginning of everything!”
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