MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Parmount Pictures
Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly.
The story of Noah’s Ark has always been one of the most challenging tales in the Bible. The idea of a floating zoo with two animals of every kind has always amused children (and has fostered many toy sets that teach matching skills), but the concept of sin so severe that God would wipe humanity off the face of the earth – excepting Noah and his family – is dark enough to raise all kinds of theological questions. Where was God when all of this sinning was taking place? What is the connection between the rise of civilization and a developing disregard for God? What makes Noah a righteous person?
Director and co-writer Darren Aronofsky decided to mull these questions over. He consulted rabbis and other theological teachers and read midrash (Jewish writings that explore the questions behind the questions) to expand the narrative. He recruited Russell Crow and Jennifer Connelly to play Noah and his wife and then created a magnificent visual palette (primarily CGI) to tell this saga, including an ark that meets all of the cubit requirements.
The result is a fever dream of a disaster film depicting the first recorded end-of-the-world story. It has everything! Fire! Floods! Marauders! Young lovers (kind of)! Lions and tigers and birds (didn’t see bears)!
There’s only one important thing missing: The God of the Hebrew Scriptures. The clear message that Noah receives from God in Genesis is replaced by a mysterious dream and the self-doubt and struggles that come with receiving such a strange vision. The film also creates an extra-Biblical subplot about Ila (Emma Watson), a girl who is adopted as a baby by Noah and then becomes a cause of controversy for the rest of the film for a variety of reasons too numerous to mention.
Another major plot element is set in place by Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone), son of Cain and leader of a group of fallen warriors who plan to get on board the ark. We also have a couple of scenes with Methusalah (Anthony Hopkins), Noah’s grandpa. Yes, these characters are mentioned in the Bible but not in the way that writer-director Aronofsky imagines them.
So, if you are interested in a mythological epic similar to Clash of the Titans, Noah is entertaining enough and Russell Crowe makes Noah interesting from start to finish. But by making Tubal-Cain a sympathetic bad guy and Noah a conflicted (and potentially murderous) hero, what’s left is essentially a pagan saga that mirrors many of the parallel flood myths of other religions.
The film is serious in its storytelling (and accompanied by a stirring music score by Cliff Mansell) but also filled with many fantastic and frankly silly moments. You will learn from this movie how the ark was built, how the animals came aboard the ark, and how the animals were cared for once the voyage was underway – and each explanation is goofier than the last.
Finally – let me say it – this is not a film for young children (It’s rated PG-13 for a reason). They will be confused, bored and likely upset at various times. Come to think of it, so would your grandparents – leave them at home, too!
Two halos: A good performance by Russell Crowe stuck on an overstuffed ark of a movie.
Three pitchforks: Violence, implied immorality and sexuality, threats of death, and alcohol abuse – enough sin to flood the planet!
"Thanks for a review of this movie which points out that it is everything but a true account of what the Bible records. For Christians, don`t waste your money and time. Do tell your friends who are not Christians that it is not Biblically factual."
Pastor Gary Fitzgerald
Chandlersville U.M.C., Southern Hills District
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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