In celebrating a proper Sunday, my wife and I did three predictable things:
1. We took Sunday afternoon naps.
2. We went out for ice cream at one of the local places which opened for the season recently.
3. We went to see the movie Noah.
We did go to church in the morning, but I figured that would be assumed.
Before going to the movie, we stopped by the local Wal-Mart to kill a little time since we had arrived in town early. While I was mindlessly walking around the store, I ran into a student from my homeroom at the high school; I began asking her about her plans for spring break, etc. When she turned the question to me to ask about what I was doing in town, I told her that Sarah and I were headed over to the theater to see Noah.
“I heard it didn’t get very positive reviews.”
“What did the reviewers not like about it?”
“They added extra stuff not from the Bible.”
“Well, if they made the Bible’s account of the Flood into a movie, it would be pretty boring and long. It would literally be a man talking to a voice from the sky, which would be followed by days upon days upon days of film of nothing more than a man building a giant, honking boat, followed by 40 days worth of video of a family with animals inside a boat while it rained…” (it was at this point that my student cut me off because she understood where I was going with my tangent).
On the drive home from the theater, I kept mulling around the conversation with my student. Yes, there is plenty of additional material in the movie that is not in the Biblical text. Yes, one of the central themes of the Flood from the Bible is that there is a personal God who ultimately loves all His creation (man included) and that this is different from the other pre-historic texts (see Rob Bell’s writing on the topic for a great explanation), and it is absent from the film.
Without the important thematic elements, Noah is a film necessary for the Church, and probably more so than The Passion of the Christ. The added drama, the reality of the suffering en mass for the rest of the world, the psychological breakdown of Noah, are aspects of the Flood story which are glossed over in its presentation. In Sunday School, any materials I was given about the Flood depicted Noah’s family and animals on the sun deck of a boat, and they were all smiling. The typical adult lens presents the importance of the Noah story being that he had faith in bleak circumstances. When considering all of the immediate ramifications of the events pertaining to the Flood, smiling animals and extraordinary faith seem like weak takeaways.
The (Western) Church has reached a level of pascification and certainty where the messiness and complication of life is glossed over. Noah takes a small step toward confronting the Church with the realities that a story like this has.
Next: How about a detailed Nativity narrative with wide-scale abortions of infant male children?
If the viewer wants the Genesis narrative, he or she should read the Book of Genesis or watch The Bible miniseries.