I know, I know, what kind of crazy question is this? This year’s release of Noah is obviously based on, rather, inspired by, the biblical story of Noah. Why ask a silly question like the one you read in the title of this post?
Well, this movie got lots of criticism – from both sides. The religious folks criticized it for not being true to the biblical text found in Genesis, and some of the movie buffs said it was not the director’s (Darren Aronofsky) best stuff. If that’s the case, why are we even talking about this movie? Now not all reviews were bad. Some people, myself included, actually liked the movie. Truth be told, I may have enjoyed Evan Almighty (also inspired by the Genesis story of Noah) more than this version of Noah, but I did get lots out of this movie.
Back to my original question. When I watch movies, any kinds of movies, I look for redemptive themes of hope, grace, love, truth, etc. I enjoy discovering scenes in a film that point us to something bigger and better. We all know that life can be a drag and that, if we keep our heads down, we can caught in a rut pretty fast. Any kind of hint that there is something bigger than me, someone bigger than me, that cares, that loves, that makes me a better version of me, is a welcomed idea. Personally, I am convinced the ‘something bigger’ is God, revealed to us in Jesus. (just thought I’d lay my cards on the table up front)
In Noah, the movie, if they got it wrong or right, there are moments in this film that point us to God. Not just any god, but the God who created of the heavens and the earth. Here are some scenes/quotes for you to think about…
“When I see you, I see the man I once knew, the man I came to help”
This is a Rock person (a watcher) speaking to Noah. Even though these characters are fictional at best, something in this scene is beautiful. The biblical account tells us that Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. The Rock people see something in Noah they haven’t seen since Adam – God. Noah’s life reflected the Creator. Noah’s way of living pointed people to God. What’s beautiful in this scene is how a person can remind us or point us towards a God that we all long for. I hope that when people see me they see a reflection of Jesus. How about you?
“Noah, you must trust that he speaks to you in a way that you understand”
This line is from Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah. This is a funny relationship, mainly because Anthony Hopkins plays an interesting character who is obsessed with berries. However, what comes out well is a man’s struggle to understand the voice of God in their life. The biblical account simply says that Noah listened and obeyed. The only crack in the armour might come when Noah gets drunk (and naked), in what seems to be a very strange way to end this biblical account. Many people, if not all people, are intrigued with what it means to communicate with God; to be able to hear his voice; to understand what he is saying and how he calls us to live. This scene encourages one to develop that relationship. I want to be able to hear God’s voice, even if at times it’s a struggle, it’s a struggle worth having.
“My father says there can be no king, the Creator is the King”
This line comes from Ham as a response to Tabul-Cain. Tabul-Cain is the ‘bad guy’ in this movie; a descendant of Cain (Remember him? Adam’s son who killed his brother Abel and was thrown out of the garden?). Tabul-Cain’s world view is evil: he runs the show and God is long gone from here and therefore has no control over him or anybody. When Ham shows no knowledge of who he is, Tabul-Cain says, don’t you know who your king is (referring to himself)? Ham’s understanding of kingship is simple, God is the King. We see this theme in the Old Testament a lot. Israel wants to be like other nations, who have a human king and God is always trying to remind them that he is their king and any human form of kingship will come short. Noah had this right – God is one who leads and the one who Noah follows. Any other form of leadership will always come second to God.
“The wickedness is not just in them – it’s in us”
This may be my favourite part of the movie. Only because Noah shows humility by realizing that humanity (himself included) is broken, and therefore needs God to fix them. It’s so easy to look to others and call out their faults and sins. We often make ourselves feel better by pointing out the wrongs in others. However, Jesus said, don’t point out the spec in your brother’s eye when you have a tree trunk in yours. Noah may take this much too far in the movie (watch it for yourself to understand), but there is a deep truth here – If we don’t accept our brokenness and see it for what it is, we will never fully invite God to fix us and make us whole. He’s the only one who can.
“If you’re a man, you can kill”
“We are men, we decide whether we live or die”
These two lines from Tabul-Cain really set up a humanist kind of worldview. If we understand the world to be absent of God, then we actually think that we are in control of our own destiny. I’m not making a case against free will. One of the most beautiful thing’s God give us is ‘choice’. He doesn’t force us to do anything. However, when we place on our selves, the responsibility of someone else’s life or the ‘full’ control of ours for that matter, we are in over our head. When was the last time any human planned their birth or death day? Except for cases of suicide, which are very unfortunate, never. And what kind of mixed up society thinks that killing another human is a sign of maturity? That said, we watch the news and our current events expose many people like this – but I would say, and I hope you would to, that those people are living out an evilness that is opposite of the ways of Jesus. Real men and women are people of peace, not violence. Real men and women are humbled by the idea of being given an opportunity to live, and making the most of that opportunity until the day they die. Quickly read the beatitudes (Matthew 5) and you’ll see what living really is.
As you can see, this wasn’t a review or a critique. I’ll leave that for the experts. Here’s how we’ll close this out – Noah wasn’t a hit with some evangelicals. Noah made some religious people unhappy. You may have watched it and thought, really, they could’ve done better. However, like we should do everyday that we find ourselves immersed in our culture, look for things that point us upward – that inch us closer to God – that might nudge people in the direction of a God who loves them and wants them close to him. I look for that in as many places as I can find it. My God really is in more places than I think he is, if I open my eyes to it – even in a movie that didn’t get it all right. If nothing else, use this movie as a great conversation starter. You can point out differences from the biblical text if you so choose (and there are many), however, what may be better, is to find the places that lead the conversation towards God. Always with gentleness & respect. For more on that read, Colossians 4.