To be clear- Darren Aronofsky’s Noah movie doesn’t “accurately” reflect the Biblical narrative known to many as “Noah and the Ark,” found in Gen. 6-10. Should we be shocked that Hollywood has taken a biblical narrative and changed it into something palatable for American movie goers so they can make money on it? No. Have you met Hollywood?
As you’ve no doubt heard, director Darren Aronofsky is an atheist who bragged about it being the “least biblical” movie ever made. In an interview with the Washington Post he also said, less scandalously, “We were trying to dramatize the decision God must have made when he decided to destroy all of humanity.”
And dramatize he did! I’m not going to spoil the plot. For a play by play from a Christian perspective try Matt Walsh. My personal favorite was his re-invention of the “Nephilim.”
The movie fails hugely as a motion picture version of the biblical narrative. That said, Aronofsky does present one Biblical theme with poignancy. Here’s my take:
1. The sinfulness of humanity was equated with “industry” rather than violence (Gen. 6:11, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence”). To be fair, Aronofsky does come down hard on violence, especially Cain and Abel, but it ends up playing second fiddle to industry and urbanization.
2. Along those lines, the movie makes any consuming of flesh out to be part and parcel of sinful living. This is a blatant reversal of Gen. 9:3, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” The vegetarian agenda made it’s way into this one front and center.
3. Along with eating meat, the main bad guy also uses the biblical phrasing “subdue the earth” to summarize what in the film is mankind destroying the planet through industry. Subduing creation is demonized, and creation “care” is glorified. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In Gen. 1:28 it was God who said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
4. In the film, Noah is a border line madman of justice and judgment, not a man of faith and righteousness. Hebrews 11:7 tells us “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” I was genuinely surprised at how Noah was pictured without faith.
5. As other reviewers have noted, God is completely silent in the movie. Only through dreams and hallucinations does Noah receive “instruction,” and even then he isn’t sure what to do. Both he and humanity’s evil king look to the sky at various points and scream at God, asking for him to answer. Is this the atheism of Aronofsky coming through? God has a lot to say in the biblical narrative; most crucially he makes a covenant with Noah and all livings things to never again judge them with a flood (Gen. 9:9-11). God’s promise to Noah was entirely absent from the film.
6. Finally, in the biblical narrative, upon returning to dry ground Noah takes some of the animals he brought to safety and sacrifices them to God (Gen. 8:20-22). This was removed because it clearly did not fit the vegetarian/animal rescue theme in the film. Furthermore, a sacrifice would have been, well, too worshipful for this movie.
There were other issues, but they are plot related so I’ll leave them for others to point out. Here’s the one thing I liked about the movie, and where the gospel fits in:
The one thing Aronofsky got right was original sin. The film clearly communicates that the sinfulness of humanity started with Adam and Eve rebelling against the Creator. Sin is presented as the problem, and is repeatedly described as rebellion against God. Also, sin in the movie is not just their problem. As Noah says to his wife at one point in the film, “Wickedness is in us.”
At the end of the film, the message is clear: it’s up to us to do better than first humanity. Honestly, the end leaves you wanting a better solution. Really? I’m my only hope? Mercy is a key theme in the movie, but not God’s mercy. In Arofonsky’s version, Noah was the one who was merciful. God was only merciful indirectly. This, more than anything, made me thirsty for the gospel. The pervasiveness of sin was so clearly displayed, it was disappointing that even the vaguest conception of God’s grace in sparing humanity was missing.
But we know better. It was God who was gracious to Noah’s family. It is God’s grace that has always been the hope of humanity. Sin is the problem, but the solution isn’t second humanity; the solution is the second Adam, Jesus Christ.