I never go to a movie based on a Biblical story expecting complete accuracy. Even when written and directed by believers in the Scriptures, there are often storylines that, for the sake of time or creativity, change details.
So with an open mind and a love for God’s word, I carried my notebook into the matinee to watch the new release, “Noah.” With all the controversy about this movie, I was expecting there to be troubling themes that would not support the important subjects such as man’s fall and God’s provision and protection. In these areas, I was pleasantly surprised.
The storyline began with Noah’s father teaching him about the fall of Adam and Eve (the parents of us all, the script says). The audience sees Satan’s disguise as a snake and witnesses how he tempted men’s hearts and led us into sin. Noah’s father also teaches the son that our strength comes from the Creator. Noah is exhorted to “walk along side the Creator in righteousness.”
As an adult, Noah struggles in this movie to protect his family from the wicked sons of Cain—the first murderer—and is aided in protecting them by angels called “The Watchers.” (more about them later)
His grandfather, Methuselah, is his spiritual mentor who, in cinematic style, allows Noah to envision direction from the Creator to build the ark to save not just the animals of the earth, but mankind itself. The wickedness of people has reached such proportions that judgment time has come.
And thus the building of the vessel that saves Noah and his family begins, showing the accurate shape of the ark as a long oblong box, which is according to the instructions in the Bible that God gave.
For the most part, I loved this movie. Cinematically, it was beautiful with the benefit of CGI that lent itself perfectly to this creative depiction. One of my favorite views was during the flood, showing the view from the sky. The entire earth is shown as if it was a satellite image, with storms swirling over the whole world. Very dramatic and a surprising view of what it must have been like.
I also loved the theme of the middle son, Ham, who struggled with his belief in God from childhood. Very effective.
One of the most memorable lines of the movie was the King of Canaan staring into Noah’s face, spitting out the words, “And you stand alone.”
Noah looks at him and replies, “I’m not alone.”
Indeed, he was not.
Many believers struggle with the fact that the title “God” is not used in this movie. But the repeated references to The Creator made it quite clear to me exactly Who the characters are speaking about. I have no problem with this and wonder why Creationists would.
One of the more dramatic scenes shows Noah, dressed in disguise, seeking wives for his sons in the enemy camp. He is so overcome by the depravity of men’s hearts, he returns to the nearly built ark in shock. His family presses for an explanation to his silent behavior. He says in a frantic whisper, “The wickedness is not just in them—it’s in all of us.”
This revelation for Noah of his own sin nature impacts much of the ensuing scenes in the ark itself. The writers took a few astonishing liberties with the Bible story, causing this reviewer to groan. The problem is, since so little is known about the actual events on that journey, the writers seemed to be grasping for dramatic conflict. Most writers understand the importance of keeping the action moving to retain one’s audience—but the plots that ensued disappointed this viewer since they were not consistent with the story as a whole.
Still, the events on the Ark—listening to the screams of the dying in the flood as well as trying to discern God’s will and plan for his family—did provide explanation for Noah’s behavior in a later scene on land, actually depicted in the Genesis account.
An aspect of the movie that rated “Five Groans” on a scale of five, was the Ent-like animated creatures who portrayed the Watchers. It was like imagining “Lord of the Rings” meets “Star Trek” in the Old Testament. Can’t we use a phaser and get rid of those images?
Despite my disappointment about the scenes on the Ark and the images of the animated creatures, there was much to celebrate about this movie. They showed the door of the ark being closed by the hand of God. They emphasized the pride of man and the need for mercy. They didn’t mince words about sin, evil or temptation.
And it was a movie about an actual Bible story.
If you are a person who believes any depiction of a Biblical story should be straightforward and accurate in every detail, you will not like this movie. Much artistic license is taken with many scenes and in the fabricated plot lines. However, it is the creative composite of visuals, storyline and message that make this a fascinating retelling of the Bible story of Noah.
Even if the motive of the producers was just to make money, God can still use it to draw people into reading the actual story in Genesis—a true story about pride, sin and redemption. A true story that we all need to hear.