The Pros and Cons of Watching Noah

April 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm (Movies) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.

“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.”

 

I admit, I expected the worst from this movie. How could I possibly expect an atheist to know anything about how to portray God’s character accurately on screen? I was super surprised to find that it does not villain-ize God or Noah in the end. It does, however, deviate from the Biblical truth of God’s word. The result is an emotional journey with Noah and his family on the ark, that challenges the viewer to confront God’s judgment and mercy in a much more personal way, without leaving God’s faithfulness in a questionable light.

With so much debate over this film in Christian circles, I decided to just throw a basic pros and cons list into the mix of reviews swirling around this ocean of controversy.

Rather than tell you what to think, I hope that this list might help you make your own judgment about “supporting” the film or not.

First, the pros:

  • Most importantly, this film does a good job portraying God’s character in light of His justice vs mercy:
  1. His wrath is duly justified by the portrayal of the wickedness of man. Noah even sees his own potential for evil.
  2. The animals are called innocent only because they still behave as God intended (as in the Garden of Eden).
  3. God redeems the controversial fallen-angel character when the angel begs his Creator for forgiveness.
  4. Noah’s wife tells him that God (in His mercy) provided what they needed to begin civilization again.
  • God is referred to as The Creator in the film, and no character questions His existence. They all desire a relationship with Him.
  • The creation sequence walks the line between many theories of creation: theistic evolution, day-age/gap theory, and creationism. And the film referred to other scriptural images, such as the four rivers of the Garden of Eden.
  • The film portrayed some elements of the story of Noah that we usually don’t visualize:
  1. The fight to get into the ark after the storm came.
  2. The moans and screams of those left outside as the waters rise.
  3. The conversation Noah’s family has about how they want to save some of the people somehow.
  • The film dealt with some hard questions that many are afraid to confront:
  1. What did God mean when he told man to “take dominion” over the earth?
  2. If all have sinned, don’t those inside the ark technically deserve punishment as well?
  3. If man is made in the image of God, how does that affect our relationship with the Creator?
  • There is a very clear message at the end of the movie that God knew what He was doing the whole time (though it is left ambiguous for almost all of the middle, climax, and resolution).
  • The rainbows at the end of the movie surge forth powerfully, like an exclamation point on God’s promise.
  • The film is visually stunning. It is beautiful to watch.

Now the cons:

  • The film does not follow the factual account in the Bible.
  1. “And God said to Noah . . . [Noah] did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:13a, 22).
  2. “[God] preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 2:5b)
  • Many will see this movie and assume that it follows the Bible much more closely than it actually does. Some may assume it’s the truth.
  • Though the essence of God’s nature is preserved by the end of the film, the movie does suspend God’s clarity for sake of plot/conflict, which is not consistent with His character. I don’t think He would ever leave such an important detail (the survival of the human race) ambiguous.
    1. “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. ” (1 Corinthians 14:33a).

My personal conclusion:

After much deliberation, I would actually recommend this movie to mature Christian audiences, or those willing to have a long and deep talk about it afterward. (Not anyone under 15 years old, though, thematically.) The conversations you have would be very worthwhile.

To quote another reviewer: “And that’s what I think that Christians who’ve seen the film… react most strongly to: the fact that it’s more interested in asking questions than in giving answers. Personally, I believe an aversion to ambiguity is at the root of most of what’s mediocre in Christian art today, and nowhere is that aversion on more vehement display than in the rhetorical beating that Noah has endured in the Christian press.”

Instead of boycotting the film, as all atheists would expect, why not take the film and use it to glorify God? Have those good, deep conversations with people about what it means to be a person of faith. So Aronofsky is bragging about surprising Christians with the dark-ness of the story? Let’s show him that it is not surprising to us that the world truly WAS dark in those days and let’s “take a stand” by using his film for God-honoring Bible study. Wouldn’t this be a better reaction?

“It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers.”
~The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

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4 Comments

  1. coreyjewett said,

    Thank you for the thoughtful review. I would have liked to see a longer con list, at least pointing out some of the other biblical liberties. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t help too much. I will offer that the bible does not teach redemption for fallen angels.

    • haywireproductions said,

      I’m glad you liked it!
      I hope you come back to add pros or cons to the list after you see it. :]

  2. Deanna said,

    So good to read a review of someone I trust and know. I will watch on video. As far as why flood happened is that gen 6:5, every thought was consistently and totally evil. Except Noah found favor. In that favor is that why his family was spared with him so could continue human race.
    May I suggest next blog…why did God even bother to create us a sinful fallen creature????

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