Noah was a film that I was anxious to see. I wanted to see how Hollywood would portray something as tragic as the Flood and the piety of Noah. Noah was a total bust. I won’t re-tell the movie version because it’s such a hit at theaters that by now many people already know or have seen the movie. But I did want to use the movie as a backdrop to talk highlight some parts of the account in Genesis 6-9.
I went on opening night. The lines were long and the comments were heard rising above the crowds seated in the theater. I tried to keep realistic expectations. I didn’t expect a biblical account that was strictly to the text because frankly, there isn’t much text to work with to produce a 1.5 hour film (this one is 2). Obviously they met that expectation. I also expected some artistic license and that happened. On the positive side, I expected to see some great cinematography of the waters and that was met as well.
The movie fell short mainly in two big areas in my opinion. First is the depiction of Noah. Noah is depicted as someone who views himself as God’s executioner of justice. His faith in God is very shallow. His faith in the promises of God are non-existent. Noah interprets the flood of God as a judgment on man because humanity has mistreated creation. As a result God will now destroy all creation and will only leave the animals on the planet.
Even the casual reader of the Bible remembers the promise God gave in Genesis 3. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”” (Genesis 3:15 ESV) Noah left me asking “What happened to the promise?” Noah was a person who is a man of faith in the Bible. But in the movie he is the ever pessimistic realist.
My first issue is the portrayal of Noah. My second issue is the portrayal of God. God is portrayed as a distant “Creator”. He lacks intimacy with his people. The people are wanting to talk to the “Creator” but he doesn’t answer. Yes, the Flood is a picture of God’s wrath. But it is also a picture of his mercy. He saves Noah and his family. The thing that Noah misunderstands, is that God doesn’t need Noah. Noah needed God. And unlike the movie, it isn’t Noah who closes the door to the ark, it’s God. “And the LORD shut him in.” (Genesis 7:16 ESV)
The reason these two things stand out is because without the promise and without God’s mercy you don’t have the Gospel. You have humanity living in a world of law trying to justify themselves. The lesson the characters in the movie learned is to love each other better. But the lesson in Scripture is that “obedience is better than sacrifice.”