Noah, the movie

LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

August 9, 2014 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

NOAH, the movie, finally made it on to DVD, and I watched it on Saturday evening.  Because I write and teach I was curious as to what this latest in biblically themed films would do with Genesis 6, 7, 8, and 9.  There were some clearly positive, from my point of view, aspects of the presentation.

God was clearly presented as the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.  In an age of real and practical atheism this was a decided plus.  Sin and evil were also given full credence in the film.  There was evil in the world and it was clearly the result of mankind’s rebellion against the Creator.  The flood was also set forth as the judgment of God on an evil civilization.  We have a plethora of catastrophe film out there, but there is a real hesitancy to see the disasters, real or fictional, as the Judgment of God on sin.   It is trite, but the entertainment industry, as well as humanity in general, always wants to blame something other than us. Pogo used to say, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”  NOAH is unequivocal on this issue.

Director Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel wrote the script with the help of John Logan.  It appears they wanted to create a story that wedded the Biblical account with the pizzazz of the J R R Tolkien Lord of the Rings drama.  The problem is that competent as the writing team was they are not J R R Tolkien.  Likewise they were not very good Bible Students.

Neither Tolkien, or for that matter  C S Lewis, would have tried to weave the folk tale genre and the Biblical narrative together.  Both of these writers used the great biblical themes in their stories, but they did not mix the sacred text with the fictitious metaphor.  The attempt in NOAH comes out badly.

We have rock monsters building the ark.  We have the wrong people as passengers.  We have great battle scenes which are very Tolkienesk, but hardly justifiable in the text of Genesis.  I still can’t figure out what happened to Japheth, the third son of Noah, whose decedents are listed first in Genesis 10, but is not even listed in the cast of characters in the film.  We have only one son, Seth, with a wife on the ark.

It is true, of course, that there are lots of gaps in the story recorded in Genesis, and there is room for the imagination to fill in these gaps for dramatic purposes.  However, the artistic license does not include mutilating the story for dramatic purposes.

I still have in my library the John Huston production of THE BIBLE which was done 1966.  John Huston plays Noah in this presentation which is far superior to the recent effort.  I suppose I could find fault with it if I tried hard.  It is played with less emphasis on the judgmental aspects of the story, and more of the grace in God’s act in saving the faithful to begin again.

The message of God’s sovereignty over history and his unwillingness to allow injustice to go unpunished is an important message for our time, and the current NOAH makes that clear.  For this effort alone I think they deserve a gold star.  The Bible teacher in me wishes they had done it with greater faithfulness to the text.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net) END-whs

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