Film Review: Noah

Like most Christians my curiosity was piqued months ago when I first saw the trailer for Noah. You could almost hear the collective “Hallelujah!” as many were excited at the mere thought of Hollywood producing a Bible story. Finally! We’ll have something to watch other than the Passion of the Christ.

Then the controversy started which, by the way, will always exist; that’s why we have denominations after all. Apparently some people weren’t so excited about a non-Christian telling a Bible story. Some say it promotes evolution. Some say Darren Aronofsky is an atheist or agnostic. Some boycotted the film (without seeing it) for any number of personal, religious convictions. Personally I was even more intrigued and eager to see it because of the controversy. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

A note to my Christian friends: If you plan to see it, go this weekend. There is no other factor that influences Hollywood more than the success or failure of a film’s opening weekend. Hollywood is not interested in your opinion; they’re interested in your money. Vote with your wallet and tell them there is a huge market willing to see more films like this.

To those who are opposed to the film I respect you for sticking to your convictions, yet I challenge you to follow the advice of Michelangelo: “Criticize by creating.” Perhaps then you’ll understand why Noah is a film to be celebrated for it’s accomplishments, rather than degraded for it’s shortcomings.

SPOILER ALERT: Everybody dies.

More details after the jump…

noah-movie-poster

The Story:

In the early scenes of the film we see a world still echoing with the magic of creation. The sky is radiant with stars and galaxies visible even during the day time. Life literally bursts forth from the ground. It’s as if the paint hasn’t yet dried on earth’s canvas.

Then we see the depravity of mankind from the lineage of Cain, almost an avalanche of evil trying to counterattack the beauty that once ruled creation. There in the midst of this tension we find a boy named Noah who is just as confused as you or I would be. What follows is his attempt to do what’s right, protect his family, and honor the Creator.

Now, the film doesn’t claim to be Biblically accurate. It was inspired by the story of Noah, and it’s better off because of it. It would have been much easier and far less controversial to tell the story exactly as it happened in the Bible, but there are two unavoidable problems with that.

1.) The Bible is not a screenplay.

2.) There will always be people who disagree with any given interpretation.

So rather than sticking to the text they imagined what it could have been like. That pivotal distinction is the single greatest contribution to the film. It required them to think through every detail, which resulted in better cinematic storytelling as well as characters that are more relatable than the version we read in the Bible. It triggered my imagination and caused me to think about the story in new ways. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Putting my pre-conceived notions aside, however, proved more challenging. I had to consciously suspend some things I’ve always known or believed, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised. If it weren’t for the artistic liberties they took I never would have considered the faith of Noah’s wife, or the possibility of putting the animals to sleep, or the dilemma of fallen angels, or where they got the lumber, etc.

Arguably the biggest departure from the traditional story takes place inside the ark, but from a filmmaking perspective it would have been boring without the added drama. Can you imagine being trapped on a boat with your family for months at a time? No one to call. No books to read. Not even a deck of cards to play. You’d go nuts, and Noah did too. Considering all that happened I don’t blame him for ending up passed-out drunk and naked when they finally found land, not to mention that his next task was to repopulate the earth. You know, no big deal for a dude who’s over 500 years old.

Complaints:

I can’t remember the last time Christians complained about a film that contains no profanity, no sex, and no drug use; but still there are those who won’t even give it a chance.

My complaints are mostly technical and personal stuff. For example some of the special effects weren’t all that special, and there were moments when I became detached from the film. …like when the little girl asked Noah to sing. I halfway expected Russell Crowe to start belting out, “One more day ’til revolution…” after his less than awesome vocal performance in Les Mis, but I digress.

Really my only complaint about the film boils down to a lack of immersion (no pun intended). I wasn’t fully engrossed in the story like I was with Gravity or Avatar, but I suspect that’s because I was consciously comparing it to the Noah I’ve always imagined.

In conclusion:

For the first time I feel like I can understand and relate to Noah and his family. It sparked my imagination and drove me to dig deeper into the Bible. Was it accurate to Scripture? Not even close. Was it a good story? Absolutely!

I, for one, hope to see more films like this, especially if they are controversial. After all, it’s the tension that drives us to do what’s right, protect our family, and honor the Creator. I guess we’re all kinda like Noah in that way.


 

 

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