I realize I’m a little late to this party. Noah was a huge disappointment – and I expected as much given the social buzz about it.
Spoiler Alert – but seriously, who we are kidding at this point? Noah has to be the worst kept secret on the planet.
There was quite a bit that was good about the film. The images of the flood coming from both above and below the earth were spectacular. The trauma that Noah deals with during the flood and post-flood is beautifully depicted. Reading about Noah naked and drunk is one thing, seeing the why and what he was dealing with made it very real.
I loved the image of Noah realizing that the ‘sickness’ is in him as well as the others. It’s a sobering moment and I loved the imagery of Noah seeing himself selling that girl for food and the serpent coming through his own face. The story-telling of creation to fall to the flood was beautifully done. I did notice the nod to evolution but that did not detract from the overall beauty of the story-telling.
I also liked the tension of Noah and the family on the ark as they wrestle with the possibility that the Creator has forgotten them. The Scriptures themselves make this comment – that “then God remembered Noah.” I’m okay with this tension leading Noah to misinterpret God by decreeing that this is the end of humanity.
So with all that good, what ruined the movie for me?
Obviously, I would have loved for the story with the talents of these actors to be a bit closer to the source material. I’m not just saying that because of my faith either. Imagine changing the legend of Thor from its source material – like making Thor a woman.
Oh wait…they are doing that…
My point is – if you have source material, be creative when there are blanks in the story. Making the animals sleep via some potion of incense is an example. But to abandon the story altogether is …, well, I’m not sure what to call it. Arrogant? Stupid? Clueless? It ain’t right.
Interpreting the Nephilim as fallen angels that have harden to be rock giants was okay. No one really has a clue who or what the Nephilim really were. But what the director really did was merge two ancient flood stories – the Bible and the Babylonian Enuma Elish, The references are subtle but clear. The snake being the ‘blessing’ that is passed down, the fight of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ on the ark during the flood, the clear ambivalence of the Creator towards humanity – all reference back to that tradition. In the end – neither tradition gets a clear telling of their story.
There were other problems I had with the story. Let’s abandon the faithfulness to the Scriptures for a moment and just deal with the story in and of itself. If man was the chief source of evil and pain and the whole point of the flood was to ‘fix’ that problem, leaving the decision up to Noah to either continue or end the human race just sets humanity up for more of the same issues since the ‘sickness’ was also in them. The director leads us to believe that the wickedness of humanity can be cured with just more education, a vegan diet, and better choices. It feels hollow.
Another issue: the Noah depicted in the movie already led an isolationist lifestyle. How different really was their life after the ark? Before they lived alone, away from humanity as farmers. Afterwards, they live alone, away from humanity as farmers. Their understanding of life and the Creator isn’t any different, there isn’t any tension to be resolved.
The role of Methusala – Noah’s great grandfather – plays the role the Creator should have played in the life of Noah and his family. (And it was a complete waste of a talented actor like Anthony Hopkins to only have him in so few scenes.) In many regards, the Creator was unnecessary to the story that was told in the film. The Creator as depicted in the film was barely two-dimensional and really created no real tension or relationship to resolve or develop.
Which maybe was the whole point anyway…