The Aftermath of the Flood


Last night a few guys from Cornerstone headed over to the theatre to check out the new blockbuster movie Noah and sat down over some (really excellent) food to talk about it afterwards. It was an interesting discussion. Now that I’ve had a bit of time to process, I’d like to take a minute to share a few thoughts on the movie and provide you with a couple of links if you’d like to dig in deeper.

Thar be spoilers ahead!

The movie was both better and worse than I’d expected. It’s got big visuals and some interesting takes on the Ark and how the animals were arranged. They did a phenomenal job at showing the scale of it, and the idea that it fit two of every kind was easy to digest. On the other side, they knocked the animals out with some sort of magical smoke that let them sleep through the entire thing. The special effects were consistently good, the score was fantastic, and there were several points that I was really drawn in. Methuselah was hilarious.The movie as a whole, though, is dark. Really dark. Don’t let your kids anywhere near this movie dark. Most of the evil is implied rather than shown, but there is a scene with a dog being torn limb from limb while still alive that I found deeply disturbing. You certainly don’t get to walk out of this movie singing songs about kangaroosies on the arky. It drives home the reality of humanity -men, women and children -being wiped off the face of the earth in a brutal and terrifying manner. That’s in the Bible, though. Most of the movie isn’t.

Some of the movie was strange and fantastical. The presence of “zohar” as some sort of spiritual mineral. The “watchers,” who are portrayed as angels that came to help mankind but were punished by being trapped in rock-bodies played a much larger role in the movie than I was expecting. Some of the pre-flood animals are just weird.

There are a lot of people out there that are very upset that Noah seems to diverge from or fill in what is given in the Genesis 6-9 account. They feel like the trailer gave a bit of a bait and switch. Where the trailer heavily implies Noah relying on God for help and protection, what he really has is an army of Rock Ents. They feel like there is radical and unjustified departures from the text for the sake of Hollywood film making. The issue is that the Bible’s Genesis account of the Flood isn’t the source material behind the movie.

This movie, for the most part, bypasses Genesis and goes to sources that the Early Church branded Gnostic heresies, or special mystical knowledge from Secret Religions like Kabalah (who’s primary text is called the Zohar, by the way). It reaches into the book of 1st Enoch for information about The Watchers, and even then takes them from being fallen angels who brought war to mankind and are awaiting due punishment to misunderstood benevolent martyrs who long to go back to heaven.

In short, the film makers did everything they could to take a story that Christians would be drawn to and make it about how human will triumphs over everything, and God, if he’s there at all, is silent. God is a monster. The snake is a hero that brings the blessing of wisdom and special knowledge to humanity. It’s a hot mess. The thing is, if you’re not looking for it, it’s easy to miss or dismiss. It’s relatively subtle compared to how BIG the action is.

After having watched it, I can say that I wholeheartedly do not recommend it. If you want to see it as a movie for its own merits, go ahead, but don’t go with any expectation that it’s about the Noah or the God of the Bible.

Further reading:

http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil
http://http://godawa.com/movieblog/subversion-serpent-aronofskys-noah/

 

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About Aaron Mark Reimer

Aaron Mark Reimer was born in 1980 on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and his parents promptly moved him west to Ontario. He is a pastor, a writer, a speaker, a musician, and a bit of a geek. Published works include The Art of Being Broken, Worshipping Through John: A Devotional For Praise Teams, and a short story about going to Jupiter with his dad that he wrote when he was seven. He has one wife (Vanessa), two sons (Dúnadan and Taliesin), and many cats. Follow him on Twitter as @IAmAnErrorMaker

Posted on April 9, 2014, in Christianity, Church, God, life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the post – will definitely give this one a miss!

    Mom

  2. Aronofsky and Handel are secular Jews, so they can’t be expected to make a Christian movie . . . or even an entirely Jewish one. Some of the departures from the Bible are due to sources in the Jewish midrash and Zohar. Others have to do with taking God out of the picture as a clear and present character in the story. And others are due to the tropes required to make a big Hollywood action flick. (That’s where “the Watchers” and Tubal-cain as villain come in.) If you’re interested, I recently posted on my blog a review comparing the movie to the Bible on several major points.

    • Thank for the comment, Lee. Most Christians don’t have knowledge or think about competing Judeo-Christian mystery creation myths, or have familiarity with pseudepigraphical writings like the book of Enoch, so it comes as a big surprise when elements from them appear in a movie that was (to be fair), marketed to Christians as largely a form of Biblical midrash. Even there, you’re right, the film makers depart from their source material to serve the story that they think would be best on the big screen.

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