Noah: a Movie Review

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.

Noah the Movie

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.

That’s it!

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.
If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please sign up in the column to the right so you don’t miss future posts.
Have a great day! ~Tim
This entry was posted in book or movie review, creationism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Noah: a Movie Review

  1. Pam says:

    Thank you for your insightful comments into this somewhat controversial movie.

    Like

  2. coachmbrown says:

    Thank you for your insight. My wife are planning on seeing it this weekend. Any opportunity for the media to raise questions in the minds of the curious, I am all for it. Our responsibility is to be open and ready to give the reason for our hope when we are invited to do so…

    Like

  3. Tiffani says:

    I also watched and enjoyed Noah so much that I went to see it a second time. I think your insights are spot-on – this was a very well done film with a complex plot that really brought the fabled Bible story to life in a manner that is faithful to the source material (I heard they even built TWO arks according to accurate dimensions!). I thought the complexity of all the characters was the best part of the film, and Ham was for me the most intriguing character. I wish conservatives hadn’t responded to it so harshly, but I guess that is bound to happen whenever you apply midrash to a Bible story. 🙂

    Like

    • Tiffani, I like your statement that the film, “Brought the fabled Bible story to life in a manner that is faithful to the source material.” I agree.

      Even though it had a lot of creativity in it, it was true to the source text, which I believe to be a fable. It had to have some creative detail or it would have been a film short.

      Like

      • TimP says:

        Hi Tim,

        I think it is also a fable and yet why is this written in Luke 17?

        26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

        I know from reading much of your site that you believe the Gospels to be more believable and accurate than any other parts of the Bible. So is this a couple of verses that you feel should not be there or is Jesus really referring to a fable, or does he know something we don’t ?

        Interested to know your views as always.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Hi TimP. I consider the story of the flood to be just that–a story, and I believe this for a number of reasons. But you raise a good point: “If the flood is fiction, then why did Jesus refer to it? So it must be historical and accurate for Jesus to use it as he did and validate it as true.”

          But referring to a popular story does not mean the story actually happened, though it does provide a familiar point of reference. I went to college in Tennessee and often drove down the long stretch of I-75 to my home in Florida. I often compared myself to Huckleberry Finn floating down the Mississippi River and having many adventures along the way. Many people are familiar with the story of Huckleberry Finn, so they could see the connection to my experience on I-75.

          But wait! Did Finn really float down the Mississippi? Was I demonstrating that I thought he and his adventures were real? Nobody thought that. When Jesus used the comparison of the flood, people could see what he meant: While people went about their normal business the flood came and they were caught by surprise. The story need not be historical to be effective–it simply must be familiar enough for people to get the point.

          What do you think?

          Like

          • TimP says:

            Thanks for taking the time to reply Tim. I think I lean towards your thoughts particularly as scientifically I don’t really see any evidence for the flood. It would have made it easier if it said something like “Just as it was in the story of Noah…” though!

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            TimP, I would agree with that. It would certainly reduce confusion.

            Like

  4. Joy Felix says:

    Thanks for the review – I am looking forward to seeing it! I have read on a few Jewish sites that the perceived environmental influence is mainly just Jewish tradition and Judaism. (Though I think it works as an environmental story anyway.) I actually hadn’t brushed up on my Old Testament history, so find your Tubal-Cain explanation helpful!

    Like

  5. Jeff Wishart says:

    I’ve always had an obsession with the Nephilim (Who were these mythic giants who were around before and after the flood). I love the way the Noah movie implemented them. Interesting tie ins to the book of Enoch. Also, the visuals were much bigger and better than I expected. Good movie.

    Like

    • Jeff, I find them interesting too. They are mentioned briefly in Genesis, with little detail; but they are given a lot of development in Enoch. Unfortunately, many Christians believe a narrative very much influenced by Enoch.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s