On the way out of the cinema, my wife said, “Well, if you wanted a film that stuck to the Bible you’d be disappointed, but if you wanted an action movie you’d be very happy.” She was right.
Based on the Biblical story of the Flood, this film combines Russell Crowe was excellent as Noah (although from time to time he sounded more like Maximus the Gladiator), the man chosen by God struggling with the implications of his calling to build the Ark and save the animals as God wipes mankind off the face of the earth. He comes across as a real person struggling with real issues of holiness, purity, judgement and mercy.
The film does a good job of creating the backstory based on Genesis 6, portraying the Nephilim as fallen angels turned to stone for their disobedience, yet still living on earth. The reason for their falling? A desire to help mankind after Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden. Not quite the Biblical account! These fallen angels help Noah build the Ark and then find redemption defending him and his family from the attacks of Tubal-Cain (the excellent Ray Winstone), the epitome of all that is wrong with mankind – not just proud, and violent, but an eater of meat and polluter of the environment!
The Special effects are superb, especially with the flooding of the earth, and the scene describing the seven days (yes, that’s right) of creation, seamlessly combining both Creationist and Evolutionary stories. And Adam and Eve are so shiny! Noah’s Vision where he receives his call from God is dramatic, yet realistic, as many people over the years have testified to hearing from God in dreams. Some will complain that we do not hear the Voice of God, but I was relieved that we did not as it’s usually a cheesy, “trying to sound holy yet deep and authoritative” voice that is completely unconvincing.
If you have ever sensed a “call” from God, and wrestled with the practical implications of what this might mean, Crowe’s Noah is someone you will readily identify with, as he knows what he must do but not quite how to complete it. The way that he works this out, slowly and painfully, longing to be faithful to God, holds the film together for me.
Please remember, the director, Darren Aronofsky, is an avowed atheist; why should he stay faithful to the Scriptures? Yet his film is in places far more faithful to the realities of a life of faith than some overtly Christian films I have seen. As we watch the film we encounter the nature of God, His justice and mercy; the wickedness and sinfulness of people; grace, love, compassion, mercy; forgiveness and a new start.
Any film that picks on those themes, and encourages us to think about our faith, has to be a good thing.
The Revd Martin Ceaser is minister of Crowthorne Baptish Church