I was slightly apprehensive about seeing this film. I had read a few articles online about the film; clearly I was in for an amazing new cinema hit but what I was unsure about was the comments on ‘Noah’ not representing God in the way He deserves. After watching it, I believe this was accurate. Clearly, this film was made by a man, who was read this story to as a child, and who has ended up following his passion to make a fantastic film with the main points of the story clearly pinpointed. But, from looking back at this story in Genesis, children’s Bibles tell the tale, not the message behind it, and without the message, it’s hard see the ‘God’ in it. As Darren Wilson, the filmmaker of ‘Finger of God’ says, ‘[Darren Aronofsky] definitely deserves credit—he created a film that is wholly his own, wholly his vision. But therein lies the problem.’
As a film, I was greatly impressed. It included all you would want in a film – explosions, fantastic CGI, a brilliant war scene, love, death, and Russell Crowe. The camera skills were great, with lots of different cuts, angles and techniques such as stop motion to perfectly capture the time-passing and action going on in the film. Look out for the creation story dotted throughout the film – some say it is worth going to see the film, just for those bits! Even more so, I was impressed with the inclusion of the back story of Adam and sin being introduced into the human race. I think it is easy to romanticise this story, focussing on the animals coming two-by-two and the rainbow at the end. However, it actually tells a tale of great faith and struggle, as well as hope, starting in Genesis 5 which puts the story into context, before the flood even begins in Genesis 7.
Plus, Aronofsky definitely created characters that all look up to a powerful creator, which views God correctly on his throne. No one in the film denies the possibility of a higher power, and God’s creation is treasured by those who appreciate him as the creator, to the point of not even picking flowers out of the ground. However, I was confused by the fact that no one laughed at or challenged Noah on his mission; instead, they just wanted to stop him. ‘Tubal-Cain’, played by Ray Winstone, often says to Noah during the film ‘I’m not afraid of a miracle’, showing he believes in the miracles, but just wants to be safe on the ship too, his problem being that he thinks violence is the only way. Although, after reading back on the story in the Bible, there is no record of anyone challenging Noah in that way, which I guess lead Aronofsky open to interpret Noah’s challenges from others in whatever way he felt led.
“Aronofsky solidly portrayed the Bible’s message of hope.”
After watching the film, it raised a lot of questions in me, so I rushed home to check out the Bible’s account of Noah, but my questions were not quite solved. I came away from the film feeling like it had poorly represented the God I love, a God of forgiveness, and turned him into an extremely punishing God. However, the Bible tells the story no differently. I understand how as humans we let God down so much that he needed to destroy the whole world to start afresh, but what is challenging for me, is that this story in the Bible does portray a punishing God, and causes me to wonder if there really was no forgiveness for anyone besides Noah’s family. I struggle with the loss of creation that God had made, in the deaths of so many people, and how God would allow that to happen.
This leads onto one of the most inspiring aspects of the story, portrayed greatly in the film – Noah’s faith. And boy does he have a lot of it! He believes in what God is telling him, and follows this through to the end, even when he is in doubt of his strength. This is something we should all learn from. Having faith in what God is telling you to do is so powerful when we do it.
After re-reading the story in the Bible, another question I had from the film’s representation is when Noah feels that God wants to stop humanity and says to his daughter ‘God is not smiling’ over her expected children. Noah even goes as far as wanting to kill his daughter’s offspring. However this part is not written in the Bible, and instead is just added in by Aronofsky.
God’s power to provide is so evident in this film like when God makes trees grow around Noah’s family in an unfertile land. The trees grow in a matter of seconds so that Noah has enough wood to build the ark. This is not only beautiful, but a great representation of how God sometimes provides in miraculous ways. Now that’s the God I know and have experienced! If God can bring people back to life, then I have no doubt in him growing a forest of trees quickly. Noah says that’s what is giving him faith when his son is in doubt, which I think is awesome, as people say follow by faith, not by sight, but in this story God obviously provides him with both.
But this intimate ‘father’ side of God is not ever shown. In fact, I would argue this is shown more in the grandfather. In my opinion it would have made such a better film if, when the mum was in desperation, she went and spoke to God, not the ‘magical Grandfather’ Methuselah.
Which leads me on to my other struggle: the power the humans had in the film. The Grandfather healed the daughter of being barren and pressed the forehead of people to make them fall asleep. If this was from God, then what a cool film that would be! – But no, sadly there was no evidence of God giving the Grandfather the power to heal her, which would make you think it was by his own strength and power. The relationship between Methuselah and God is clearly shown through the Grandfather living where God called him to be, but it would have been nice to have seen this close relationship with God in the miracles.
Another thing that let me down slightly was when Noah says ‘I am not alone’. This was a great moment to include the power of having God on his side to get him through troubles, and as a Christian, you may feel that was what Noah meant. But if non-Christians were watching, the rising of the rock angel/monsters, may mean he is also relying on his army, like the baddy, not on God.
“…there is a lot more going on in this story than a man and his ark.”
At first, one struggle I had was that God wanted to kill, not save the whole of humanity, even with all of Noah’s talk about new life. However, when reflecting on the story, there is a meaning behind this we need to take seriously. As humans we had corrupted the earth so much, that God needed to kill humanity, re-do it again – to save humanity. God had to take what seems like drastic measures, to make sure we have a better chance to live in a better world.
Overall though, there is a great feel of hope when looking at the film as a whole. The ending is positive, and the well-known symbol of the rainbow covers the screen near the end. Although this was shown to make a happy story ending for a cinema film, Aronofsky solidly portrayed the Bible’s message of hope.
So, with all this in mind, I suggest re-reading Genesis 5-9, especially if similarly to me, you haven’t since you were a child, as there is a lot more going on in this story than a man and his ark. If you aren’t used to reading the Bible, take a look at our other blog posts, and try saying a simple prayer before reading the passage, asking God to speak to you through his word. And go to see ‘Noah’, find out what your opinions and challenges with the representation are, and enjoy a well made film.
I would love to hear your opinions on ‘Noah’ so feel free to comment or ask any questions below.