I finally got some time to check out the Darren Aronofsky film Noah everyone has been talking about. My Facebook feed has been filled with Christians sharing the pros and cons of the film for days now. I hadn’t seen it yet so I stayed quiet. (A strategy others may want to consider)
But now I have and…
… I really enjoyed it!
It was a good movie that had some great parts.
Understand though I am not an Aronofsky fan. His last movie, the Academy Award winning Black Swan, I could only watch for half the film before shutting it off and regretting the hour of my life I had wasted on it.
But Noah is strong film making; A wonderfully told tale of the human condition with all of our tragedy and beauty laid bare for the audience to experience.
I do understand a lot of friends were concerned at some of the liberties taken in the movie. But other than the “rock angels” (which are admittedly a big stretch) Aronofsky simply supplies motive and emotions to the principal characters which the Bible remains largely silent on.
A lot of the details of the Noah story, we really don’t know!
Noah is really “us”
The part of the movie I struggled with the most was while Noah’s family are on the ark they discover that Shem’s wife is pregnant. Aronofsky’s Noah is convinced that it is God’s desire that all humanity die. He believes when the creatures they have rescued are safely delivered after the flood his family will live out their lives and then die one by one allowing creation to go on without Mankind’s wickedness.
Because of this Noah announces that if the child Shem’s wife is carrying is a boy he will allow it to live and die naturally but if it is a girl he will “strike her down” immediately as a woman could become a mother to a new race of humans.
Everyone is horrified and as the pregnancy develops Noah becomes more and more insane as he internally tries to reconcile his natural heart of mercy with obedience to God and the judgement he requires.
I found the whole sequence really disturbing…
…and then I realized why.
Noah is US! More than likely the real Noah had no such internal dilemma but Aronofsky’s Noah had the classic religious struggle that has wrecked lives both inside and outside the church for centuries.
* Noah thinks he knows God’s will!
* God’s will demands judgement which Noah doesn’t really understand
* Noah believes that judgement trumps any love or forgiveness he may feel
* By conveying judgement rather than love Noah feels he is remaining “faithful” to God.
* By remaining “faithful” to a warped understanding of God’s will, Noah wrecks havoc in the lives of those he cares about most.
Its only when mercy and compassion are finally extended that the relational healing between Noah and his family can begin to take place.
And then it hit me!
When Noah was at his most demented I suddenly saw
* every hell fire and damnation preacher.
* every prophet who proclaims coming judgement on America because of the iniquity of her sins.
* every parent who cut off relationship with a child because they were gay, joined another faith, got pregnant etc.
* every protester, blogger, speaker, and teacher who has projected their warped image of God and his nature to the world.
They do it because they think they are doing God’s will!
They know what God wants…and like Aronofsky’s Noah, they don’t.
Stewards of the Earth
Finally, one of the elements I particularly enjoyed in the film was the focus Noah had on continuing God’s commission to mankind that we be the stewards of creation. We are to cultivate and nurture the earth!
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
Then God said, “I’ve given you
every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth
And every kind of fruit-bearing tree,
given them to you for food.
To all animals and all birds,
everything that moves and breathes,
I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.”
And there it was.
Genesis 1: 28-30 The Message
There is a beautiful scene when the family is in the ark. The storm is raging all around them so Noah recounts the story of creation as told through Genesis to his wife and children. Its was a beautifully shot scene and a wonderful reminder of what God blessed us with “in the beginning”
Of course that “stewards of the Earth” message did have its detractors. One blog writer warned;
the early reports indicate that the Noah film will not be in line with the Biblical account of Noah’s ark and the flood, but instead will push a liberal, political message focused on the environmental agenda.
Apparently someone forgot to tell God back in Genesis 1 that he was pushing ”a liberal, political message focused on the environmental agenda.”
Does Noah have its flaws? Certainly. Its not a great movie but it had some great moments.