For over a century now, Hollywood has been obsessed with Biblical epics. Blockbuster filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille’s fortune was partially built on not one but two different versions of “The Ten Commandments.” Let’s not forget box office hits like “Ben-Hur” and Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” “Noah” is the latest in the line of Tinseltown takes on God’s Holy Word.
I would imagine almost everyone knows the tale of Noah as it is told in Genesis Chapter 6 through 10 of the Bible. God tells Noah he is going to destroy the world through a flood because of how evil mankind has become. He instructs him to build an ark, which will hold two of every animal and the man’s family. God floods the Earth for forty days and forty nights. Noah, his family, and the animals are left to re-populate the planet after it’s all said and done.
Let’s be honest. No story ever brought to life on the big screen about the Bible has ever been 100% accurate. “The Ten Commandments” added all sorts of little side-stories to up the human drama. “Jesus of Nazareth” fills in gaps left open in the scriptures for interpretation. Director Darren Aronofsky does the same with “Noah” and adds it to a growing list of controversial-yet-successful religiously-based films.
I found “Noah” to be an entertaining and action-packed re-telling of the Biblical tale. Did Co-Writer/Director Aronofsky add things to it and fill in some gaps along the way? He sure did. However, I don’t think he stepped over the line into the region of irreverence or blasphemy. Aronofsky captures the essence of the story even if he does tend to add some ideas of his own to it as well.
Yes, there are rock monsters called Watchers that help Noah build the ark. They are fallen angels God banished to the Earth and cursed. They are looking for redemption and want to help Noah do the Will of the Creator to gain the Almighty’s forgiveness. What’s wrong with that? It doesn’t try to change the main gist of the story. There are verses in the Bible that talk about fallen angels living on the earth at that time.
Another complaint I’ve heard is that God wants to destroy the Earth because man has used up its natural resources and abused the animals. Many conservatives see this as the filmmaker pushing his own agenda and propaganda by making God and Noah into hippy environmentalists. However, it’s made very clear in the movie that this isn’t the only reason the Creator wants to kill off humanity. Noah takes a trip into the city and bears witness to all sorts of violence and degradation.
There are also those troubled over the fact that Noah loses his mind and misreads God’s messages. I really don’t see how this is that far off from the Noah of the Bible. He was not perfect by any means. The Bible makes it very clear that he was a drunkard and fornicator. I found Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Noah to be spot-on and showed the humanity and flaws in the Biblical hero many of us grew up hearing about in Sunday School class.
“Noah” is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content. I would imagine that scenes of people drowning and dying would be considered disturbing. There are two scenes of kissing and a tiny bit of sensuality, but no nudity to be found. People do battle each other and the rock monsters annihilate crowds of people trying to get on the ark when the rains come.
“Noah” might take some artistic license religious groups might find offensive. I prefer to look at the movie as an opportunity to get people talking about the Bible. As a Christian, I hope Darren Aronofsky’s film is giving audiences a reason to think about God, faith, the modern plight of man, and what their greater purpose or calling in life might be.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Author Paul Asay Discusses the Dark Knight and Religion in “God on the Streets of Gotham”
‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ Writer Scripting Behind-the-Scenes Bible Epic ‘Unholy Night’
“Charlton Heston Presents the Bible” DVD Review