by Charlotte O
“The book was better”
As much as I tried to reserve judgment on the Noah movie, it was impossible to be awake without running into some sort of opinion. After reading Cole’s thought-provoking article, I thought it was definitely something I needed to see for myself.
And after watching it, I can say that there were some things I enjoyed, notably the portrayal of the creation narrative, the fine acting, and the special effects. And part of me wanted to like the movie just to prove that I’m not one of those “judgey” Christians. But to be honest, I walked out of the movie feeling simply, empty.
Something was missing. And I think that something was redemption. I think the stories of the Bible are epic and I applaud the directors of our generation for trying to bring those to a greater audience. In Taiwan especially, where people don’t grow up with a Christian culture or much background knowledge of the Bible it can open doors for great discussions. In fact, I was surprised at how many people were in the theater watching it at 5:30 on a Tuesday afternoon.
I’m so glad I have more to go on than Noah did. I’ve got Christ’s example. I’ve got the lives of millions of believers before me. And of course, I’ve got the Bible.
But back to redemption. What we need to remember is that there are two different goals at work here. Hollywood is after the big story, but even more so, the big paycheck. Its ultimate goal is to make a profit, and hopefully entertain people in the process. God, on the other hand, is in the business of redemption, and his ultimate goal is to reconcile humans to Himself. And I think it’s possible that He may even use this movie to do just that, because, well, He’s God. And even though He was largely absent from this retelling, there are a few things we can take away from it.
1. Rock monsters are weird.
Ok, maybe this is not a theological point, but can we all just agree that rock monsters are never a wise choice? It doesn’t matter if your movie is The Hobbit, Frozen, or Noah. Rock monsters are never going to make your movie better. Fire that guy.
2. Sin is a big deal.
I think more than anything else, I got a very real sense of the wickedness of the people inhabiting the earth during the time of Noah. It was a dark, violent time, and I appreciated that Noah did come to acknowledge that it is inside of all of us. Even though he was chosen by God, it did not make him perfect. I think it is accurate to say that the closer we come to God, the worse sin looks, smells, and tastes. When we see the contrast of who God is and who we were created to be with what we are, and what we have done to this earth, we should be devastated. But unlike Russell Crowe’s Noah, God never intends us to stay there. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, a turning to God. Not guilt and despair.
3. We can be convinced of God’s will. And we can be completely wrong.
That was the thought that kept running through my head as things got tense with Noah and his family. But it is true that even those who have the clearest calling and purpose from God can still make mistakes. Can still fail. Can still misinterpret what God wants them to do. But thank God there is redemption!
In the end, Noah’s choice was seen as that: his choice. But that didn’t really satisfy me. The God I know is a God who saves. A God who is involved in our lives. If I had been making the movie, I would have done something, anything to show that it was NOT God’s will for Noah to act in violence. I was just waiting for Ham’s girl to miraculously have been thrown onto the boat in the deluge (I would have done it right at the moment Emma finds out she is pregnant – Noah walks outside to see her unconscious on the deck and realizes that God’s plan is to continue the human line through their family, but hey, I’m no Aronofsky). Or for the rainbow to come out the moment the babies were born. I wanted to see God show up, but instead people were left to fight their own demons, and make their own choices. And it is true that sometimes God is silent. But is then that we need to act on what we know of Him, on what He has revealed to us. It is then that we need to refuse to give up hope. I’m so glad I have more to go on than Noah did. I’ve got Christ’s example. I’ve got the lives of millions of believers before me. And of course, I’ve got the Bible.
Noah and his family were not proof that there was enough love in us to overcome the evil, but a symbol of hope, a message that God wasn’t finished with humanity, and that even marred by sin, God would continue to preserve those stamped with his image until the time when a Son of Man would come to fulfill history.
Movies can never do justice to the living, active word of God, but I’m glad there are people using this medium to tell these stories. Accurate or not, they give us something to think about, to discuss, and to engage with others. I hope that Christians will use this as an opportunity to engage the culture instead of just getting angry at a movie that never claimed or promised to be biblically accurate.
The movie took a very dark turn, and while it was well-acted, it never really came out of the gloom, even with the appearance of the rainbow. I remember watching a cable version of the Noah story as a youth in which Noah’s wife started to go mad on the ark. In this retelling, it seems as though Noah was the one who lost it. Now I can imagine that all that time on an ark would be enough to drive anyone a little nuts (a couple weeks of rain during Taiwan’s wet winter has a similar effect on me). But it really bothered me that Noah was so intent that God’s will was for him to be an instrument to end humanity. It shows a huge lack of understanding of who God is. Even at the moment of the Fall, there was a promise offered (Genesis 3:15). And Noah would actually become part of that promise. Noah and his family were not proof that there was enough love in us to overcome the evil, but a symbol of hope, a message that God wasn’t finished with humanity, and that even marred by sin, God would continue to preserve those stamped with his image until the time when a Son of Man would come to fulfill history.
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