Not that long ago, the movie that everyone was talking about was Disney’s latest release, “Frozen.” Many raved, many shrugged and some voiced concerns over perceived underlying messages–most notably that they felt there was some kind of gay agenda behind the song, “Let it Go.” (Although, many others also spoke out against those claims stating they perceived nothing of the sort.)
It’s hard in cases like these to judge whether those are opinions that have been rightly formed until you’ve actually seen the movie in question. And for those who are curious, after I was ultimately coerced into finally watching the movie I was certain wasn’t going to live up to all the hype for me (Frozen that is, and it didn’t,) I caught no such underlying messages myself.
Likewise, as reports have been coming out over the past week or two about the Noah movie, and statements were being made about the content, I initially thought that what I was reading were “perceived themes,” what the reviewer understood to be the messages of the movie. (Perceived messages which may or may not be correct.)
After all.. the trailer looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
What I didn’t realize was that, in reality, those themes were really what the movie was all about. Really. No preconceived notions, no misconstruing going on, no poorly drawn conclusions or seeking for hidden underlying messages. The trailer doesn’t even begin to touch on the real feel and mood of the movie. The writer/director of “Noah” was pretty straightforward with the dialogue and it would be pretty hard to miss.
What is Noah about – really?
- Noah states several times that mankind has screwed up the world, as do a couple other characters I believe.
- Noah states several times that all of mankind should die (himself and his family included) so that the innocent animals can live on after the new beginning and it will remain unspoiled, otherwise mankind will just screw it up again.
- Several characters point out the fact that God, or rather “The Creator,” is silent and absent and has abandoned them to die.
- The evilness of Cain’s descendants is also reiterated throughout the movie – but Noah is also hung up on the fact that they are ALL evil inside, even he and his wife because they both would go so far as to kill to protect their children.
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That pretty much sums it up. (There are additional, underlying themes but these are the main ones.)
I’m sure you, too, have seen reviews saying that Noah was all about how bad people are and how they screwed up the world and God is absent and Noah gets pretty vindictive and tries to sentence them all to death, too. It is! It’s not perceived or guessed at, it’s in the script.
Noah turns to his wife and says, (basically, paraphrased,) “We deserve to die, too, all of us. There’s evil in us, too. Shem is controlled by his passions, Ham is covetous, and Japheth is too eager to please, even you and I would do anything, even kill, to protect our sons.”
After the flood has begun and they are all safely rocking at sea, Noah sits his family down and explains to them that since Shem’s wife is (they think) barren, and since Ham and Japheth have no wives, after the flood is over and the world starts over, they will all eventually die off–Shem will bury Noah and his wife, Ham will bury Shem and his wife, Japheth will bury Ham, and one day Japheth will die, the very last man on Earth.
When Shem’s wife later turns up miraculously pregnant, Noah rages and fumes that it’s not the plan! Noah declares that if the child is a boy it can live but if it’s a girl it will have to die because it could grow up to be a wife for Ham or Japheth and so then mankind would live on but they all need to die out and let creation carry on unharmed.
I could go on, but I just want you to see that the writer/director was abundantly clear with the theme and feel of the movie. My goal here isn’t to try to guess the intentions of the writers, or speculate on messages and agendas. Quite honestly, I always stunk at the kind of thing in college, analyzing an author’s work that is, because I tend to take things at face value. As we continue through the rest of this “review” I’ll maintain that face value approach. No speculating here.
While I fear my “good” section may well be the shortest, I do want to show that I was able to notice and appreciate a few things that were “good” for one reason or another.
I am always pleasantly surprised when Hollywood movies include little accurate historical details you didn’t expect to find, and that was also the case while watching Noah. I was even more surprised because these were historical details as according to the Bible.
What I can recall at the moment (besides getting Noah and the ark in there):
- Methuselah really was the grandfather of Noah (edited: though the Bible doesn’t include information about Methuselah in connection with the flood account.)
- Tubal-Cain really was a real person also (though in the movie he is the leader of the bad guys, and the Tubal-Cain in the Bible was not mentioned in connection with Noah.)
- Tubal-Cain of the Bible was known for being a skilled metal worker – I was pleased to see the metal tools and other metal work in the movie (sometimes it’s too easy to think of the accounts of Genesis in “caveman terms,” banging rocks together and such.)
Of course, if I were to make a list of the inaccuracies the list would be much much longer. However, I’m not going to do that.
The other good thing: MOST of the special effects were pretty good. The water stuff, the flood, the dreams – these were fairly well done. However, I said “most,” and I said that for a reason. The special effects that were not well done were so very not well done that it almost negated the good special effects.
Edited to add: I would be wrong to forget that by the very end of the movie, the director finally did bring the movie around and it did end on a positive note. Noah was convinced, grudgingly, that God did want mankind to survive through him and his family, that God provided wives for this two sons with Ila’s two daughters, and Noah was reconciled to his family. After two hours of doom and gloom, a happy ending. Yay? I’m dissatisfied, I admit it. I know that the movie addresses the inner struggle of Noah, trying to trust God and do His will. My problem is that in the Biblical account, Noah knew from the beginning that God was going to save him and his whole family (and all their wives they already had.) I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been awful, but I think Noah trusted God to take care of them. But also, it didn’t seem “enough.” I would have liked more, but that definitely needs to be included here on the good list.
Let me give you the setting of the movie, as best as I can piece it together. What we begin to notice early on in the movie is that Noah’s world is bleak and desolate. Mankind has apparently flourished and is now dwindling and fighting to survive. Perhaps it was the wars with The Watchers, perhaps it is the evilness that has brought them here (after all, they kill with abandon–each other and the wild game–and apparently wild game is hard to find, as is much vegetation.) In fact, Noah’s world was so desolate, he didn’t even have trees for wood to build the ark until Methuselah gave him the last seed from the garden of Eden–which when planted, God sprung up into thick jungle of trees right before their eyes.
I was confused. I still am. Stepping out of any kind of theological assessment, I wanted to first watch the movie, pay attention, try to remember as much as I could, and then analyze it later afterward. But as I was watching the movie, trying to follow it, there were things that didn’t make sense. Things in the storyline that a better writer/director would have tried to explain.
- Why is mankind dwindling and struggling to survive exactly? (And where are all the trees and animals?)
- There are abandoned mines of some kind with some pretty advanced metal structures, but the technology has apparently been abandoned – why?
- The mines are abandoned but they still have the capability of forging some pretty sweet looking weapons – exactly how advanced are they (or not?)
- Why does Tubal-Cain’s outfit look pretty handsomely made, whereas Noah’s family is clothed in some pretty shabby looking, uneven, poorly stitched outfits?
- Why did it take Noah ten years to build the ark if the watchers were helping him?
- Other things that didn’t make sense: what was the deal with the glowing fire rocks, the sacred snakeskin relic, and the witchdoctering Methuselah?
- Rock monster/angel/demon things?
I have more questions but I will stop there. All I’m saying is that while I was watching the movie I leaned over to my husband several times to pose a question about something or other. I guess what I’m really saying is that if this were any other movie I’d come home saying that the storyline was “okay but lacking a little.” My husband and I agreed that it was almost like a fantasy genre, like it wasn’t supposed to be entirely realistic (and if that’s the case then they actually succeeded.)
And let’s talk about those graphics. With all the hype, I went in expecting something epic and amazing from the filmography. Look at what was done with Avatar and the newest Star Wars movies. Technology can totally tackle a worldwide flood. Yes, the water scenes were really pretty well done, and the ark itself was pretty amazing, but spaced here and there were a handful of oddly ill-done computer graphics.
Every single time they showed the snake and the apple (or, the beating heart apple I should say,) the snake looked cartoony. At the end of the movie, when nature is restored we see shots of a fawn nursing, a mother bear and her cub, etc. I’m not the only one that thought all of these animals looked poorly edited in. It was like when you can tell someone is obviously standing in front of a poor green screen, except the other way around.
It was weird and confusing because the rest of the graphics were great. They nailed the hard parts and botched the easy ones – I don’t know if it was on purpose? Computer graphics have come so far and I can really appreciate some good technology. I was blown away by some of the graphics in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” – I was floored to discover the Knave of Hearts’ entire outfit was CGI the whole time! So why didn’t the shake shedding its skin look realistic? I don’t know.
Oh, and shaky cam. I despise shaky cam. Thank goodness the whole movie wasn’t that way (unlike Bourne Supremacy- OY the headache I had leaving the theater after that one..)
(You can see a lot of screenshots here and here.)
One brief note about the music – you’ll notice that I didn’t list anything about the music up in “The Good” section. There was nothing about the movie score that impressed me.
Much of the movie was void of background score. What music it did have was always somber, moody, and repetitive. Me? I love music. I love a good movie score. Music was not a big part of this movie, sadly.
Just looking at the movie itself and setting aside any theological debate, the movie was too disjointed and inconsistent, the graphics and music only so-so. Both my husband I agreed that the movie itself without taking theology into consideration fell into the category of “didn’t hate it but didn’t care to own it or watch it again.”
Should you watch it? That’s up to you. In my opinion, anyone who is well read in the Bible and history can easily see the movie for what it is. Children, youth, the gullible, the weak in Faith, the new in Faith, the unlearned, the unsaved, the doubters… these people could possibly be negatively impacted in their view of God if they believe the half truths presented in this movie. Let me explain…
Ok, so here’s the part that most of you have probably been waiting for. Let’s talk about that theology.
The really dangerous thing about this movie is that it’s NOT obviously, outrageously horrific and unwatchable.
Many years ago my best friend and I found ourselves standing in line at the theater only to learn that the movie we wanted to see was sold out.
We quickly picked a different movie simply because it had Nicolas Cage in it, knowing next to nothing about the movie we’d chosen. An hour and a half later, we walked out of 8MM feeling horrified, repulsed and completely CREEPED OUT. Neither of us will ever watch that movie again. It felt evil and awful. The material was clearly disturbing (and we told our friends not to watch it, too.)
NOAH IS NOT THAT WAY. There are some graphic scenes, yes, but the really disturbing stuff is the theology. And if you didn’t know the truth and you were just watching the movie, you wouldn’t feel like it was really all that bad, visually speaking, plotwise, or otherwise.
Truth and Lies
For those of us who are well read, if you know your Bible and your history, it’s pretty easy to identify and separate the truth from the lies. But for someone else, it’s all mixed up together. The writer/director took little bits of truth, mixed in some fiction, a lot of inaccuracies and some lies and stirred it up and served up some theological goulash.
One of the ways that Satan works is by seasoning lies and half truths with little bits of truth and getting people to swallow it whole.
Let me say that again. Just because some parts of it are true, does not make it all true. Satan USES bits of true to make lies more palatable. But unless you know the truth you can’t separate the truth from the lies. And this movie flat out lies about God. And that makes me sad because I want people to know about THE REAL GOD.
The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth
So here’s the truth.
God is good.
When God created the world, and created man in His image, God lovingly desired that His creation should have the ability to choose to love and follow Him. He could have created us to love Him without a choice, but He did not. And God also knew that with choice comes bad choices, and He KNEW that we, being human, would screw up. God was not surprised when Adam and Eve sinned, nor was He caught off guard when the people of Noah’s time were evil. However, God being Holy, He cannot ignore, condone and abide with our sin–we must be redeemed from the sin that separates us from God so that we can fellowship with Him as He desires. But God is both a loving God and a just God, and sin has a price, and that price is a high price. But, there is more.
The story of Noah is not just a historical account of how God purged the world of the sinful masses. If you simply read it that way, you’re missing the best part! God is just and God is loving, simultaneously. While He cannot let sin go without a price, He did not leave us without a way to be restored to Him. The story of Noah is a foreshadowing, one of many in the Old Testament, for how God was going to provide a way for Salvation. Just as the flood waters washed away the sin of the world, God later sent His son to wash away our sins, to take them on and pay for them himself, so that all who turn from their sin, accept his payment, are reconciled to God, and then live in obedience to Him will become His children – saved from the price of the sin: death.
That, my friends, is the real message of Noah.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16-18
God is not silent. He did not abandon us. He does not wish us all to die. He does want us to choose Him. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the Truth of God, and Truth demands a choice. There is no riding the fence. The choice is YOURS. Will you choose Him?
This is the best review of the movie I’ve seen. Thank you! I appreciate that you laid it all out straightforward without the emotional rhetoric I’ve seen everywhere. I saw the trailer and thought it looked good, but at the same time I didn’t think it could be. Then I read all these things both that everyone should see it and that no one should. And that it’s worth watching in order to compare/contrast with the Bible, but cinematically, it’s a terrible movie. Which made me think, “So basically, I should go watch a terrible movie in order to see… Read more »
Yep – I was pretty much thinking the same thing, but then I felt like I should and write about it. So, basically, I guess I went and watched it so you don’t have to. 😉
One point about Methuselah… He was still alive when Noah started building the ark. In fact, if you add up the numbers in the genealogies in Genesis, he actually died the year of the flood. Which is interesting, because his name means ‘After his death, judgement shall come’. Extra-biblical accounts suggest a prophecy was given to his father Lamech that his son Methuselah would love until God judged the evil of mankind, and the Methuselah actually died only a week before the reason began to fall and the Ark was closed. Either way, biblically, Methuselah was alive until the year… Read more »
Sorry, that should say ‘live’ not ‘love’, And his father ‘Enoch’, not ‘Lamech’. Lamech was his son, the father of Noah.
Thanks, Ally! (I edited that part slightly. Thanks!)
I went to see this with my Eldest Manling, and we both agreed that the moment when the movie completely lost us was when Noah leaves the girl that Ham had chosen in the bear trap and runs for the ark. At that point it was pretty clear we were treading into “incest waters”, and I just couldn’t get out of my head during the rest of the movie that, in the Bible, the boys were already married…and their wives went too! Hey, Russell Crowe! God DID provide! LOL I agree completely–it was shaky in spots and some very bizarre… Read more »