noah

5 reasons to cheer on Noah

1.  It’s an opportunity for conversation

Imagine the scene:

Friend ” I have been thinking a lot about God lately.”
You “Which god is that? Is it the God as revealed in the Bible?”
Friend “I’m not sure. I just can’t get the story of Noah out of my head.”
You “Well if your thinking doesn’t match that of Genesis 6:9 and the following verses then you have strayed from God’s revelation.”
Friend “Oh I thought you’d be happy I was thinking about God.”

When an Oscar nominated filmmaker decides to make a movie about a key biblical narrative you can either criticise him or start a conversation. I’m always of the mindset that a conversation is a great place to start. (Damaris have once again provided some great resources to help that conversation along).

2. It will help people engage with scripture

I spoke with a 14 year old English boy today and I asked him what he knew about the Noah story and  he told me nothing. I gave him a few hints…

– its a story that involves a lot of water …
– there’s a boat in it…
– animals…

I drew a complete blank. He had never heard of the story at all. With an increasingly biblically illiterate culture, having a mainstream film  engage with a major Bible story is a real opportunity to help a new generation engage with scripture.

3. Fresh riff on a biblical story

I have read a lot of people arguing that Noah is least biblical biblical film ever. Having seen the film I understand a little where they are coming from. Yes there are things in the film that are not in the Bible – for one thing Noah speaks; which he doesn’t do in the biblical narrative. If you are going to make a 2 hour hollywood movie about this story you are going to give your lead character something to say.

Aronofsky has made a film inspired by the Noah story. He has taken artistic license; just as every film adaptation of every piece of literature does he has introduced new elements and rearranged some parts of the story for dramatic effect.  My 15 year son and I read the whole story of Noah together before watching the film last night and it was great to have a discussion on the way home about which bits we thought were true to the text, which bits made us rethink how we had understood the story before and which bits we would like to politely disagree with Aronofksy’s interpretation. To be honest my son does (and should ask ) the same questions of the sermons he hears – even / especially my ones :)

tpwt2ea-get-a-better-look-at-aronofsky-s-bizarre-noah-creatures-the-watchers

4. There are some profound theological questions being asked

If you can get past the Nephilim being portrayed as a cross between Bionicles and Transformers. If you can look beyond the weirdness about using a snake skin as a spiritual relic. If you can get over a slightly strange reliance on magic in the anti-dilluvian world. If you can get over the Abraham meets The Shining moments in the film then  I found some fascinating theological questions being asked by the film.

- What does it mean to be made in the image of God?

There’s an interesting conflict of interpretation coming from Noah verses Tubal Cain one arguing for a Green-stewardship model the other for a Wayne-Grudem-dominion model.

- How did Noah cope with the ethical dilemma of surviving a genocide?

- How do we reconcile a gracious and loving God with a God of Judgement? 

An area I devote a couple of chapters to in my new book Paradoxology- why christianity was never meant to be simple. Particularly the whole area of genocide and grace.

 5. There are moments of genius and beauty

There were some excellent parts of this film.

I loved the God’s eye view of the flood you are provided half way through the movie.

I loved the clever way Aronofsky allows the animals to co-exist on the ark.

I really enjoyed the retelling of the creation narrative in a way that would either get young and old earth creationists both cheering or booing.

The fall of humanity is told in a powerful way that helps us understand our current world situation.

Some of the special effects were brilliantly done.

When was the last time that you saw a major hollywood director face up to the judgement and grace of God in a $130 million budget movie?

Conclusion

Imagine if Jay Z did a remix of the Joshua Tree (which is one of my favourite albums of all time by the way). I would listen to that remix with some fear as for me there’s nothing anyone could add to Lanois and Eno’s production. But I would be excited that someone could help the album be heard by a new audience, I would be excited that someone valued the original so much they wanted to do an homage to it. I am sure bits of the album would be astounding and bits would be  things I was interested to hear the first time but wouldn’t want to listen to again. I guess coming out of watching Noah last night that is how I felt. I want to encourage everyone to go and see it and then check out the original in scripture.

Just this morning standing on the touchline watching my foster son play football Noah provided the opportunity for a conversation with another dad about the grace of God.  Noah provides  an amazing opportunity that is too good to miss.

Noah goes on general release on Thursday and is certificate 12a. It does have some disturbing scenes so this is definitely not a film for younger viewers.

8 thoughts on “5 reasons to cheer on Noah”

  1. Thanks for this – I hadn’t been bothered about seeing the movie because of the reviews but this highlights why it seems like a good opportunity. If I had a son, I’d take him!

    1. The biggest crap I ever saw !!! In 3D !!! Primitive and the biblical story totally twisted! God is bad,just wants to destroy mankind, “Stone monster” (Watchers) help the humans (attention:They just wanted to help the humans after GOD cast them out of Eden and the Creator was nagry about their”kindness” and THREW THEM ON THE EARTH (this is exactly what the Bible says about the devil+his demons…not that they wanted to help people but that they got thrown down to earth). So everything is twisted, God is bad, Devil is good, Noah does not get his vision about the ark by God but by drugs (given from “Methusalem”(Anthony Hopkins). Noah is shown as a kind of crazy cult leader. A fundamentalist who even wants to kill babies (and it is presented in a way as if God would have wanted it). In the last moment, Noah is not able to kill the babies and this is celebrated as rebellion against God and as a good thing. In the end Emma Watson even tells him that “The creator” propbably WANTED him (mankind) to act after their own will- that will save the whole mankind. Honest, I never saw such a antigodly and also primitive film in my whole life ! Did I mention that the “Stone Monsters” help Noah to build the ark ?!! I do not know what kind of shit the maker of the films smoked, but they should stop it! Oh,of course their is also space for some occultism: The intelligent watcher will realize that ongoing someone pushes his thumb between the eyes of someone else and they fall into coma (faith healers call that the pushingof the third eye). Oh and if you are not convinced yet how stupid it really is…there is also a pregnancy test they do in the ark….a leafe swims in a fluid(hope it was no blood) and it starts to sparkle- Pregnant. (Life can be so simple) Honest: Stay away from that film and most of all:Don’t bring your children with you if you still think you must see it. It is very brutal, the scenes are nothing for kids and the whole thing is very dark. Take your money and rather have a nice dinner.Better :-)

  2. I’m really getting sick, tired and frustrated with the attitude that immediately looks for reasons to criticise adaptations of this kind, rather than see them as positives. It betrays a lack of imagination and a misunderstanding of the creative process. So thank you, Krish, for redressing the balance and providing a thoughtful and positive view of the film and the opportunities to engage.

  3. A relevant theme I found was “does God remain silent?” Essentially – how does he communicate and can we ‘hear’ or know he will of God?

    It seems that no one in the story really knows the will of God but discerns it through vague visions and the Hollywood-style convenient wisdom of those around them (if at all). This is in no way a criticism but will help people ask the Christian, “how do you know what God wants of us/the world? Is it just visions or mythology?”

    There is a challenge to us all about whether God is silent to us today, but also an opportunity to share the clarity with which God’s final word in Jesus does show is his irresistible grace and how the bible as his words are relevant, understandable and applicable today.

  4. When sin and evil is pretty consistently reduced to resource mining and eating meat, I think we have a problem. Then we have Noah’s attempted infanticide and God looming over this whole sad affair like a vindictive eco-terrorist. The best thing I can see coming from this is that it makes the Biblical story look pretty tame for once. Do you seriously recommend this flick? I am really shocked Krish, really shocked. I appreciate trying to find positives in the midst of something generally negative, but this feels quite uncritically supportive. When the meaning behind the original story is completely mangled and essentially replaced by an idiosyncratic morality, it’s hard to see how it could be recommended as a good film.

  5. Good to read your thoughts Krish – as a comic book fan I had read the graphic novel which the film is based on / itself inspired by the bible passage. Aronofsky isn’t a believer so I was fascinated to see how he added and grappled with the wider fall / sin / redemption / salvation themes… Noah is more 300 than Sunday School – a new, creative and powerful artistic take…
    As Christians we can get hung up when someone does something a boy different to how we would – or look to engage as you suggest.
    I reviewed the film (as a cinematic experience – not on ‘accuracy’) here: http://darkmatt.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/darkmatters-review-noah.html

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