Movie Review: Noah

Movie Review: Noah

Not since the days of Cecil B. DeMille have directors taken on the epic storylines of the Old Testament and delivered them to the big screen – Noah is the 2014 exception. Sadly, despite bucket loads of special effects the story itself may have shrunk in the downpour.  Russell Crowe stars as one of the Bible’s […]

By Mark HadleyWednesday 26 Mar 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Not since the days of Cecil B. DeMille have directors taken on the epic storylines of the Old Testament and delivered them to the big screen – Noah is the 2014 exception. Sadly, despite bucket loads of special effects the story itself may have shrunk in the downpour. 

One of the Bibles biggest hero's steps onto the screen into Hollywood's 'Noah'.
 

Russell Crowe stars as one of the Bible’s most popular storybook characters in a version of the Genesis account that is anything but childish. Noah’s pre-flood world faithfully reflects the Bible’s account where, “… every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Director Darren Aronofsky pictures sin spreading out from the day Adam and Eve first tasted the forbidden fruit till it infects every level of society. The result is a bleak world full of the threat of violence. In this context Noah is visited by visions from God that warn him of a reckoning to come:

Naameh: “Noah? What did He say? “

Noah: “He’s going to destroy the Earth.”

Of course there’s more than a little twisting of the tale in order to fit it to a less judgmental and more environmentally sensitive worldview. For example Noah declares that the ark he is building will be a refuge for the ‘innocent’, which will ultimately include the creatures of the earth. But there are other dramatic elements the story draws out from the Biblical narrative that are well worth considering. 

The villain of Noah is Tubal-Cain, played by Ray Winstone. The name is borrowed from the Biblical son of the murderer Lamech, who is credited with developing tools of iron and bronze. In this film those tools are weapons of war and Tubal-Cain is the despot who threatens Noah’s building project. It’s creative license but it points at a truth that sits behind the scenes. 

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The very construction of the ark would have stood as a rebuke to the people of Noah’s time. The suggestion that they were not acceptable to God, that they would all perish while Noah and his family were saved would have resulted in more than just mockery. Christians who persist in warning the people around them of the approaching judgment of God are familiar with the derision, threats and even violence that follow. In Western society it’s more likely to lead to legal action. But given that the Apostle Peter identifies Noah as a ‘preacher of righteousness’, it’s not unbelievable that in an ancient world those threats could have involved drawn swords. 

Once again, though, the value of a film like Noah will rest in who it identifies as the key character. The Genesis account clearly makes the flood God’s story: it is God who decides that the world has become too evil to be tolerated; God who selects Noah; God who instructs him on building an ark; God who brings the creatures; God who shuts the door; and God who sees humanity’s life raft to a safe destination. Noah never speaks; God gets all the best lines. Noah the film preserves some of these elements but in the end – despite Russell’s assertion, “I’m not alone!” – it’s hard to see it as something other than one man’s triumph over an evil world. The real god in this scenario is the human spirit. But as the lights come up we would do well to remember that Jesus directed our minds back to Noah in order to point them forward:

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all… It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”  

A second judgment is coming, a concept people find just as ridiculous or infuriating today. But this time only those who are safe in Jesus will be able to ride out the storm.

Rating: M
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: March 27, 2014