Saturday, March 29, 2014

The big deal about the Noah movie.

So I just got home from seeing the newest Bible story turned Hollywood blockbuster, Noah.
I swore up and down that I was not going to get so emotionally invested in this film that I felt the need to write a blog post, or even a super long Facebook status.
But hey - here we are.
Disclaimer: this is NOT a review of the movie, by any means. It is only my takeaway, from a faith-based viewpoint. In all, I did not deem it worthy of the harsh critiques and the so-called controversy. Read on to see why.

For the first time in, well, ever, I sat through this movie wishing with all my might that I could've brought a notebook and pen to the theater so I could take down notes as I watched. The theater wasn't all that crowded, so I pushed my shame aside, turned down the brightness on my phone and typed up my notes.

What can I say about this film, from an artistic point of view? For starters, you should know that I am a fan of Darren Aronofsky's prior work. Requiem for a Dream is a sobering (ha!) tale of addiction, Black Swan delves into the psychologically dark side of obsession, and then there's Pi, which I fell asleep during so I can't tell ya anything about it.
But what can I not say, really?! It was beautiful. Breathtaking. Stunning. Visually, it gets 5 stars from me. I had trouble looking away. And let's be honest, 30 minutes in to the nearly 2.5 hour film and I realize I really need to pee. But the movie was just SO captivating that I held it the entire time! ENTIRE TIME!
There were a few moments where I was left absolutely in awe. I'll note a few here:
- The recounting of the creation of the heavens and earth; it was reminiscent of science-based theories, I'll be honest, but it was beautiful to watch. The formation of the solar systems, of the planets and the land and seas - it was incredible.
- All of the flashbacks of the first sin (and the subsequent sins thereafter). Darren Aronofsky has a habit in his films of doing quick flashes of takes - in Requiem for a Dream, it would be quick flashes of drug making. In this instance, it was of the snake, the apple, and Cain killing Able. This happened multiple times throughout the film, mostly when Noah was reminded of the evil that was in the world and why God chose him to fulfill this plan.
- When the final "Watcher" ascends into the heavens (if you see the movie, you'll understand this, but I'm not going to elaborate any further than that..), the shot expands to a view of the entire Earth from space. It's not the normal view of Earth we usually see, but of an Earth completely covered in clouds and storms - that's when you know, the flood is really happening. Even the guy beside me broke the complete silence that filled the theater to say what everyone was thinking, ""

Aside from the artistic, there are MANY theological wins for this movie.
At this point, I figure most of you know that the film is not 100% Biblically accurate, nor was it made by a Christian; in many interviews the director has even said that it wasn't his aim to make a Biblical movie. BUT I won't get into the actual controversy that surrounds it, because that is absolutely pointless - it's a movie based off a Bible story; of course they took artistic license! Of course they embellished it! Why do you think they wouldn't?

My main takeaway from this film was anything BUT the controversy of it not being a Biblically accurate account of the story of Noah.
I saw it as a beautiful, encouraging story of faith. An incredible story of God's judgement and wrath - but also of His unending love, grace and mercy. I saw it as a painful account of the evil that is in this world, evil that will always exist - but that there is always hope for a new and better life. Just as the flood represents death and God's judgement on the human race, the dove bringing back that promise of land - it represents our death of evil, and hope for peace.

I was telling my mom about the movie shortly after exiting the theater. I told her the the controversy was, well, stupid and unworthy of that type of discussion. The REAL discussion that needs to be had is being completely avoided!
For me, I walked out of the theater completely refreshed - this film was a breath of fresh air, compared to all the Christian movies I've seen lately.
All my life, I've known the story of Noah. As a child, this is pretty much a mandatory story to know! But - as children - we are given glossed over, animated versions of the tale. We are taught that Noah built a really big boat, put 2 of each animal on the boat, and then after a whole bunch of days, land appeared and there was a really pretty rainbow. ....And that's about it.
That version of the story has followed me into adulthood. I'll be honest, since childhood, I haven't given the story of Noah much thought. Don't get me wrong - I've read it plenty of times since grade school, but I never put forth any effort into truly understanding it as a whole because of how it's taught to us as children. For me, it was always a happy, brightly colored story of saving animals.

But after seeing this movie? I can no longer look at it the same way, and I'm SO grateful for that. It was an intense and emotional film for me - I was finally realizing the depth of the story. A story that has been glossed over my entire life was coming full circle. God sent a crushing storm to kill off the human race! This is beyond terrifying! We are not taught this as children, for good reason - but at some point, when will stop looking at it simply as a save-the-animals tale.
But amongst the terror of all the death surrounding the ark, we see that God is providing for Noah and his family. It reminds us of God's grace and His love for us. When all of his family thought that the flood meant it was the end of everything, Noah would alway remind them that it was only the beginning... a new beginning. What faith and courage Noah had!
One of my favorite parts of the film is when Ila goes to Noah to tell him to find a new wife for Shem. Ila is barren, and cannot give children to Shem, and does not want to deny him of that. She says to him, "Why would God want to save a barren woman?" To which Noah replies with one of the best lines of the film:
"When I first took you in, I thought you would be a burden. 
But you are a gift. Never forget that you are precious, precious gift." 
I don't know about you, but when I heard that, I couldn't help but think of the immense love that God has for me. He doesn't see me as a screw up, as a sinner, as a burden. God sees me as a gift, a woman that He made in His own image! 

There are a few minor controversies I'll touch on though -
The use of the word "God" was only used once, if I heard correctly. Otherwise, the word "Creator" was used. Excuse me if I'm just totally wrong here but.... what's wrong with calling God "Creator" and only that? Sure, I'm sure their intent when using the word creator was to avoid stepping on toes and being politically correct. But.... isn't that was God is? The ultimate Creator of this world? The Creator of life and everything on this planet? I felt it was an extremely reverent word to use - I did not feel it was even worthy of being controversial.
Also being picked apart was the save the Earth tone of the film. Maybe I'm just too hippy-dippy for everyone else, but I absolutely LOVED this aspect. I don't know what to say other than the fact that Noah saved all the animals! I bet he would've recycled, too. ;)
Near the end of the film, Noah was portrayed a crazy drunk. I do not disagree with portraying him this way, although I can see why some would. The entire premise of the story is to display the faith that a mere human had for the ultimate plan of God. It is an incredible story of faith, I do not discount that. But imagine the burden that Noah must've felt - imagine the hardship he encountered when having to save just his family, and letting everyone else die? I don't know - this film gave these characters real emotions, real reactions, real heartache. The way Noah dealt with this burden once off the ark seemed so raw, and so real. I was incredibly impressed.
The lesson of this movie goes so much more beyond whether or not it's 100% accurate to the Bible. It is so much more than that, and if you can't see that, you need to watch it again and open your eyes to this story. For the first time in my adulthood, the Noah story felt real. And if an atheist directing a film based on the Bible can do this for a lifelong Christian, I have no doubt in the power of this film for believers and non-believers alike.
If you are a Christian and considering passing up this film because it was made by an Atheist, or because it took artistic license and isn't 100% Biblically accurate -- I beg you to reconsider. It's a movie based on a familiar Bible story; a movie with characters that were real, characters that God spoke to! Characters that directly helped God in a plan to restore the world. I don't know why you wouldn't want to see that!

...Or you could just go see Divergent, a movie about an evil government in a dystopian world, with absolutely no Biblical base whatsoever.


  1. I saw Divergent and I appreciate your review of the movie. I didn't want to see Noah, I still probably won't see it but I would be more than less inclined to just by your explanation. I think it's interesting that an Atheist chose to do this story, and do it well. Are there interviews with him as to why?

    1. I am about halfway through Divergent and so anxious to see the movie! I'm a total Hunger Games nut, so this shouldn't be a surprise. ;) also! Before Noah, the trailer for The Giver played! If you haven't seen it yet, look it up! Darren Aronofsky did a GREAT job pulling this off; I was quite surprised! I spent a lot of time reading critic reviews, Christian reviews, and interviews with him before seeing it - but I never intended to NOT see it. I do remember one article I read (and if I find it again, i will send you the link), but the main inspiration was that he wrote a poem on the Noah story in 7th grade, and that's what the movie is based on. It was interesting, and the poem was great. I really do encourage you to reconsider - I consider this to be fairly important for people of faith to see in order to properly discuss.

  2. See this is why you need to keep your blog ;) Don't feel obligated to post unless you feel like you really need to share something! Thanks for this review! Definitely made me want to go see it and appreciate it for what it is. Plus the artistic elements of the movie sounds amazing! :)

  3. Not to mention Noah being a drinker is in The Bible. Remember the part about how after the flood when he decides to get drunk and run around naked, and one of his sons covers him up with a blanket?

    1. yes, yes, yes!! I remember seeing an interview Aronofsky did and he said everything he put in the movie can be found in the Bible. I don't get why people are being so nitpicky. It's a Hollywood movie, for crying out loud.

  4. Hi Haley! I'm Heather and I wanted to know if you would be willing to answer a question I have about your blog! Please email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

  5. I saw it because I definitely wanted to decide for myself what I thought about the movie. Like you, I was completely okay with the artistic license taken--I mean, there aren't a whole lot of extra details added to the story so I would expect that. I'm also completely comfortable with calling God "Creator" and yes--he did save all the animals and not all the people, so that automatically gives the story an "earthy" tone to it.
    What pushed me over to the edge of not liking the movie, however, was the whole entire story line about Noah reacting horribly to the news of the pregnancy and wanting to kill the babies. Because that's not just an added artistic detail, to me, that story line is fundamentally opposed to what God told Noah before he ever built the ark about finding him and his family righteous and establishing his covenant with them. That's unbelievable to me--from my understanding of Scripture, Noah would not have believed that God would establish a covenant with his family but then decided that he ought to kill his grandchildren.
    So, all the rest I found intriguing and I agree that the movie was very artistically executed, but that plot point was a big concern for me.