This movie, though it has its faults, brought the story of Noah alive in many ways that I was not expecting. Speaking for myself, sometimes when I read the stories of the Old Testament I have trouble picturing or empathizing with the people involved. Especially stories that cover several years in very few chapters. Yes, there are tons of liberties taken with the story and much of the drama is fictionalized, but the emotion felt spot on. I mean think about it, you are the one family that survives in the world, you’re hearing the screams of those dying outside your ark… what are you thinking? It would be very difficult not to struggle through that, and it would be very difficult to recover from that and move forward. I found myself saying “wow, this is terrible” about a story I have read a hundred times. I even came home and read it with that perspective in mind, it’s pretty crazy.
Noah is loosely based off the story in The Bible in Genesis 5 – 9. I say loosely because I don’t remember anything about rock monster fallen angels helping Noah, Methusala picking berries, or arch nemesis stowaway Tabaal-Cain. These are all plot devices used to further the fictional story line appended to the biblical narrative. However, did you know that some biblical scholars do believe fallen angels may have been involved in the Noah story? They are called the “Nephilim” and their offspring were “the heroes of old, men of renown.” Some interpret this as people who became mythologized into figures such as Hercules; some believe these would have been similar to the giants spoke of in Numbers 13:33, which are also described as “Nephilim.” Whatever your interpretation, it was interesting seeing director Darren Aronofsky’s interpretation.
Noah stars Russel Crow as Noah, a man faithful to the Creator and willing to do whatever it takes to honor Him. Jennifer Connley is great as Naamah, Noah’s faithful wife and reluctant confidante. Ray Winstone is believable as Tabaal-Cain, Anthony Hopkins is silly, but likeable as Methusala, and Emma Watson is incredibly sympathetic as Ila. Logan Lerman & Douglas Booth play Noah’s sons Ham and Shem and are relateable, but not believable at times. The way the narrative blends together these characters is very interesting, weaving true Biblical lineage and story with an interesting fictional tale of faith, sacrifice, tragedy, loss, and rebirth.
The biggest surprise to me was the plot line involving Noah and the future of his family. In the biblical narrative, Noah’s calling and family’s future is well understood. In the movie, Noah is left to interpret their future based off hazy visions and feeling. This actually leads you to be upset with Noah for a good portion of the movie. In the end, after much loss and confusion, things are redeemed and forgiveness is extended in a great bit of dialogue between Noah and Ila. Though I disagree with much of Aronofsky’s interpretation of events, I am thankful for the emphasis on the tragedy and the effect it had upon Noah and his family’s dynamic. I believe it’s important to read Scripture with the real lives that it affected in our minds. The Bible was written about real people dealing with real situations, whether tragic or miraculous; the cast of Noah shows this on a deep even dark emotional level.
Overall, the film was very well shot and the effects looked great, especially the effects of the flood sequence. There were times, however, the effects felt like something out of the late nineties or straight out of a video game, and the green screen was very evident. The time lapse elements were very interesting and worked very well as cinematic devices and a pan out view of the earth when the storm hits was amazing. There were two nit picky things that took me out of the movie on occasion: (1) The clothing of the characters felt very out of place. They all looked like modern day clothes that hung a little looser than usual (Their tents also looked like modern tents but made out of burlap), and (2) The use of steel weapons, and what looked like corrugated siding in the battle scenes, was also out of place given that they were invented in 4000 B.C. However, I can see that considering Aronofsky sees this story to be more myth than truth, these would be small considerations.
It was interesting seeing how director Aronofsky dealt with many of the criticisms of the Noah story: How do the animals all fit? How did this family repopulate the earth? How did they stop the animals from killing each other? How did Noah build such a huge structure? You’ll have to watch to get his perspective.
In the end, I really loved Noah. This movie made me want to read my Bible, and that’s never a bad thing. If it made me want to read it, I wonder who else looked up the Biblical story. I wonder who is talking about the Bible right now that would have never done so before. This movie fails as a biblical retelling, but it succeeds at bringing a story of human tragedy and the emotional strain being faith can bring to life. I personally believe Christians should watch this movie. Just know when you go in that you are going to watch something that is a mix between Lord of the Rings and The Bible. Maybe God can speak to you and bring the true story of Noah alive in a new way as He did for me.