I confess, I’m not really much of a movie man.
They are expensive (especially if I take all 7 of the Berrytribe like we do every Christmas). It’s mostly a blind gamble as to their quality, which I can’t afford the time or money to risk too often these days. And, for the most part, they make lousy dates with my wife because you walk out 3 hours later, $30 poorer and not knowing one another any better by the investment. I’d rather go for a walk and grab a meal together.
But that said, I do have movies that I love. Without tainting your opinion of me with those titles, I think their common threads are some combination of these:
- They have a character I want to emulate or be like.
- They often are “based” on a true story or a book that I have read
- They often have at least some comic relief in the drama of the narrative.
So, when I went to see Noah on opening day last Friday with some friends, I think that without saying it, that’s kinda what I was expecting. I’ve read the book and even memorized a few lines from Noah’s story. My favorite is Genesis 6:9. It reads, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, Noah walked with God.” I wanted that to be true.
I wanted to walk out of the theatre appreciating some of the creative license on plot twists and concepts that might have been true or were within the realm of possible. I wanted to laugh a little. But mostly, I wanted to walk out wanting to be Noah. I wanted to leave the theatre like you do when you leave a great funeral, wanting to emulate the one in whose name we have gathered. I know I didn’t walk the Earth with Noah, but I wanted to feel like I wished I could have been in his family or at least have known him.
But on those notes, this movie fell flat. It left me with a distaste for the character Noah, a silent/ angry/ distant God, and a sense that what I just watched was mythology, not a remake of an ancient truth.
Yet, in spite of that, here’s a few reasons I’d tell you to see it and why I’ll eventually watch it with my own kids so we can wrestle with it:
(warning… might be a movie spoiler or two down here)
IT’S HONEST ABOUT THE UGLINESS OF THIS STORY:
I was the one who decorated our kid’s nursery with cute little animals walking 2 by 2 into the ark. We had several toy play sets and all kinds of stuffed animals for kids to remake the scene with as they moved through their toddler years. I wouldn’t change that…
… but all the Bible stories we tell little kids are age-appropriately edited. At some point, faith development requires you undo that censorship and pull the covers back on the rest of the story. The kids Bible you grew up with was missing some verses to say the least. Think about it: David and Goliath ends with David decapitating Goliath and then carrying his head around all the way to Jerusalem and then displaying Goliath’s weapons like a treasure in his tent. Can you imagine the uproar if the U.S. soldiers did that with Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden? Not exactly what we would even call humane treatment of even your enemy.
When the walls of Jericho come down by the power of God, they devote the city to God and then ALL the inhabitants and ALL their livestock are killed by the Israelites. After Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal in an epic showdown with fire from heaven, he has his opponents captured and then slaughtered. Yes, that’s the word the NIV uses to describe it… slaughtered. That definitely never makes it in the picture pop-up Bible.
The truth is: Noah and his family and some animals live, but everyone else dies. EVERYONE else dies. Neither the Bible nor this Movie leave that fact ambiguous. Much like The Passion of the Christ did not hide the blood on the crucifixion, neither does the Noah story hide the death and destruction the flood caused. In fact, Noah’s kids even wrestle with it as they hear the screams of the last few survivors as they sit inside the safety of the boat, begging Noah to do something.
You can’t bury this in faith. If you’re going to follow Jesus or claim that God is loving, you’re going to have to come to terms with this text. Keep reading…
IT REVEALS HOW EMPTY GODLESS LIVING IS.
Despite the horrific reality of a world that drowns to death, as the viewer, you actually never feel guilty about those who die because the movie depicts them as horribly evil. They rape women and abduct children. They kill animals and eat their meat raw and bloody. Sin has literally ruined the world. I kind of saw God’s reason for the flood in a new light. I almost wanted to rid the world of them myself. Genesis 6:11-12 says, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. ” I thought the film did a good job of depicting this reality.
IT CREATIVELY SHED LIGHT ON A FEW THINGS I HADN’T SEEN BEFORE.
For example, when Noah finally lands on dry land, he has survivors guilt and tries to drink his worries away like an alcoholic. The Biblical Noah story does in fact have Noah naked and drunk near the end of it. I never quite understood this in the text of the Scriptures and seems to be a backward move from “Noah was a righteous man” who was blameless and walked with God. The movie made me wonder if in fact Noah was dealing with “survivor’s guilt” on a level that was literally almost unbearable. I was moved to compassion for his response and reminded how quickly sin creeps back into the human condition, even after given a clean slate to restart.
IT WILL MAKE YOU GO BACK AND RE-READ THE STORY.
If you haven’t read Genesis chapters 6-9 in a while, then this movie will cause you to do that. It will also present an opportunity for you to do that with your friends. My guess is that there’s a lot of people who went to this film who even go to church and didn’t know where the line of truth and stretching the truth actually was on this film. Sure, they weren’t fooled into thinking that Rock People built the Ark, but I would bet that most asked, “Is that in the story? Does the Bible say that? I’m confused, I think I need to go re-read this story again.”
If the movie did that, even a little, in our Biblically illiterate culture, then I guess that’s a success on some level.
I mean really. I should be walking in thinking, “It’s a Hollywood movie produced by a self-proclaimed atheist with a primary function of making money, what did you expect?”