Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
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|Featuring:||Russell Crowe … Noah
Emma Watson … Ila
Jennifer Connelly … Naameh
Logan Lerman … Ham
Douglas Booth … Shem
Anthony Hopkins … Methuselah
Kevin Durand … Og
Marton Csokas … Lamech
Ray Winstone … Tubal Cain
Sami Gayle … Sami
Nick Nolte … Samyaza
Frank Langella … Azazel
|Director:||Darren Aronofsky—“Black Swan”|
“It’s a very, very different movie. Anything you’re expecting, you’re f***ing wrong.” These are the words of director Darren Aronofsky and they pretty much sum up the film. It is “different” from the Bible in almost every way, and it is “f***ing” disrespectful to those of us who are “expecting” a movie about the Biblical Noah.
First, let me review the film ascetically from a purely secular standpoint. Was it a good film without regard for its Biblical authenticity? Frankly, it was not. Aronofsky is known for his dark and depressing films, and “Noah” is no exception. The film has a dark brooding and violent tone from beginning to end. The “redeeming” quality of the film is muted by Aronofsky’s obsession with melancholy brooding. Even if I did not believe the Bible to be the Word of God, I would find this film unpleasant and only moderately entertaining.
The story itself, owing little to the Bible, is a mixture of myth, fantasy, and drama. Noah is troubled by visions and pieces together that the world will be flooded. He seeks to save his family from the coming Flood, but is attacked by the tribal king who eventually stows away aboard the Ark. Noah, believing that mankind must die out, plots to kill his grand-daughters and insure that his children never breed. The film climaxes with a battle aboard the Ark between Tubal-Cain and Noah, while Shem’s wife gives birth to twin daughters whom Noah plans to kill. Will Noah keep his promise to God to kill the girls?
In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, this is “the least Biblical Bible film ever,” as Aronofsky himself has stated. Herein lies the greatest problem. If he wanted to make a fantasy film about the antediluvian age, then he would have been better served making a film about Gilgamesh or Satyavarman (the Hindu version). Since virtually every culture contains a Flood story (because it really happened), this would have been better, for the film has almost no relation to the Biblical Noah at all. However, since the film was billed as a Biblical movie, the outright anti-Biblical, and even Luciferic, derivations are important to understand. To save space I will only comment on the most important alterations.
Undoubtably the most bizarre addition to the Bible is the now trendy Luciferism subplot. For those who are not familiar with this now cliché plot point, Luciferism is when rebellion against our Creator is portrayed as noble or sympathic in nature. In this case, this is literally true. The Watchers (the name given to demons in the Book of Enoch and this film) “wanted to help man” because they “took pity on them,” but God cast them out for disobeying his orders.
I remember the scene in the trailer where Tubal-Cain says to Noah “you stand alone and defy me,” and Noah replied “I am not alone.” The audience cheered, thinking that Noah was referring to God, but alas he was not. When he said “I am not alone,” the Watchers (demons) arose to help him. It is not God, but demons, to whom Noah was referring. These Watchers then help Noah build the Ark and die defending the Ark from Tubal-Cain. Apparently the demons are redeemed as their souls go up to Heaven.
This is not the only Luciferism in the film, however. There is a large amount of imagery of the serpent which shed his skin in the Garden. That skin was then passed down to Noah who uses the snake skin in several strange rituals. In other scenes, hundreds (if not thousands) of snakes are seen crawling aboard the Ark. Finally, Noah himself is a Lucifer symbol, because when he refuses to kill his grand-daughters in the climax of the film, he is portrayed as defying God’s will (or at least he believes he is defying God). Luciferism is thus a dominant plot point throughout the film and completely at odds with the Bible. In this film, demons are sympathetic, but God is not so much sympathetic. He is a distant impersonal God who never once speaks to Noah.
As I mentioned earlier, part of the subplot of the film involves Noah’s desire to see the human race extinct. To that end, he plans to kill his own grand-daughters. Naturally, his sons want to defend their daughters/sisters. Both Shem and Ham attempt to kill Noah aboard the Ark at one point in the film. This bizarre subplot is supposed to highlight the question of whether or not man is “worth saving,” but this very question is a secular one. God saves us because He loves us; not because we deserve to be saved. It is then ironic that Noah is portrayed as a borderline psychopath who deserves to be saved because there is goodness in his heart, somewhere.
Aronofsky calls Noah the “first environmentalists.” That environmentalism is not only apparent throughout the film, but extreme and inaccurate. Contrary to the Biblical picture (and one supported by science) of a plush world, Aronofsky shows the Earth as barren desert and rock, having been destroyed by man. When Noah gives the Creation story to his children, he says “our fragile Earth was born.” Indeed, this is how radical environmentalists see the Earth—fragile. In fact, while we are to care for the Earth which was entrusted to us, God did not make the Earth some fragile paper mâché world. It has survived catastrophes like… a global Flood!
What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer
Aside from the major problems listed above, there are countless inaccuracies. Ham wanders off alone without a wife; the animals are put to sleep in the Ark; the animals are not two by two and boarded together; Methuselah is portrayed as Shaman; only Shem has a wife; etc. The list of inaccuracies is too long to list here. It is easier to portray what was accurate. First, there is a guy called Noah. He builds an Ark with animals. The fountains of the deep accompany the rain waters and hurricanes are seen encompassing the Earth. Most everything else has no relationship to the Bible, at all.
“Noah” is a violent film. There are numerous scenes of blood and warfare and several animals have their throats slits or stomachs cut open. Blood splatters on Ham in one scene, and in another a dead animal’s insides spray out on a mass of people who are killing one another and raping countless women (no graphic sex or nudity is shown). In addition to this, there is some brief nudity as Noah’s drunkenness is shown; it may be a body-double, the camera is far off and does not focus on his behind. The viewer should also be aware that there is a lot of magic and mysticism in the film, which I only briefly touched upon above.
A lot has been said about this movie. Russell Crowe even went so far as to call people like Ken Ham “stupid” for commenting on a film he claims they haven’t seen. Well, I have seen it, and Ken Ham’s warnings are mild, as I was not prepared for the overt Luciferism.
Two questions remain. First, does Hollywood need a tutorial in how to market films? Insulting your target audience, as was done throughout the promotions, is not a good marketing strategy. Know your audience. We are not fools. Evangelics have an average of two more years of college than the average person. If you want to market to us, understand us, don’t talk down to us, and don’t insult us. More importantly, don’t hire an atheist to make Biblical films.
The second question is whether or not we should “support” films of this kind. Some Christians have argued that this is a good thing. They say that it is an opportunity to talk about the Bible and that if we don’t support films like this Hollywood will not make them anymore. To the second part, I say, please don’t. It is better not to have a “Bible film,” if the Bible is just going to be mocked. To the first part, I say that we do not have to like or support an un-Biblical “Biblical film” to talk about it. We can talk about it without supporting it. If we support it, then we are supporting its message, and its message is not a Biblical one.
In the final analysis, Noah is a huge waste of $160,000,000. The special effects are not bad, but the Watchers are frankly silly looking. I was somewhat reminded of the Tree Ents from “The Lord of the Rings,” but vastly inferior. Moreover the film gives the impression that the world was a barren desert, and there seemed to be only a small population of a few thousand people led by Tubal-Cain. It seemed to me that if one wanted to make a story about the ante-diluvian world (even from a secular perspective), the story could have been ripe with richness. Instead, I felt like I was watching cave men fighting rock giants on a deserted alien planet. I recommend that families stay home and avoid this film.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
ALSO, see informed review from our ChristianAnswers team member Answers In Genesis:
• “Noah Movie Review: An Unbiblical Film”
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…numerous dramatic fabrications …heavy-handed ecological doomsday messages …fantasy-style spectacle… a whole forest takes instantaneous shape at Noah’s convenience and there is far more swordplay and fighting than one ever imagined in this story. …by far the most startling apparition in this context are the Watchers, the so-called Nephilim… Here they take the form of giant, ferocious-looking rock people… who not only come to Noah’s aid by doing the heavy lifting in building the ark but cut down, stomp on and otherwise decimate the hordes who eventually besiege the ark in hopes of climbing aboard at the last minute. …
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
…murky, ill-conceived take on the world’s oldest disaster story contains some of the most pristine visuals produced on a mass studio scale in some time. But it’s also constantly tethered to a dull, melodramatic series of events out of whack with any traditional interpretation of the material. By turning the monolithic odyssey into a sword-and-sandals showdown with occasionally cosmic tangents, the 137-minute studio venture contains the glimmers of a truly visionary achievement flooded by half-baked ideas. …
—Eric Kohn, Indiewire
…“Noah” mostly proves frustratingly ponderous… Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel have greatly expanded the Noah narrative… but they fail to come up with characters or scenarios that are all that captivating. …tension between the believable and the fantastical consistently undercuts Noah: The movie wants to be a love story, a family drama, a war movie and a disaster film, but the different tones and genres aren’t properly integrated. …
—Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
…Man builds ark, survives flood, then wonders what it was all for…
—Scott Foundas, Variety
The utter embarrassing mess of “Noah” and why everybody is lying about it—Tragically, as Western Civilization continues to decay all around us, one thing remains unmuddled: everything is politics. And nowhere is that more true than in media. The same polarization that fired Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and then got him rehired, and made Mel Gibson $600 million, and then lost him his Hollywood career, and made half the world want to canonize Roman Polanski with the other half wanting him castrated—these are the same social causes propelling the embarrassingly awful horribleness of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah,” into an 76% fresh rating from the shameless, agenda-driven critics at RottenTomatoes.com, and setting so many Christian leaders and critics into shilling for the same. Please, stop the madness.
It is astounding to me how Christians can be lured into a defense of the indefensible because they are so afraid of the charge of “unreasonableness.” Trying so hard to be nice, we end up being patsies for people who have no other agenda than to make money off of us. …
—Barbara Nicolosi, Church of the Masses
“VOTING” FOR BAD MOVIES—Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote anti-Biblical programming? Are YOU part of the problem?