I rarely take into account the reviews of movies that I wish to see, either before or after. Mainly because I go to the movies with the sole purpose of being entertained. Either I am or I’m not, but the movie must really be awful for me to outright hate it. I hated There’s Something About Mary and Bridesmaids, for example. For movies based on novels, I don’t go in with said novel in hand in order to make line by line comparisons, nor am I terribly upset when there’s something added to the movie that wasn’t in the book. Why? Because I realize that books and movies are two different mediums, and sometimes, what’s written in a book doesn’t always translate well in a movie. And I also realize in order to do a book true justice in a movie, it’s going to be a helluva long movie. I’m over that – I’m there for the entertainment. If I want more, I can read the book if I haven’t already.
Noah’s received several reviews, and all I’ve really done is read the headlines in order to get a sense of whether or not the reviewer liked the movie. I’ve discovered there are those who love it, and there are those who hate it, and like everything in this nation at this moment, it’s all getting overblown so far out of proportion, it’s insane. HELLO. IT’S A *MOVIE.* It’s purpose is not to convert the atheist horde to Christianity, nor turn the hearts of we agnostics back to Christ and God. It is an Old Testament story, and from what I remember of what little I read of the Bible years ago, the Old Testament God was a rather vengeful deity. He asked Abraham, I believe, to sacrifice his only child (Isaac) as a showing of faith, only staying Abraham’s hand at the last moment. I’ll be coming back to Abraham and Isaac a little bit later.
Way too much emphasis is being put on the fact that the director is an atheist. And the fact that he said this is the most non-Biblical movie ever made. To the first – big, fat, hairy deal. It’s a rallying cry for Christians to justify their dislike or outright hatred for the movie. “A Christian-themed movie was directed by an atheist! WAH! BOO HOO! Our salvation is at stake!” *Please.* You are not going to be damned to hell for seeing Noah in theaters, nor will you burn in eternal flames for actually enjoying it. The story of The Great Flood and Noah isn’t very long, as I recall, so to have followed it strictly (with no embellishments of any kind) from the Bible and nothing else? Maybe a thirty minute movie. Maybe forty, but I’d say that’s pushing it. As to the second, that Noah is the least Biblical of the Biblical movies made, that’s the director’s opinion. I actually found several Biblical-like innuendos throughout the movie.
Like what, you say? *SPOILERS*
How about the fact that Noah comes to believe throughout the building of the ark and the rain starting, that the Creator (another name for *God,* by the way) means to wipe humanity off the planet for good, including Noah and his family, because he’s come to realize that mankind, at its very nature, is corrupt and evil. Hell, can’t argue with that. Look at us – we are STILL, in this enlightened age of the 21st century arguing over things like territory, religion, human rights – but I digress. That’s an entirely different blog post. Noah’s stance is that God created a wondrous world – beautiful, in harmony and balance until Adam and Eve eat of the Forbidden Fruit. The first sin, if you will, the beginning of the corruption of mankind. So, therefore, the flood is the Creator’s way of restoring balance…a balance that doesn’t include mankind. He tells his family they are meant to die. When Ila becomes miraculously pregnant (after being miraculously healed by Methuselah), Noah believes he has a mandate from God to kill the child if it is female, because girls grow up to become women and everyone knows women give birth, therefore continuing humankind. Holy shades of Abraham and Issac, Batman! And whereas Abraham was stopped by a more heavenly means from killing his son, Noah makes the decision on his own not to kill his twin granddaughters. Let me say that again…Noah, a human, stops himself from killing the babies – because, get this: Love is stronger.
The rain stops when Noah goes topside after the Big Announcement about the pregnancy, and yells at the heavens that he will do as the Creator demands – kill the baby if it is a girl. I saw the rain stopping as God’s acknowledgment that Noah has gotten the message and interpreted what he is to do correctly. That means that the rain stopping is a sign. As I recall the Bible, God is fond of those. Signs, that is.
We also see Ila and Shem fighting the declaration that their daughters must be killed, but in the end, Ila holds them, after demanding Noah allows her to soothe them so they might die peacefully. Ila holds them, willing to allow Noah to kill them. Again that theme of obedience. It’s a biggie in the Bible and with Christians, isn’t it? Obedience to God’s will? Obedience to the male head of the family?
And then, Noah is called away from Ila and the babies, after he couldn’t bring himself to kill them: Here we have the final interaction with the Bad Guy of the piece. Conveniently the ark runs up against a rocky mountain, thrusting up out of the waters. Yeah, it’s convenient to bringing the fight to an end, but not much time has passed since Noah didn’t kill his granddaughters. How can finding land at that moment be anything but a reward for having done the right thing in regards to his granddaughters?
Ham. Yes, there was a clear departure from the Bible in that the younger two sons did not have wives on the ark with them. Ham is discontented – there’s always one in the crowd, right? He sees the gross unfairness in that he won’t have a wife. The death of the woman he found for himself sows the seeds of more discontent. Sets Ham up to conceal the Bad Guy when the B.G. manages to sneakily get into the ark, to be put in the position of being disloyal to his father and committing outright betrayal. Cain and Abel, anyone? Only instead of brothers, it’s father and son, and Ham makes the choice Cain didn’t – not to allow his hate and discontent to rule him. Instead of betraying his father, instead of helping kill his father, he kills the Bad Guy instead. Redemption. And a bit of the prodigal son when he starts out at the end of the film, to find his way in life.
Miracles: Ila’s being healed so she might bear children. The growth of the forest Noah would need to build the ark, the water they’d need to grow the plants to take on the ark…The key word here is *miracle.* Isn’t the Bible chockfull of those? How is a forest springing from one Garden of Eden seed and miraculous water flowing so that it may germinate and turn into an enormous forest any more ridiculous than, say, a virgin spontaneously conceiving a child and giving birth to the Son of God in human form?
That said, The Watchers – the angels turned to rock beings for going to earth to watch over and help Adam and Eve after they are forced from the Garden of Eden. The Old Testament God is, as I’ve said before, a vengeful God, punishing those who do not obey His Will. Movies of Noah’s nature – big action-adventure, drama-filled movies cannot in this day and age exclude CGI. It’s a requirement, I believe, of all these Big Blockbuster type movies. The important thing here is that the Noah story of the Bible is short. That leaves the writers of this film (one of whom was also the director, if I remember the final credits correctly) plenty of room for poetic license. Why not have rocky fallen angels? I thought they looked really cool when they were released from their earthbound form to return to heaven.
Noah is portrayed as a man who loves his family and Creator. As the movie marches on, through all the trials and tribulations with telling this sort of story, he is a conflicted and tormented soul. He knows what he is being asked to do, and knows it ain’t going to be easy. Nothing ever mandated by God is easy. God doesn’t ask His Chosen to make easy choices and walk the well-paved path – this is all very evident in the Bible. The journey He sends his Chosen on are fraught with potholes, demons, obstacles, heartbreaking choices. It’s been years since I read any part of the Bible, but I do remember that part.
Do I agree with the director that this is a non-Biblical movie? If you look at the story of Noah in the Bible and this movie, then yes, it’s pretty non-Biblical, other than the names and the Flood. The fight between good and evil is a well-used theme. It is Biblical whether by intent or not, as it is the first conflict that arises in the Bible – Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel…And it continues throughout that Book. And it carries throughout the movie of Noah. Was it a environmental vehicle? Sure. Clearly depicted was the waste man laid to the earth in the desolate, barrenness of the land shown on screen. Environmentalism is a hot topic in this age of global warming, as well it should be. We need to take care of our planet – and respect it. What’s wrong with telling people that?
Did I like Noah? The jury’s still out, but I can tell you I certainly didn’t hate it. Did I find the storyline unbelievable? It was clearly a work of fiction that drew from Biblical stories. Honestly, I believe the Bible was written by men and as an agnostic, I do not whole-heartedly, or even half-heartedly believe the Bible is in the inspired word of God. As I’ve said previously at least twice (sorry for repeating myself here), the story of Noah in the Bible is very short. There’s plenty that can be left to the imagination to fill in. Who’s to say it couldn’t have happened this way (although probably sans rocky fallen angels called Watchers). Would I recommend it or not recommend it? I’d say make your own decision as to whether or not Noah appeals to you. That said, if you go see it, go with an open mind. If you go determined to hate it because of the reviews you’ve read, then yes, you will probably hate it. You’ll reap what you sow. Remember it is a movie, and that it’s main purpose is to entertain – not to convert, reaffirm, or tell a strict accounting. I must say, I love Russell Crowe and Emma Watson, have yet to dislike any of their performances.
I’ll wrap up with one final thing: Noah, the movie, is at its core, I believe, a movie about love. Love of family. Love of Creator. Love of the world as it was created – in abundance and balance. If all this movie engenders in anyone who sees it is hate, well then, in my opinion, you’ve missed the entire point.