I’ve had over 36 hours to ponder the film “Noah” and, to be honest, I really don’t know where to begin.
I guess I would start by mentioning a bunch of the inaccuracies in this movie that Christians and Bible readers have read about, heard about and, I’m assuming, believed for many, many years. I might be a little bit generous is saying maybe 50 percent of the film is what Hollywood would call “fact-bases,” but the other stuff — WOW!
Some things simply stand out more than others. For instance, the word “God” was never used, though many references were made to “the Creator” so I give them credit for that. The run-through of creation was covered in about the first two minutes with a rapid video montage, but some also might confuse that opening with an example of the theory of evolution. (OK, it’s pretty obvious I’m writing this as a believer, using the word “theory” with “evolution.” So what? It’s my blog.)
The film begins in earnest with “The Fall” as almost alien-like caricatures of Adam and Eve are shown in the Garden of Eden, tempted by a fruit that looks like an apple, but is beating like a heart. We get a recap of how sin drove the first couple out of the garden and, once Cain kills Abel, how Cain’s descendants populated the world with more sin and environmentally destructive tendencies. Once “The Creator” decides that He has had enough, we are treated to a couple of dream sequences where Noah realizes it’s going to be water that destroys the world, not fire or plagues or anything else.
Noah is portrayed by Russell Crowe as a hard-working man of the land, which is pretty consistent with biblical teachings. He raises three sons — Shem, Ham and Japeth, the latter pronounced with a “short” A as in sand, not James — and they grow and prosper under the tutelage of Noah and his wife. This is where things got interesting, and troubling, for me. Noah and his family are befriended by rock creatures called “The Watchers,” though they look to me more like Transformer rejects. Internet research says that are mentioned in the book of Daniel during Nebuchadnezzar’s dream sequence, but more so in the books of Enoch as fallen angels. (Sorry, never read it.)
Thrown into the mix is Methuselah, Noah’s father, who dispenses Yoda-like wisdom which on a continuing hung for berries to quench his hunger. Then it gets really interesting.
In the movie, only Shem had a wife to take on board the ark with him. Ham found a girl as the rains began, but she was trampled when the masses started running for the ark once they realized the seriousness of the situation. Japeth seemed to be no more than a teenager. Also, Shem’s wife gave birth to twin girls about the same time the rain stopped and … well, I don’t want to spoil anything for you.
According to Genesis 7, “For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.”
The film does add some drama with a stowaway named Tubal Cain. He is mentioned in Genesis 4 as “a forger of all instruments of bronze and iron,” but that’s all we know of him. Those who believe know that he certainly did not join the others on the ark. I did like the part of how Noah and his family members walked through the bowels of the ark with what looked like incense burners to sedate the animals for their long journey. Possible? Sure, why not.
As a believer, a lot of the Hollywood drama bothered me, particularly The Watchers and the exclusion of wives on the ark. I also tried to look at it from the perspective of a non-believer and all I could think of was, “Really? That stuff really happened?”
Bottom line: If you’re looking for Biblical inspiration from this movie, there is some, but not enough to outweigh the made-up stuff that helped produce some drama. My wife noted that early in the movie, when “The Watchers” helped Noah and his family, one couple got up and left, never to return. We also heard a number of comments in the lobby from people planning to head home to reread the account of Noah. Others mentioned “I must have missed that chapter” or variations on that them.
As entertainment, “Noah” is what you might expect from a disaster movie. As history, well … enter the theatre at your own risk.