Rocky and I are finally making our way through the “Christian” movies of 2014 after hearing everyone’s extremely biased opinions of the three big screen releases, “Noah” dubbed as ‘Don’t Waste Your Time’, “God’s Not Dead” also known as ‘The Best Movie Ever’ and “Heaven is For Real” subtitled ‘We’re Not Really Sure About This One.”
The overwhelming consensus about the Noah movie only made us want to see it more. You can pretty much bet that if Christian culture says it’s unacceptable, the Presley’s will find something absolutely invaluable about the message portrayed, and “Noah” was no exception.
Let me start by saying something very important, that may offend you right off the bat (feel free to click that X at the corner of your browser at any time.) : It is my personal opinion that if a person expects Hollywood to produce a movie about Biblical events that is a.) 100 % accurate, b.) anything less than creative, or c.) unoffensive in some way shape or form, that person is acting out of ignorance and a general disillusionment about the way the world views God, as well as how actors, producers and directors, screen writers etc. make money.
Are you still here? Good! Take this as fair warning, THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD.
I can’t even tell you how many posts I saw filling up my newsfeed about how terrible “Noah” was. “What a disgrace! Don’t waste your time or money! At least there was actually a flood! An abomination!” Okay, I didn’t actually see the word abomination, but I’m sure someone said it . . .
Before watching the movie, I can honestly say that the best depiction I had seen of this story was told by flannel graph.
I’d like to take a minute to thank Hollywood for completely rocking all the ways I’ve ever thought about Noah and the Ark. The one thing I heard repeatedly about the movie was that “we hope it inspires conversation.” Everyone hoped that. Guess what? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. There are so many great conversations to have about this movie!
The most powerful moment for me was the scene where Noah and his wife are sitting against the side of the ark and they can hear the shouts and cries of the people outside trying to get in. Noah is very obviously tormented by their cries, but He knows what God has decreed, meanwhile, his wife is broken for the loss of lives that (in her opinion) they could have prevented. Now, the Bible doesn’t give us anything to go on as far as what was going through the minds of those inside the ark. We have the bare bones of a story that has been passed down from generation to generation before being put to paper and preserved for thousands of years. Never once in my thirty-three years did I ever consider what it must have been like for Noah and his family to shut the door on the rest of the world. In that moment I was reminded of the scene from “Schindler’s List” where Schindler looks down at his hands and sees a ring on his finger, realizing how many more lives he could have saved had he sacrificed more of his possessions. One of the most heartbreaking moments in all of cinema, now challenged by this moment with Noah trying to ignore the screams of humanity just outside of the boat that he built. I cried like a baby.
There were definite embellishments to the story told in the Bible — but come on. How long did it take your Sunday School teacher to tell the story? Five maybe seven minutes, if that? Again I go back to my preface that you simply can not expect Hollywood to tell a Biblical story in a way that doesn’t grasp at just a few straws, unless of course the person at the helm is willing to commit career suicide to do so (Ahem. Mel Gibson.). So there were some giant rock creatures that were former angels . . . yeah, I could have done without that. I felt like I was watching a Pixar film for a little bit, but then when the fight for the ark is on (in the movie the people begin scrambling to reach the ark in hopes of taking it over in order to save themselves) and the rock giants that had been banished to their gnarly forms are each defeated and basically resurrected into their old selves and back to Heaven — it was a powerful moment and a testimony to the faithful love of our Father. That’s right. Those ridiculous rock giants reminded me of how nasty I must look most days, and that there will come a day when my spirit will soar to heaven in spite of my human nature; that my Heavenly Father will have grace on me, sinner that I am.
When Methuselah meets up with Ila (Shem’s . . . wife? fiance? Baby-Mama-To-Be? played by Emma Watson who is brilliant) and blesses her, her barren womb is immediately opened, which proves to be an extremely important part of the rest of the story. Here is some creative license coming into play, but the fact is that it doesn’t detract from who God is in any way, shape or form. Au contraire, mes amis! It speaks to the healing nature of our Father and that He desires for us to go forth and multiply! It speaks the promise of new generations, and you know what? I just can’t see anything wrong with that being part of the story, be it fiction or truth. He did it countless other times in the Bible, didn’t He? And doesn’t He still open the wombs of the barren today? Absolutely.
It was interesting to me that the writer’s chose to give Noah the standpoint that said they would eventually all die off and only nature would survive. Spinning off of that for a second, this was our one major issue with the movie: It was presented that God was destroying mankind because they were not taking care of the planet. Vegans and Tree-huggers unite! Just kidding. But really, that was a ‘meh,’ point for us, an obvious undertone from environmentalists or someone who hates the Duck Commander. “Why do they eat meat, father?” Ham asks Noah. “They think it makes them strong.” (not a direct quote)
Ok so back to movie-Noah and his misgivings about the flood and the future of mankind: He believes that it is God’s will for man to die completely and his family has been spared only to save the animals. In this story, only one son has a wife and to his knowledge, she is barren. They will all die eventually, the last men on earth. But Noah is surprised with the news of a grandchild on the way. He swears that if the child is a girl, she will be killed immediately in order to fulfill God’s plan. Obvious creative license here? Yes. There are so many wide open holes in the version of the story that we know to be true that don’t give us any glimpse into what may or may not have happened during those 40 days and nights, or how Noah may or may not have felt. If only David had been around to write some Psalms . . .
Later, when the ark has come to rest on Mount Ararat, and after Ila gives birth to twin girls and Noah is unable to fulfill his vow to take the infant lives, (because his heart is overwhelmed with love for his grandchildren), he says to Ila that he has failed the Creator, that he has not fulfilled his duties because all of mankind was to be wiped out. And then Ila says this amazing thing:
“Did you (fail)? He chose you for a reason, Noah. He showed you the wickedness of man and knew you would not look away. And you saw goodness too. The choice was put in your hands because he put it there. He asked you to decide if we were worth saving. And you chose mercy. You chose love.”
Aaaaah, sweet Jesus. Love. It comes back to love. So, no, the story is not the exact one you read in the Bible, but all of the points are there, including Ham leaving the family. Ultimately, I believe that the movie does the story justice. Many reviewers say that it was violent and scary at times, but it was also rated PG-13, which, if we’re gonna go there, means that the movie is allowed one F-bomb, so . . . did they really expect smiling puppies and people waving happily as the ark set sail? Did God wipe out mankind because they were planting flowers and sharing sugar with their neighbors? It’s remarkable to me that people complain about the inaccuracies of the story, but then when things are shown in what was probably an authentic depiction, they’re still unhappy. Christians are some of the hardest people in the world to please. Bless the Lord, He still loves us anyway.
We have the Bible and we have the Holy Spirit, but there is still so much that we don’t understand, so much that we just don’t know. I for one am thankful that someone took the chance on making this film, to put it out there with all of its inaccuracies and creative imaginings, because it rocked me to my core. I bawled my way through it as the story of Noah and the ark become more real to me than it ever has been.
Sidenote: I think we should just burn all the flannel graphs.
What did you think?