Last week I went to see Noah. I liked it so much that I will do something I rarely do—watch it again on the big screen. This is not the tired old story you heard in Sunday school.
The film is filled with surprises, but I won’t give them away—except that I didn’t see any dinosaurs on the ark.
Observations and Impressions
This film brings the familiar story of Noah alive. The characters are real personalities—not cardboard figures.
Noah is no robotic follower of the creator but a complex man with a heavy burden. However, he is determined to carry out the creator’s orders, even if that means his own death and that of his family.
Tubal-Cain is a man determined to have his way through power, intimidation, and violence. He is the epitome of a barbaric leader.
Ham is a son unwilling to let his father dictate his life. He and Noah are frequently at odds, which is often the case as teenagers mature. Many people, including Christians, will undoubtedly identify with Ham.
Methuselah is a wise old hermit who gives direction to his family when they visit.
In Noah we discover:
- Noah’s family had help building the ark
- How Noah’s family managed all the animals on the ark
- What happened to Methuselah the year of the flood
- Why Noah became drunk after the flood
- The context of the curse of Ham
Many scenes in the movie are visually gratifying. The stark landscape of a world without rain, the growth of a forest, and the coming of the animals are just a few of them. The way the creator communicates to Noah is interesting, and I loved the Watchers (fallen angels).
Become Familiar with Tubal-Cain before Watching
Before you see the movie, you should know the back-story of Tubal-Cain from the Bible. Tubal-Cain descends from Cain, who killed his own brother Abel. Tubal-Cain is mentioned in Genesis chapter 4:
Lamech [not the same as Noah’s father, Lamech] married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.
Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
But Tubal-Cain plays a major role in the movie. The movie effectively contrasts the attitudes of the descendents of Cain and the descendents of Seth, particularly in the interplay between Tubal-Cain and Noah.
Noah is Filled with Literalist Biblical Elements
The movie includes themes that conservatives treasure, so there are many things for inerrantists to applaud. It treats the Genesis genealogy as historical: Noah was the 10th from Adam through Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech—Noah’s father.
Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, is a significant character in the film; Seth’s descendants are vegetarian, unlike Cain’s descendants; and Noah builds the rectangular ark in accordance to the dimensions stated in Genesis.
Animals make their way to the ark in pairs. And, in addition to the rain (a new phenomenon), the fountains of the deep blast out impressively at a very fortuitous moment. Then there are the fallen angels.
The garden of Eden is prominent in the story and items from the garden exist even in Noah’s time. Keep an eye out for shed skin from the garden serpent and for something taken from the garden and passed down through Seth’s descendants.
Concerns of Some Conservative Believers
After watching Noah, I read a number of reviews by conservative Christians. Some really don’t like this movie, though others do.
The story of creation is explained day-by-day as described in Genesis, but some conservatives object to the implication of theistic evolution even though Adam is not produced from lower animals.
Problems for some conservatives begin to appear just as the rains start, but these problems are more inconsistent with traditional interpretation of the flood than they are with the biblical story. Some conservative reviewers object to the environmental aspects of the movie, and the story of the wives of Ham and Japheth are unsatisfactory because they don’t fit the biblical text precisely.
Noah grapples with the meaning of what is happening and the significance of what he is called to do. A number of reviewers think he is portrayed as a madman, but I don’t think his portrayal is at odds with the biblical text. And isn’t a man who builds a huge ship in the middle of dry land a madman already?
Some conservative reviewers disliked the final fate of the Watchers; I loved it!
There are other complaints.
Should You See Noah?
I think Noah is a powerful story and a fresh, creative interpretation of Noah’s flood. I don’t recommend movies to others because we all have very different tastes, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it; in fact I was delighted!
If you see Noah, I hope you are delighted too. If you tend to become teary-eyed when watching movies you might want to bring along some tissues for a few scenes.
Click here for trailers and stills from the movie.
I invite your comments and observations below.
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Have a great day! ~Tim