Noah is the new movie loosely based on the biblical narrative found in Genesis from director Darren Aronofsky. This movie has faced controversy since even before it’s release, with Christians worried about how a proclaimed atheist would portray something they take seriously. As a film it has great acting, fantastic effects and a story that might be more interesting if it was not based on something so many see as sacred.
There are a few things that Aronofsky does well in this film. One, he shows clearly the reasons why “The Creator” (What God is called all throughout the movie) wants to destroy humanity. The depravity seen is rampant and disturbing. People are shown trading teenage girls for food, there is murder, chaos and misuse of creation in every way possible. This is humanity at is basest, with it’s evil core completely exposed. Sin has infected everyone. Secondly, the idea of sin in all people is reenforced when Noah himself realizes that he and his family are not righteous. There is a clear representation of the biblical refrain, “none is righteous, no not one”. These are powerful reminders of the impact that sin has had on the world since Adam and Eve took life into their own hands and chose themselves over God.
A friend of mine said about Noah, “Even in the truth, it is twisted somehow”. There are quite a few examples of this. Tubal Cain, a descendant of Cain and the main antagonist in the film, uses the truth of God’s command to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” and yet twists it for his own advantage. He uses it for justification to curse “The Creator” and do as he damn well pleases (a paraphrase of his own words). He subjugates people as well as strip mines the earth, caring for nothing but himself; a pattern that all the peoples of the earth follow except for line of Seth (Which Noah is the last of). Tubal Cain also uses the fact that man is made in God’s image to his benefit. To him, it gives man the place of God on earth and therefore he can rule and reign as he sees fit.
Each of these things has a part of the truth in them. Man was called, by God to subdue the earth, to be his representation and care for all that God had created. This meant respect for all God had created, beast, environment and people. God also had created only man in his image and therefore set them apart from all other created things. Again this great power came with immense responsibility. We were not indented to destroy this world and others for our benefit, but to nurture creation, caring for it as our very own as well as following God by creating ourselves. Sadly Aronofsky so misrepresents the truth that it becomes unrecognizable and seen as evil.
Perhaps the biggest misrepresentation in the film comes from the silence of “The Creator”. Noah is left much to his own devices because the visions and dreams that he gets from “The Creator” are sufficiently vague to leave him in the dark as to want he is suppose to do. He gets enough to know that he should build an ark and that the animals will be saved through this vessel. What is not explained to him is that God is also saving his family. Noah comes to believe that because of his inherent wickedness as well as his family’s, that they should be the last humans. The earth will be left to care for itself. He has absolutely no understanding of being made in God’s image and that, that makes humanity something God would want to save. All the drama in the film comes from ignoring the source material. In the movie God might be vague, but in Scripture, God could not be clearer.
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. (Genesis 6:11-22 ESV)
God is so clear to Noah, not only is he told to why the flood is coming, he is told exactly how to build the boat as well as why he and his family will be saved. It is not from Noah’s righteousness, it is because God is making a covenant with him.
It is amazing the difference between a God who speaks and one who is mostly silent. In the movie, Noah is left to try interpret God’s wishes. Noah is told that God chose him and gave him the decision as to whether humanity continued or not. In the end, the movie is about a vengeful God’s wrath and the mercy of a human. When in reality, the true story was about God and his grace towards Noah, because even in Noah’s obedience, the same sin courses through his very being. Francis Schaeffer said about God, he is there and he is not silent. Thank God we do not live in a world like that portrayed by Aronofsky, with a god who speaks in vague generalities leaving us to our own devises. Genesis says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… And God said…”. He has spoken, the question is, do we want to listen to what he has to say or make our own way. It is the same choice Adam and Eve had; what will you choose?