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Friday, April 11, 2014

Movie Review: Noah

By Niki Turner

SPOILER ALERT: There may or may not be spoilers in this post, or in the two links I've shared below. So if you don't want to know what happens in the "Noah" movie (beyond the ark and the animals and the rainbow and all that), stop reading now!

Hubby and I went to see the new "Noah" movie last weekend, starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson. (Excellent acting on all three parts, IMHO.) And, to my surprise (and horror) Anthony Hopkins. I'm sorry, I love Anthony Hopkins, but he has to stop playing the same role—the wise and all-knowing father figure—over and over...

Anyway, if you live under a rock, or are otherwise not engaged in social media with other Christians, you might be unaware of the controversy this film has engendered. It has been called (among other things):

Unbiblical. (Is that a word? Because spell check doesn't think it is.)
Heretical. (Definition of heresy: a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief or opinion of a particular religion.)
Incongruous. (Seen a Hollywood flick that WASN'T incongruous lately?)

And so on...

Christian reviews have been divided (and divisive). Some have lauded Darren Aronofsky's version of the Genesis story of Noah as an opportunity to open lines of communication with unbelievers. Others have criticized the film's failure to adhere to the Biblical account. (Because, you know, all those movies with cute, Caucasian actors portraying Jesus are SO accurate.)

Honestly, I was so disgusted by the name-calling and strife I had no intention of seeing "Noah" at all, lest I be sucked in to the fray. (I hate fray, yet here I am.) But when your hubby of 24 years suggests
seeing a film together on a Sunday afternoon, you just don't say no. 

And so we trotted off to the cinema, where I wasn't expecting a "Biblical" drama, just a movie. Why do we (Christians) continue to expect Hollywood, land of lasciviousness, to accurately portray any Bible story? That's not their job. That's OUR job. We are supposed to be the "living letters" that demonstrate Christ to the world. Not some cheesy movie we put our money behind. (And yes, the first five minutes of Noah, and all the depictions of birds in flight, are cheesy. On a good day.) 

That said, "Noah" was, overall, an interesting flick. It's not a happy tale, but then, the Genesis story is not a happy story. It's hard. Brutally violent. Uncomfortable, at best. Why we continue to decorate our babies' nurseries and children's church classrooms in a Noah's ark theme is beyond me. There's really nothing pleasant about it until you get to the rainbow.


I could (because I wasn't looking for the movie to affirm my faith in God, or the veracity of the Bible) ignore the "rock monsters" everyone has been freaking out about. Whatever. Give the writers a little creative license before you start throwing stones. Posts at Relevant Magazine and Jewish Journal (remember, the story of Noah we know and love was passed down from our Jewish forefathers) had prepped me for some of the other controversial plot devices, so I was able to ignore those, too. Check out this post by Jason C. Stanley, too, for a handy-dandy comparison chart of the Genesis story and the movie. 

Noah's story—his character arc—gave me pause (and brought me to tears). Why? Because I've been in that ugly place where I thought I'd failed to fulfill God's assignment. (Did you ever wonder what drove Noah to drink? Wow. It might be poetic license again, but there's nothing as miserable and discouraging as believing you've failed God.) And because I've (thankfully) been drawn out of that place of failure and into a place where I have a greater understanding of what mercy, love, and compassion truly mean. Not just for others, but for myself, in my own broken state.

On another note, my other takeaway from the movie is that meat is suddenly unappealing. To the extent that I skipped meat all week, which is weird for me. And difficult, since I'm the cook for a family of carnivores. Does "Noah" have an environmentalist, vegetarian agenda? Maybe. (After all, you know how those vegetarians and tree-huggers are always trying to take over the world. Sarcasm? Yep.) 

And yet, maybe we do need to stop and think about what we're doing to the planet with which we've been entrusted, even though we know the end of the story, and know God is going to start all over with a new heaven and a new earth someday. 

As a believer, does knowing the end of story mean I can treat the earth and the creatures I live here with as disposable and expendable, because Daddy God is going to replace it all eventually? That, in my opinion, is that same mindset that says my daily exercise routine is unnecessary because this body is doomed, anyway; it doesn't matter where/how the energy that lights and warms my home comes from; and I can eat all the Oreo cookies I want, as long as I cast the calories out of them first.

Is this right? Or do I need to adhere to those early instructions, the ones about caring for and overseeing God's creation, showing mercy to the creatures (animals) in my domain, and maintaining this earthly body in a responsible way for as long as it continues to be my tent?

The Biblical accuracy of "Noah" might be questionable, but the movie brings to light a host of other very Biblical, moral and ethical questions about life, about following God, about our humanity, and about our responsibility to God's creation that we would do well to consider and apply. Just a thought. 

Questions:

  • What's your favorite Bible-story based movie? 
  • Have you seen "Noah," and if not, are you planning on it?



Niki Turner is a writer, former pastor's wife, mother of four, and grandmother of three. She has thus far been unsuccessful at coming up with catchy taglines for her writing, her purpose in life, or what she hopes to achieve in the future. Suggestions are welcome


11 comments:

  1. Great post, Niki. There's a lot to think about here. I hadn't planned to see the movie. Not because if the controversy. I tend not to let things like that keep me from something.

    I really do like the way you can still find something that touches you whether or not there was a Biblical message intended by the movie maker. That, to me, is so very worth it.

    Favorite Biblical movie: Passion of the Christ. Reason: the passion and gratefulness it inspired in me.

    Side note: Oreos aren't allowed in my house. I can't stop at four cookies, and I can't find that secret to vanquishing the calories.

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  2. The Passion is probably my favorite, too. Makes me cry every time, though.

    LOL. I think keeping Oreos out of the house might BE the secret!

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    1. I have "The Passion" movie and as much as I liked it, I haven't been able to watch it more than the one time.

      No oreos for me either. The last time I bought them went like an episode of a cop show. Addiction is not pretty.

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    2. Yes, it's definitely not a "watch it over and over all the time" movie. Like, um, Iron Man. ;)

      Haha! Oreo addiction is a scary thing.

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  3. I never trust any Hollywood "Bible-based" script to be accurate, but I do like to view the films for myself to see how close or way-out the creators got. I usually try to not get riled up without viewing and giving thoughtful consideration - because sometimes that creative license Hollywood takes really becomes an inspirational moment. Hey, if God can use a talking donkey...

    The Passion of the Christ is a favorite of mine. I haven't seen Noah (don't plan to, but more because I haven't seen a movie in a theater since my four year old was born). Without seeing it, I just figured, if people like it and are curious enough, perhaps it might lead them to actually read the Bible for themselves. Never a bad thing.

    as for OREOS, I can limit myself to one or two - but only because I force that limit on my child unit. Not fair if mommy gets more just because she's the mommy.*heh* If no child unit - Oreos would be banned from the house on the general addictive properties they possess. :)

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    1. *grin* Yep, God did use a talking donkey to get His word across. Still does, although it's usually the 2-legged version these days. ;)

      My husband once caught me sneaking Oreos in the pantry so the children wouldn't ask for any. Funny thing is he was getting in the pantry for the same reason.

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  4. I believe we are to take care of the planet and our bodies as long as we are using them.
    As for Noah... I probably won't see it but it has nothing to do with the subject matter. Absolutely we should not expect Hollywood to create a true biblical story. This is a movie for entertainment, to make money.

    Even movies made by "religious" filmmakers get trashed for every speck of doctrine one doesn't agree with, or that they didn't have a big enough budget to get 'good actors'. whatever!

    Sadly, some will see this movie and take it as 'gospel'. HA! In that case, yes, it's a good point for discussions. You've done that. I probably won't. I still can't get past a Jewish guy being named Ham. Typo?

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    1. (ha ha, okay - not Jews. I know) But I am hungry now that you mention it.

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    2. That was a spit-water-out-my-nose kind of LOL.

      I guess the YouVersion Bible app said the number of people accessing the book of Genesis has gone through the roof since the movie opened. That's something.

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  5. I thought this article explaining that the movie actually was taken from gnostic beliefs and kabbalah rather than the Biblical account to be compelling and interesting. http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil
    It made a lot of sense to me.

    I haven't seen the movie. Maybe when it gets to Netflix...

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    1. Very interesting stuff. I think we Christians tend to forget that the roots of our faith are not American, or even European, and that there were lots and lots of variations on the theme, just as now there are so many denominations in Christianity.

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