noah

The story of Noah has always fascinated me. For most of my life and to this day, I’ve fervently believed that the Creator of the world came to regret the evil of His creatures so vehemently that He ultimately destroyed all but a few with a global flood of water.

For decades, I’ve told my friends that one of my requests of the LORD when I finally meet Him will be to ask that He show me His home movies of the flood. When a few years ago I saw the horrifying images of the Japanese tsunami, they renewed my contemplation of the terrifying reality that brought the first global civilization to a definitive end.

“Noah,” brought to us by director Darren Aronofsky, is a blockbuster of a movie that also busts some of the stereotypes of this biblical story while at the same time maintaining respect for one of the core messages of the bible, namely:

“… this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.”

If that immutable historical fact were to be discussed rather than discounted, then it’s corollary might not be so readily dismissed:

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. ”
– 2 Peter 3:5-7

Paramount released the following statement about the movie, embedded in a larger release clarifying the movie’s approach to the biblical text:

“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe this story is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The Biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis.”

I confess to being a junkie when it comes to science fiction and fantasy, comic book art, and imaginative explorations of theological concepts. And so, I followed my heart this morning to a Cineopolis theater and saw the first showing of Noah.

There are aspects of a movie that I focus on that perhaps no one else might. I decided to write this review, hoping you’ll find one or more of my observations helpful; but I also hope that, regardless of your perspective, this review will encourage you to boost the early box-office take of this film. I want to see more biblical epics made, more opportunities for Christians to engage our culture in discussions of history and truth.

Noah is portrayed as a strong but truly human character, a man of unswerving conviction who loves his family deeply. The creation of the world and all it contains is beautifully portrayed in an interesting fast-frame overlay sequence that distills a sense of the vast variety of God’s handiwork into a few minutes of visual wonder.

Satan is seen as the evil serpent he is, tempting a then-glorious Adam and Eve to their original sin. Sin, of course, results in global death and misery, violence and destruction.

PangaeaI was pleased to see the planet portrayed in its original Pangaea form, as a single super-continent surrounded by water. This is universally believed by both biblical and secular scholars, although the timing of its separation is all over the map. Personally, I think that occurred during the lifetime of Peleg (Genesis 10:25 and I Chronicles 1:19).

Imagine my delight when the narrator spoke of a technologically advanced global civilization; this is precisely what I have long believed. My opinion that such is true is based on the biblical account of a single spoken language coincident with lives long enough to accomplish incredible cooperative learning and development. Somewhat disappointing to me, the main visual story line of the movie reveals only scant traces of technological debris, remnants of the violent destruction of wars, evidence of man’s inhumanity to man.

The Nephilim are portrayed in this story as fallen but redeemable angels; they appear as rather terrifying cartoon-style characters with tremendous strength, and in an interesting sidelight, help with the “heavy lifting” during the construction of the ark.

Noah is a complex character, one who has much less of a “direct pipeline” to the LORD than Bill Cosby’s humorous comedy classic depiction of the man. He struggles with his understanding of God’s underlying purpose in the global destruction, and for a time his thinking is confused. As a fellow man with many life struggles, I strongly identified with Noah’s internal conflict.

I was surprised that special effects were not better used to convey the power of the flood itself, especially given recent visual captures of the mind-numbing horror of tsunamis in Thailand and Japan; nevertheless, the included scenes are certainly horrifying enough.

If you go to see “Noah,” and I hope you will, just remind yourself; “It’s only a movie.” It’s a story. Don’t take needless offense where none is truly called for. Enjoy the movie as a story, use it as a conversation starter, and pray that your neighbor who sees Noah will have his thinking challenged and stirred.

One of the inherent values of storytelling is that it engages our emotions and elicits heart-felt responses from us that otherwise might not emerge. Recall Samuel as he confronted King David with the gut-wrenching story of the poor man’s ewe lamb, and Jesus as He engaged the multitudes with eternal truth in the form of parabolic tales.

In similar fashion, Noah engages audiences with a breathtaking story that is compelling, visually entertaining, imaginative, and disturbing. Who knows how the Spirit of the Creator might use such an epic blend of the fantastic and the biblical to catalyze conversations, to stir consciences back to an awareness that “It is He Who has made us, and not we ourselves?”

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