Movie poster for ‘Noah.’ Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater
“Noah”, the new film by Darren Aronofsky, is a fantasy that uses 21st century psychological insights within the framework of an ancient biblical story, ending with mixed results.
Those who, like us, re-read Genesis 6 through 9 before going to see the film, may find themselves disappointed that more of the details of the story from the Hebrew Bible didn’t make the cut in this story. (Really? There aren’t three wives for the sons? The animals sleep through the whole voyage?) Once you let go of any expectation of a literal representation or interpretation of the beloved Bible story, you might allow yourself to enjoy the film.
We are, after all, dealing with high production values here, not a sloppy low-budget film. So, how Aronofsky, the director, has imagined the structure of the ark, the role of Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather (Gen. 5:21-27), working Tubal-cain into the story as the villain (Gen.4:22 bills him as the father of iron-smiths), the nature of the mission that Noah receives, the trauma of experiencing the destruction of all of humanity and the impact that would have on these people, these interpretations might make the film worth your time.
Other cinematic gimmicks are, however, thrown into the mix. There are fantastical rock creatures who once were angels. Animals and birds and reptiles pass by as nearly real CGI effects and don’t end up as the focus of the film (as they did in “The Bible: In the Beginning” (1966), my personal favorite Noah on film). We did enjoy how the film illustrated Noah’s telling of the Creation story to his family ─ a segment that will make my favorites list.
The fact that Noah and family were vegetarians has some movie goers shaking their heads, but you can find that detail in Genesis 9:3. Kudos to Aronofsky for these details. Parallels to the counter-culture movement of the 1970s can be made, but in the story, this is what the survival of moral people of faith looks like in such a destructive cultural setting.
That being said, this film asks whether or not humanity deserves to survive after, as Genesis 6:5 puts it, “the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth… every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” (Yes, even today it can seem that bad.) In just ten generations, from Adam to Noah, humanity had made a major mess of things. In this Noah, we see the disgust of the Creator for what humanity has done with the Creation. And with this Noah, we are led, in the end, to wonder at the power of mercy and love, the basic goodness of humanity, weighed against the bad.
The Reel Deal is holding Noah over into next week!