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…
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
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?
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.