Many have asked for my thoughts on the new film Noah, and although MUCH has already been written about it, and many different critiques have been given, I realize there are still a few out there who are curious as to what I think about this film, so here we go.
I mentioned on my Facebook and Twitter feeds that I liked the film…sort of. This is a very difficult movie, partly because of director Darren Aronofsky’s bold vision and gutsy style. I definitely give the guy credit—he created a film that is wholly his own, wholly his vision. But therein lies the problem.
Much has been made about the director’s apparent atheism. I’ve never met him, so I can’t speak to his religious beliefs with any conclusiveness (I’m wary of people getting their “he’s a Christian” or “he’s an atheist” beliefs from a 30 second sound byte—the answer is usually much more complicated than that), but as a fellow artist, storyteller, and teacher of creativity for 15 years, I have learned one thing for certain. What a person believes ALWAYS comes out in what they create. When you create something—especially something as time consuming and all-encompassing as a feature length movie, you cannot help but put part of your soul into it. Quite often, it is your deep inner man that draws you to that particular story in the first place. That Darren Aronofsky admits that he’s wanted to make the story of Noah since he was young should come as no surprise then, as obviously the story touches on some of the deep places within him.
Unfortunately, the more I’ve thought about this film, the more I am disappointed by it. I really wanted to like this movie, and I was fully willing to deal with the creative license that was sure to come from turning 5 chapters in the Bible into a two-and-a-half hour epic. I am probably more forgiving of creative license than most Christians, simply because I am an artist, and all artists understand and in fact embrace the idea of questions, mystery, and challenging material. So I’m fine with the Nephilim/Rock people/Watchers stuff, even if he turned inherently evil characters (in real life) into the good guys. I’m fine with a darker Noah—I don’t believe for a second that this was an easy thing for him to carry. One of my favorite scenes in the film is after the family has been shut inside the ark, and they must sit there in silence as all of humanity screams for help outside. It is a haunting moment, and it is the kind of scene most Christian films would never include. I’m fine with all the eco-friendliness of the film. Frankly, I don’t understand why so many Christians get so uptight about this—after all, God makes it very clear in Genesis that we are in fact stewards of this planet. I don’t agree with many critics who say the greatest flaw of this film’s humanity is that they eat meat and destroy forests—I thought Aronofsky did a fine job of showing a brutal, degenerate society. No, I am fine with much of the creative license taken in this film. But there is one decision that, in my opinion, steps over the line and turns this from a fine film with some flaws to a film with the potential to be truly dangerous.
If you want to change a Bible story around to fit a particular story you want to tell, go ahead. But don’t you dare make my God look like something He is not. That is the unforgivable offense for me. This is my best friend you’re talking about here, and I will not stand idly by while you make Him look like He’s something He’s not.
I said earlier that what you believe always comes out in what you create. In Noah, Aronofsky’s view towards God is made abundantly clear. This is a God who, if He exists, is distant, unemotional, strict, and unbending. He is a God who almost relishes the chance to destroy humanity for its sins. The ending is particularly problematic, and without spoiling anything, it is problematic because you are left with the question of who is more merciful: God or Noah? The real life answer is, of course, God, who is the most merciful, loving Person in the Universe. But in this movie’s Universe, the question lingers.
All that being said, it should really come as no surprise to anyone that Noah is the film that it is. It is a movie created by a man who obviously is not friends with God yet, who doesn’t yet understand His nature, His goodness, His mercy, His love for humanity, and how awful this decision to destroy His creation must have been for Him. How can we fault a man for misunderstanding something he has never known? I’m not going to rail against Aronofsky because, well, at least he was honest. At least he had a bold vision and made a statement that he felt was true and real. Unfortunately, it is not a statement that most Christians can agree with, which is why everyone is so hot and bothered about this movie. The Bible is important to us because it is a gift from God—a way for Him to reveal Himself to us. When you change the very essence of one of the stories in there, which in turn causes our God to look horrible and goes in the opposite direction of who He really is, then of course people are going to get upset. But I’m willing to disagree with Aronofsky while not demonizing him, because quite frankly, he doesn’t know any better. He doesn’t know my King yet. Hopefully one day he will.