I don't write movie reviews for a lot of reasons. The biggest reason is that I'm way better with a camera than I am with a keyboard or a pen. But after seeing Darren Aronofsky's most recent film, Noah, and hearing what so many people are saying (Christians in particular...), I felt like I needed to say something. This will probably be all over the place, just try and stay with me...
Disclaimer: Let me make it clear that I'm a Christian. I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, and yes I read the Bible. These are my opinions on a piece of art, which is subjective. This particular piece of art is about an ancient story that is found in a lot of religions and golly you know people love to argue about that stuff. If you don't agree or if you think I made a mistake, that's great, leave a comment.
Oh, and Spoiler Alert... Duh.
Gosh where do I start with this movie... Well first off, I really liked it.
GASP! A CHRISTIAN LIKED THIS PIECE OF ATHEIST SMUT?!? Yep.
So many Christians have called this film smut, disgusting, blasphemous... blah blah blah.
^This is the top ad on Google when you search for "Noah Movie." That ad leads to this page:
This is at the top of Google! This is what a person possibly on the edge of loving Jesus could see and this is a great example of why people don't like Christians... Hate and Judgement.
This movie isn't a masterpiece, in fact it's far from it. However, even with it's shortcomings and it's departures from the original text, I loved it because it has made me think.
I've grown up a Christian, but one thing that is hard to accept is that God is not always clear with what He wants. If He can create the universe, surely He can just tell me what He wants me to do? Surely He can stop all the pain and suffering and death in the world? These are just a few examples of the questions that Noah brings to the table and then does not answer. But that's one of the reasons that I liked the film so much. When it comes to being a Christian, sometimes there are no answers, only more questions.
One things that Christians need to realize about the story of Noah, is that it isn't just our story.
The story of Noah is found in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Baha'i faith, and others. Hence why in the film, Noah never calls God, "God" or "Lord," but instead calls God "The Creator." Also, our story of Noah in the Bible is only 4 chapters long... THE ENTIRE STORY of Noah being chosen by God, Noah constructing the Ark, THE END OF THE WORLD, and the rebuilding of humanity is condensed down to approximately 1500 words in the Bible. Of course an artist's take on the story will be different than what the Bible says because what the Bible gives us is pretty concise.
Now to address some of the complaints I've heard from other people that have bothered me...
"Rock Monsters? Really? That's a little far-fetched"
Yeah, there are giant rock monsters in this film. They are The Watchers, fallen angels (Nephilim) imprisoned in stone that attempt to help Noah in hopes to redeem themselves. That's what #9 and #10 on that little ad thing are talking about. Let's start with #9 shall we...
#9 - The portrayal of The Nephilim is blasphemous - Ok. First off, it's a movie, get over it. Secondly, not entirely true... There are books that didn't make into the Bible (which was put together by man) that elaboration the story of Noah and The Watchers far more than the Bible. Those are the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees. These angels disobeyed God as they came to love humans. According to these texts, the fallen angels were cast in the Tartarus, a place of total darkness. However, God granted a few of the fallen angels freedom to remain on Earth. These books also state that part of the reason that God flooded the Earth was to rid it of the fallen angels. I'm not saying that these Watchers are accurate to how they really were, but how do we know? It's an artist's depiction of what a fallen angel would look like on Earth, and for me it works.
#10 - "Fallen angels don't go to Heaven when their 'bodies' die; they would go to hell." Really? You think you have the authority to make that statement? In the context of the movie, The Watchers die protecting Noah, his family, and The Ark from the corrupt people that are trying to overtake it. They sacrifice themselves for God's mission, He can forgive people, He forgives us... yeah that's all I'm going to say about that.
I could go on and on about people (Christians) complaining about how far-fetched certain aspects of the film were, but let's just take a second and think. This is a story about how one man built a massive ship with all the animals in the world and God flooded the entire world and killed everyone in order to start again... That in itself is far-fetched. If the creator of the entire universe wanted to make some rock monsters (as He did in the context of the film), I can accept that.
Once again, it's a movie, it isn't going to line up perfectly with what you have in your head. When we watch a film, we must have a certain suspension of disbelief. But in cases like this, I think that sometimes it's also important to have a suspension of preconceived ideas.
Ok, sorry about that little rant...Now onto the Spiritual/Mental aspects of the film. yay.
The second half of the film drags a bit as it takes place after the flood and on the Ark, but this was the part that was most interesting to me. The beginning of the second act shows how dark the story of Noah truly is. As Noah's family is safe inside the Ark, we hear the screams of thousands of dying people outside. This is a dark story, and something like that would take it's toll on anyone, even Noah.
Later, we learn that Emma Watson's character, Ila, is pregnant. This is a miracle as she was barren but was healed by her Grandfather. However, Noah has come to the conclusion that God's desire is to wipe out humanity entirely, and that they will be the last humans. When Noah discovers that Ila is pregnant, he is faced with the a difficult choice: to kill his granddaughters (oh, surprise she has twin girls) and end the human race, or to disobey what he believes is his mission from God.
At a crucial moment, Noah looks up to the sky and demands an answer from God. He is looking for guidance to follow through with a terrible plan, which he believes is God's plan. After staring at the sky, Noah becomes convinced from God's silence that yes, God does want him to kill his granddaughters. So he chases Ila up onto the roof of the ark and demands that she hand over her children. Noah prepares to plunge a dagger deep into his granddaughters. But he can't complete the task. “I had nothing but love for them,” Noah says of the twins later on.
As the film comes to an end, Ila explains to Noah that she believes this lack of communication from God was the whole point. God wanted Noah to have the choice. God will choose the path that allows the most glory to accrue to Him, and when God provided that choice, Noah’s choice of mercy is itself a reflection of God’s glory.
This story of Noah is a metaphor for the choice that the Christian God provides all of us in the form of free will. (My opinion, the debate between free will and predestination is never-ending)
God doesn't always come down in dreams or visions or hallucinations to inform Christians exactly what to do. As a result, we may not always choose correctly, but it is the fact that we have a choice reveals God’s true nature.
God operates in ways we do not understand. Another great example is the story of Job. God ruins Job's life, but at the end Job is still faithful and says, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised." But towards the end of the book, God actually speaks and responds by saying:
"Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7)
In other words... You're not God. You're not a creature of infinite power/knowledge. You cannot understand my ways.
The Bible compares Christians to "jars of clay."
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Cor 4:7)
A jar of clay was a pretty weak storage container in Bible times. That's like a tupperware today. Why would you keep anything precious in that?
That is the power of the Gospel. The idea that man, frail and corrupt, is the way that God chooses to spread his glory is a miracle in itself.
In Noah, we see this idea played out many times as Noah comes to terms with his own sins and realizing that there is hope in humanity after all.
So in conclusion, Go see this movie and make up your own mind.
If you're a Christian, take a friend that isn't, and talk to them about their thoughts afterwards. We should be excited that a Biblical story is in the mainstream right now, not condemning it! People are talking, questions are being asked, and that is how progress is made.