The long awaited release of the NOAH Movie starring Russell Crowe will commence in theaters on Friday, March 28th. Anticipating much involvement from the Christian community both in favor of and against the movie, I accepted the opportunity to screen the movie just a couple days ago. In addition to screening the movie on my press junket to Los Angeles I had a great chance to speak personally with Director Darren Aronofsky and Co-Writer/Executive Producer Ari Handel at a press roundtable. I was impressed by their candor and respect for our questions. This article shares my thoughts and recommendations regarding the movie as well as highlights from the interview.
The Biblical Account of Noah in a Nut shell
In the Bible we are told that Noah found grace in the sight of God (Genesis 6:8) and so God trusted him to tell a wicked and corrupt world of the importance of their need to agree that the Lord’s way was best and that man without the Lord was destined for hopeless death and destruction. When you read Genesis chapters 5 through 11 you can learn that Noah must have preached somewhere between 55 and 120 years before the great flood.
Noah had a wife and 3 sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth and the Bible tells us that the five of them along with the three wives of Noah’s sons entered the ark before the rain and waited there for 7 days before it began. Noah was not able to convince anyone else to join them so it was only those 8 people on the ark (Genesis 7:13, 22-23). Then it rained for 40 days and the waters flooded the earth for 150 days … that is about 6 months! (Genesis 7:12, 17) Noah sent birds out to see if it was safe to leave the ark. Several birds went out and returned with no sign of safety. Finally a dove returned with an olive leaf which told Noah that hope of land was realized and God’s promise of safety for he and his family was true. 7 days later he sent out another bird, which did not return to the ark. It was then that the family and all of the animals exited the ark and immediately built and altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20).
The first bow (rainbow) was set in the sky as an everlasting covenant that God would never again destroy the earth by flood (Genesis 9:11-17).
The Movie Account of Noah
Mostly true to the Bible this full-scale visual epic takes the audience on a journey through some Old Testament history. No doubt the aim of the film is to provide a spectacular experience for the movie goer that retells the miraculous story of the world-wide flood that destroyed all but 8 people and many animals. It uses history that is found in the Book of Genesis in the Bible as well as other non-biblical sources such as The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees. Producers of the movie also consulted modern theological and historical sources to bring this story to the big screen.
The movie begins with some history that happened before Noah’s day, including a quick recap of the first murder (Cain killed his brother Abel) leaving the descendants of Cain to pursue continually evil ways. Conversely, Noah is of the lineage of Seth, a brother that was born after Abel’s death. Seth’s descendants continue in the ways of the Lord.
The movie goes far beyond the story that many of us learned when we were children. It is not all about the animals who went two by two. Instead it is about Noah, the man, and his family. Director Aronofsky uses words like “mythical”, “metaphoric” and “poetic event” to describe this work that he has dreamed about since he was as young as 13 years old. While he knew this would be a fantastical story to tell and an extremely ambitious undertaking, he also spent much time contemplating Noah and his family – what they must have gone through during this the end of the world as they knew it.
Some Things Literal – Some things Not
May Christians have spoken out against this movie because it contains some elements that may not be found in the Bible. I encourage believers and nonbelievers to read the account in the Bible before you go see the movie. This will introduce you to or reacquaint you with the true historic account of Noah and the flood and allow you to form your first hand opinion on this movie. Since I do not want to spoil the movie for you, I have taken some of the elements and listed them below along with where you can find it in the Bible. Compare what you read with what you see onscreen. You will be so glad you read the book first!
- Cain and Seth (Tubalcain and Noah) – Genesis 4:13-26; Genesis 5:1-32
- Why the Flood and The Giants – Genesis 6:4-7, 11-12
- The Ark
- The description – Genesis 6:13-16.
- The purpose – Genesis 6:17.
- What to take onto the ark – Genesis 6:18-21; Genesis 7:2-9
- Noah and his family – Genesis 7:13; 22-23; 8:16
- The Olive Branch (leaf) – Genesis 8:11
- The Rainbow – Genesis 9:11-17
Discussion with Aronofsky and Handel
During the roundtable discussion in which I participated, Mr. Aronofsky asked us each to say where we were from (our press/media). I was about halfway around the table and he was surprised to hear WhatChristiansWantToKnow.com … I included that little bite at the beginning of this recording for you just for fun. The rest of the recording shares my questions along with the responses from both Mr. Aronofsky and Mr. Handel. Listen to the audio below:
Thumbs up and Parental Guidance Needed
This movie is rated PG-13 and truly parents should watch the movie before showing it to young children. There are some scenes of extreme violence, including a gruesome battle. As I mentioned earlier the movie is much more than the children’s story of Noah and the Ark.
I believe this movie will go on to be one of the best Bible stories presented on the big screen in almost fifty years. The movie was great and it caused me to dig a little deeper for answers in the Bible. I pray it will do the same for you.
What Will You Do About This Movie?
Some Christians will go see the movie with a very critical eye, others will go for the entertainment. Some won’t go at all. Clearly the Director and the Executive Producer admit that while they attempted to stay true to the words in Genesis and to “not contradict anything in the words of Genesis” they did purposefully “dramatize and humanize themes that were being put forward in the words of Genesis”. They indeed “violated expectations” for the viewer. This is why I want to encourage you to study the Biblical account of Noah and the flood and then go see the movie. Then when someone asks you about it you will be prepared to answer from a Biblical world-view rather than from a second or third opinion of what someone else says.
The movie NOAH talked much about justice and mercy but it did not talk about the grace of God. In fact, it never mentions the word “God” even once. The true Biblical story of Noah is of great significance to Christendom in that it points directly to the truth of salvation. Just as Noah believed God and did exactly what God told him to do, He was saved by grace through faith. Grace was given to Noah and his family and they accepted God’s grace. Noah preached and tried to convince others to believe God and they chose not to accept God’s grace — they perished in the flood. When we put our trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross we too are saved by grace through faith. Nothing we can do will merit our salvation from the penalty of death that we owe for our sinful actions (Ephesians 2:8-9). The only salvation we have is to believe in what Jesus did for us. Just as Noah chose to get on that ark to be saved (by God’s grace), we must choose to believe in what Jesus did personally for us to be saved from certain death which is the price we must pay for sin. Jesus died in my place. He paid my sin debt. He died in your place. He paid your sin debt. Do you believe this?
This article first appeared at WhatChristiansWantToKnow.com and has been reprinted here with permission.