Noah – Blockbuster or Bible-buster?

I cannot recall doing a movie review on either of my blogs (yes, I had one before MM) in the 5 years I’ve been blogging. And I don’t like veering from content that’s specific to marriage, particularly “messy marriage,” but today I’m going to do that because entertainment and cultural views of the Bible are important issues to marriage and families. I’m also veering from my rule of 600 word count or less too. There’s just too much ground to cover here!

Noah Review

Here are my thoughts …

Noah is a movie with many personas …

Think Transformers, Lord of the Rings, Passion of the Christ, The Birds, and Divergent all rolled into one, with a dash of “Tinkerbell” thrown in for good measure!

I suppose Hollywood feared that a movie about a Bible story would prove to be too bland without a blockbuster storyline thrown in to ensure ticket sales—nevermind the fact that the actual account involves mass-genocide, the earth being wiped out and a giant boat that saves a family along with two of each kind of animal!

I get that. I really do! I don’t even blame them. In fact, what I’m about to say about it might seem to take this in a direction that might surprise you. But first let me get some incidentals out of the way.

Transformers – The writers and producers decided to take artistic license and interpret the “Nephilim” that are mentioned in Gen. 6:4 as spirits that originally protected humans but that became cursed. The curse left the “Nephalim” as rocky (no, I’m not referring to another blockbuster) creatures that were eerily similar to those in Transformers. Of course, these rocky creatures were in the form of what looked like “Tinkerbell” fairies to me before the curse. There’s nothing worse than being a fairy confined to a bulky rock-suit. But I digress …

Lord of the Rings – Much of the cinematography and landscape reminded me of the Lord of the Rings movies along with the spiritual and mystical messages interwoven for dramatic effect. I have to say this is one area where Noah shines–especially if you see it in I-max like my husband and I did. This is one of those movies that warrants the extra cost.

Passion of the Christ – The story in Noah explores the creation story as well, referring to Satan and the temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis. There’s a recurrent image of a snake, representing the “serpent” (Gen. 3:1-5) that Satan took the form of in the Garden with Eve. I was glad to see that this movie, like Passion of the Christ did not shy away from the reality of Satan and the deception and temptation he played in the fall of man.

The Birds – There’s a scene when the birds are instinctively flying to the ark that reminded me of the old Hitchcock classic. But no one was picked-off by the feathered flyers.

Divergent – I have not seen divergent but kept thinking as I was watching the movie unfold just how much the movie “diverged” from the account in the Bible. Sure, there are lots of places that are not clearly spelled out in the text, but some directions the movie takes are clearly in contradiction to the Bible. Do not go to this movie expecting it to be biblically accurate. If you do, you’ll be frustrated and annoyed!

Two more quick observations I want to add …

  1. There’s clearly a Protect the Earth and Go-Green underlying message.
  2. There’s also a clear message against eating meat or killing animals for any reason.

I don’t really have complaints about any of the issues I’ve pointed out above, including the last two observations (even though they do not exactly reflect my convictions). I know if Noah had been produced strictly by born-again believers who wanted to stay as close to the scriptures as possible, there would be an underlying agenda that others would see. It’s the author’s right, at least in our country.

In fact, the movie did show a statement about it being a fictionalized retelling (for which I was grateful) of the biblical account, but I had to sit through a very long list of credits to see it and I was one of the last to leave. My preference here would’ve been that this disclaimer would be mentioned as the movie began or just before beginning. I do think there will be those who won’t cross check the accuracy and base their knowledge of the story of Noah upon Hollywood’s version. That would trouble me, but not enough to forgo seeing it and discussing it with others.

Here’s what I like about Noah the movie …

  • It was a movie with an epic feel.
  • It had amazing cinematography.
  • It wrestled with the problem of sin and goodness without giving us easy answers nor dismissing them as invalid either.
  • It had compelling acting and a well-written storyline. In fact, that leads me to the next reason I liked it …
  • It kept me on the edge of my seat because I didn’t know where they were going to “diverge” from the story I knew from scripture. I kept trying to guess how they were going to resolve certain conflicts and I never guessed correctly. In my view, this was far from predictable.
  • It made me want to go back, read and refresh my memory of the Genesis account.
  • It immersed me in an experience that opened my eyes to many facets and implications of the great flood.

My Bottom Line

I know there are some who say we shouldn’t go to movies that veer so drastically from the Bible story because that’s sending the wrong message to Hollywood. They can take as much creative license as they want and we’ll dutifully dole out the admission price. Yeah, I get that, but I see the other side of this too, where Hollywood will decide not to make these kinds of family-friendly movies at all and we’ll be left with the overwhelming abundance of R-rated flicks and cringe-worthy content of so many completely secular-themed movies.

There are also those who fear that this will leave many confused or deceived about the true story. I agree, but those people have a choice to read and become informed. And that’s where I like the movie Noah the most … it will encourage people to read the Bible or at the very least talk about the biblical account and the implications that it raises. That’s when and where we, as Christians, must act. We must do our part, not by boycotting a movie, but by gently and respectfully engaging unbelievers and misinformed believers in spiritual discussions that can eventually lead to clarity on the Gospel and our amazing Savior, Christ.

That’s where I want to spend richly and, I believe, it will be well-worth the price of I-max and popcorn!

 

What do you think? Will you see the movie? Why or why not?

 

Signature - Beth

 

 

 

 

 

*************************

Linking up with – Marriage MondaysMaking Your Home Sing MondaySunday Stillness, Monday’s Musings, Sharing His Beauty and Playdates with God

0 0 0 0 0
  • Mary

    So glad to read your review. I have already seen some others comment that they walked out exactly for the reason you suggested they should not leave-it does not align with the Biblical account. I am not much of a movie goer but this movie has intrigued me and your review gives me more reasons than not to try it out. Happy Weekend!

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      I think if I hadn’t prepared myself for the fact that it wouldn’t stay close to the story, I’d have felt the same way, Mary. I was, however, surprised by just how MUCH they veered from the biblical account. I do hope you see it, just so that you can discuss it with others with understanding and not assumptions. Love ya, my friend!

  • Vicki Lammert

    Thanks for sharing this Beth! It’s good to hear what to expect. I saw a short interview with the director who clearly said that they took “artistic license” with the film and being aware of that, I still plan to see it. I agree that if this movie makes a non-believer curious about the story enough to pick up a bible and read it, it’s a positive thing!

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      Yes, I heard that they were going to post the disclaimer about it being a fictionalized retelling of the Bible story, so I prepared myself for a movie that would be mostly “fiction.” Thanks for your kind words, Vicki! Let me know what you think after you see it!

  • Marie Steinhardt

    Thanks Beth, I appreciate your perspective regarding this movie! I haven’t seen Noah yet, but feel better about possibly seeing it now. You’re right, if we don’t support family-friendly movies we won’t have much to choose from in the future. I’m excited to see God’s Not Dead soon.

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      I can’t wait to see God’s Not Dead either! I think you’re going to beat me to it, though! You may be going to it as I type this! ha! Hope you enjoy your popcorn and let me know what you thought about it, girlfriend!

  • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

    My hubbie and I aren’t much for movies, but I am more inclined to see this now that I’ve seen your review. Your point about this movie being an open door to engage and discuss with others is a great one. I’m not surprised they took artistic license. I guess I had assumed that they did, and would have been pleasantly surprised if they didn’t. :-)

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      Yeah, I assumed that too, after hearing about it before it was released. But I’d love to know what you’re thoughts are after you see it, Kim. Another plus-side to this movie, it makes for a great date night!

  • Emily Davis

    We must have been on the same wave length this morning…

    http://emilysestuary.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/noah-and-nativity-stones/

    I love the Transformers movies….. but I will pass on Noah, because I feel it is more of the same violence, etc. BUT – i do think people should see it – with the right expectations.
    Blessings,
    Em

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      Yes, I’ve heard about many other bloggers who have taken this opportunity to discuss a hot topic, Emily. And yes, it did have a lot of violence, but much of the violence in my opinion was not graphic like so many violent movies tend toward. I could tell that when someone was hit/killed in battle, the computer graphics almost made the person evaporate. So there wasn’t much blood or gore. But nevertheless, an intense/dramatic movie experience.

  • http://www.creeksideministries.blogspot.com/ Linda@Creekside

    Yep … we’ll be seeing it next weekend … with your movie review in hand! Maybe you’ve got a new career blossoming?
    ;-}
    I love movies. Sad to say, there aren’t too many out there worth shelling out the bucks …

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      I’ve always loved reading movie reviews and almost always hit pluggedin for Focus on the Family’s reviews before going to a movie, so it seems like something of a good fit for me, Linda. I have to say it was a lot of fun to write this, but writing on marriage is where God’s burdened my heart. Probably won’t be trying a new career-venture anytime soon!

  • Donna Hagan

    Thanks Beth for your interesting review. I would like to add a little information for those who are interested in a little background before deciding if you want to see the film. The producer of Noah is a self-professed atheist. In a Washington post article, he states that “he is proud of the fact that he’s taken a story inspired by God’s Word and turned it into something so secular.” You can Google the entire article “Atheist Noah director brags film is the least Biblical movie ever.” While it would be great (and I hope it would) if the movie would encourage viewers to read the Biblical account, I doubt if that was the intention of the atheist producer. On the contrary, it might unfortunately blind the them forever from the truth. 2 Cor. 4:4 “the god (Satan) of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      Yes, it is sad that such an amazing biblical account is produced by an atheist, Donna. But I also find that it’s just like God to draw, not just the audience of this movie to Himself and His Word, but also the man who set about to produce it. I wonder how the story might have impacted him. Who knows what depths of that man’s heart God may be mining as we speak!

      I’m also glad you’ve mentioned this point about the producer, Donna. I didn’t know at the time I’d written this that it was an atheist who produced it, although it doesn’t surprise me given the types of producers available in Hollywood. But I think we can also look at this as similar to Paul’s perspective in Philippians 1:15-18. “… in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” Satan may try to deceive and darken the understanding of those who view this, but I know that God is at work here as well–drawing all men to Him, no matter whether this is handed to us on an atheist’s platter or not. Thanks for adding to the discussion, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Your description of the Nephilim as ‘rocky’ has given me the hysterical thought of being beset by a horde of Stallone clones chanting “Yoooo…ADRIAN!”

    Thanks a LOT.

    I’d like to see it if I’m well enough. Every filmed story’s got to be fictionalized to some degree – “Band of Brothers”, “We Were Soldiers”, and “Black Hawk Down” all had to take liberties because of the constraints of the medium. But they caught the essence, and that is what’s vital.

    That Hollywood would even consider a big-budget film on Noah is nothing short of incredible, and would have been unthinkable in the past few decades. And people will pick up a Bible after seeing it, because from what I’ve heard – it brings the Bible to life.

    In talking with non-Christians and agnostics (I’ve never met a genuine atheist), I have been struck by the similarity of their criticism – being exposed to the KJV left them feeling that the Bible was a stilted, rigid story of people whose actions were less than believable. They couldn’t relate.

    The movies of the 60s and 70s didn’t help much – Jesus with a BBC accent?

    “The Passion” kicked down that door, and there is a definite hunger for the reality of the Bible. And make no mistake – it was a violent time, and for many there was no law but the sword. Present-day Crips and Bloods would have felt quite at home, but for a lack of Glocks and AKs.

    The thing Christians should consider is how to capitalize on the current interest, not through criticism and ‘correct teaching’ but by saying that yes, these were real people, just like you and me and Rambo, faced with a situation gone totally out of human control. We can’t know what the real folks said to one another, but we can infer – and more importantly, imagine what they said and did by putting ourselves in their place.

    Thus the magic of cinema, and thus the first step to conviction.

    (Correct teaching is important, but it’s pretty rare. Consider the preachers who pull Scripture nuggets to say “God wants you to be RICH!” when Jesus said “sell what you have, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Me”. They do a bigger disservice to the Almighty than the liberties in Noah.)

    Sorry for the lengthy response – this is a subject that really interests me. I think it’s a great opportunity for meaningful evangelism, and we should grab hold.

    And hang on.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2014/03/rejected-by-your-spouse.html

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      I agree about being shocked that Hollywood would try to depict the story of Noah, Andrew. And yes, Passion of the Christ did open doors for more of the like. I’m grateful that Hollywood is waking up and taking notice of the desires of the Christian and seeker audience. I know that many view this as a compromise when we view and give money to something that isn’t accurate. I’ve struggled with that reality too, but this is one of those areas where I’d rather do what I have more influence in and I believe that is influencing the people I discuss this movie with and not influencing an atheist director with one less ticket bought.

      Oh, yes! It is a great opportunity for meaningful evangelism! So true, my friend! Thanks for stopping by and weighing in, Andrew!

  • Cindy Rotter

    Great review, Beth. Appreciate how well thought out your points are. Haven’t seen it yet but definitely plan to. It’s nice to hear someone’s opinion that actually watched the entire movie. Think a lot of the derogatory things we’ve heard have come from people who haven’t seen the movie.

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      Yes, there are many who might want to criticize this before seeing it, Cindy. I guess I just think there are some things we must understand and be informed on. It seems to me that Jesus was found more often among sinners in their places of entertainment–hoping to have the same kinds of conversations we can have here today regarding a movie loosely based upon a Bible story. The “secular world” will see our boycotting of such a movie as “judgmental” based upon ignorance–keeping us from being “all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Thanks so much for your kindness and support to me, sweet friend!

  • http://www.lisanotes.com/ Lisa notes…

    I haven’t seen Noah yet but I want to, and especially after hearing from you, Beth! My niece saw it yesterday and really liked it as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, both positive and negatives about it, because that helps us all make an informed decision. Praying you have a restful week!

  • http://lauraboggess.com/ Laura Boggess

    Thanks for this thoughtful review, Beth. I’d really like to see the movie and your thoughts help to prepare me. We are not big theater goers in this house, usually waiting for the video release, but we shall see. Sounds like a good way to spend an evening.

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Beth, your bottom line reason for seeing this film–that it will move others to go the TheSource, The Bible itself–for answers, can only be a good thing. Great review–I’m with you. :-)

  • Baby Mama

    Philippians 1:15-18

    It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…

  • http://patsypat.blogspot.com/ patsy

    I hope it shows in my country, the Philippines. I was not planning to watch it because of a review I read about it the producer or director having an agenda, but I see your point. If my son wants to watch it, I will require that he read the story from the Bible first or after he watches the movie. Great review!!! patsy

  • JosephPote

    I don’t usually watch Hollywood movies with a biblical theme, simply because I expect to be disappointed.
    After reading your review, I may make an exception for this one.
    I did find myself laughing at one of your points…the message against eating meat or killing animals for any reason. It struck me as funny because prior to the flood only green plants were given to mankind as food, but after the flood God specifically gave animals to mankind as food (Genesis 9:3-4).
    I’ve often pondered the reason for the dietary change. I have some theories, but none that seem to fully answer the why. Still, it made me laugh that the movie producers wound up with the opposite message from the biblical record…
    On the Nephilim interpretation, I must say I’m somewhat impressed by your description of the movie. While the producer’s interpretation does not match mine, we are given very little information about the Nephilim. The impressive part is that they actually picked up on this little detail of the biblical record that so many Christians completely miss.
    Thanks for the review!

  • http://www.hopeinthehealing.com Nannette Elkins

    Oh my…I guess I would be one of the few that would disagree with my wonderful friend today! Love you so much and respect you but I have a differing opinion on this one. I cannot review it since I have not seen it, nor do I plan to. I am simply appalled by what they have done to the Biblical account of Noah. It would not have been any more difficult to have stayed with the original story…is Hollywood so desperate for story lines that they have to chop up one of the oldest known stories ever?

    I believe Hollywood has an agenda, always has, and it only grows worse with time. They didn’t make this move FOR the Christian community, nor did they make it to generate interest in the Bible. I believe they are laughing all the way to the bank. And bank they will! To say that we should support anything Hollywood puts out as long as we use it as an opportunity to “teach” seems ludicrous to me, with all due respect :)..

    If this movie had taken the story of Mohammed and distorted it, the Muslim community would be outraged and have the movie banned. I am not saying we should do the same, anyone has the right to see any movie that they wish. Christians shouldn’t be standing on the street corner with placards. We should continue to do what we have always done. Preach TRUTH, not judgment.

    Of course the “secular world” will say we are judgmental…but shouldn’t we be offended by what they have done to the Word of God? Which says, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:19-19. Matthew Henry’s commentary on that verse says this, “All are condemned who should dare to corrupt or change the word of God, either by adding to it, or taking from it.” I surely am not a judge, and do not want to be perceived as having a vindictive spirit. Not at all! I am just guarding the Word and take it seriously when it was breathed and inspired by God. I just cannot support something that blatantly makes light of the Word of God.

    What WOULD offend Christians if this doesn’t?

    To say that Jesus was found more often among sinners in their places of entertainment: Sure He went to the sinner, He reached out with love and compassion and offered them hope, not confusion. When they desecrated the house of worship, He reacted even with anger, saying they had made it a “den of thieves”. How much more angry would He be at this twisting and adding to-taking away of the Word?

    Rock people? Noah’s crazy desire to kill off his entire family? They didn’t have to do any of that. It would have been a blockbuster hit even if they had stuck with the original story. The amazing cinematography and technology available today to the movie industry would have, and could have, made this a masterpiece…much as The Ten Commandments was many years ago.

    Whew! I haven’t said that much since it came out, lol, and I know many will not agree. We can agree to disagree. I have just shared my heart as others have theirs. Sure, I pray for this man and those involved, they just need God, not a warped view of Christianity and the Bible. God is real and He changes hearts and lives…my prayer would be that revival would sweep through Hollywood! Wouldn’t that be amazing!

    Thank you for your honest thoughts, Beth, and for the opportunity to share mine as well. Blessings to you friend, I do hope you are having a good week and feeling well enough to enjoy the Spring that has sprung! ♥

    • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

      It sounds like a struck a nerve with you, Nannette! ha! Really, though, I’ve never liked venturing into controversial waters and I knew my words might offend many who I agree with biblically and religiously in so many ways. In fact, I’ve really been trying to grapple with this line, we as a Christian community must tow. When the movie, Son of God came out and I heard some of the inaccuracies and the artistic license the producers and writers took there, I was ready to wage a boycott and let all who I influence know about it. I didn’t like anyone distorting Christ, his words, actions or what He came to do. But then I read some other reviews. i talked to many Christians about it (sorry to say, not many non-Christians) and feel a responsibility to be informed about what I criticize. I respect your right to not go to this movie and stand up for what you believe is blasphemous. I think God will use both of us, but perhaps in different ways. Don’t get me wrong, I really found it sad that they couldn’t see the amazing story of God’s love and redemption here. But then, it was viewed through an atheist’s eyes, right? How could he see it the way we do? And I wonder where are the Christian film makers who could have championed this endeavor? Perhaps that’s one more way we as believers have failed to make a difference. I just don’t ever want to say that what an unbeliever does will hinder what God ultimately will do, as well as redeem from this very fictional retelling. I believe this movie could’ve drawn in a lot of people simply by sticking to the story and offering an epic film experience, for sure, Nanette. It saddens me that they didn’t see it that way. But perhaps God allowed this to play out for many reasons. Many of which we won’t know fully in this lifetime. But perhaps one of them is the very controversy that drives us to write long-winded replies in blog posts :) and discuss from the love and passion we have in our hearts for God. Would we be discussing this as much, if it didn’t strike at the very heart of our beliefs? I hope that you know I’m not hurt by your words, my friend. I hope you also know that I totally get them and even though I didn’t focus on the negatives as much in this film, I definitely felt offended by the “divergence” they took–make no mistake! I just decided not to reject it but to use it for something I can control–what I discuss with others–just like you’ve used your control to take a stand. God willing, neither of us will hinder His greater and higher purposes. I just don’t believe this producer can thwart them either. Love and hugs being sent your way and thanks also for trusting me enough to share your heart here, sweet Nannette!

      • http://www.hopeinthehealing.com Nannette Elkins

        Heavens no, I’m not offended! I tried so hard to say everything with love, it’s hard with the written word to say it with a smile :) I did, and do, feel safe sharing here. I wasn’t afraid I would be ostracized by any stretch of the imagination. I just look at it differently this time. I totally agree God can use things for His purpose, as in a post I just wrote God can overrule, undo or redeem it for His purpose.

        But in no way do I think He would sanction such a blatant distortion of the Word of God. It has only brought confusion to the minds of unbelievers and young people that have never heard the Noah story, and for sure there are thousands, will go away from that movie with a totally messed up view of God (who they portray as hating everyone and wanting to destroy them) of Noah (who they portray as hating the human race and wanting to destroy them) and the reason the flood happened in the first place. It’s crazy, to be sure. And yes, I like the discussion :) and like I said, I am not going out on the street corner inciting protests, lol. I am NOT that kind of a Christian.

        I have only commented on one other blog post, Matt Walsh I believe, about the movie. Oh, and Jacinda at Growing Home? Her husband has written a wonderful review of it. Loved his perspective too.

        I love you friend…I don’t care that we disagree, it’s America!! :) Blessings to you as always. Love your friendship!! ♥