This weekend the epic blockbuster NOAH finally opened. The most controversial movie of the year is now able to be screened by the public and much of the uproar about what the movie was going to potentially be will all be put to bed.
It will win the weekend in box office receipts and in doing so become the third significant Biblically oriented narrative to leave its mark in this still very young cinema season. The previous successes of Son Of God, and God’s Not Dead will both still finish in the top 15. Add the non-faith but for-the-most-part “family friendly” offerings of Divergent, Muppets, Mr. Peabody,The LEGO Movie, and Frozen and you end up with likely 5 of the top 6, 6 of the top 10, and perhaps 8-10 of the top 15 movies in America this weekend aimed at faith and family audiences.
The earnings on these types of films for the past two weeks alone will be north of $200 million, to date since release they are north of 1.3 billion–and it’s only April.
As to NOAH specifically, far too many folks, said far too much, about a film they had not seen, and attempted to poison the waters. Some for different reasons from despising the fact that an espoused atheist directed the film (of Jewish descent.) Some because they had their own special release DVD by the same title that they wished to piggy back from the buzz with. Whatever the case, anyone who criticized the film without seeing it should be dismissed from the conversation immediately. (Note to Glenn Beck. Who said he DID see the film, denounced his own previous criticisms as invalid before launching into a whole series of exaggerations about far more minor problems with the film.)
Now that the film is in theaters, now that it will have won the box office, families will decide for themselves as to whether they feel the film is respectful to the Biblical account or not.
For what its worth, nobody fooled me. The words “inspired by” are always a dead give away that the offering will not be jot and tittle. However, after having walked the red carpet in New York, hearing Darren Aronofsky relay the true childhood story behind his desire to make the film, and then to actually view the final cut I came away pleased with the message the film sends.
Those who worried that scripture would be trashed, should not continue to do so. The film begins at Creation. It reflects a 7 day literal creation (something I did not expect.) God is referred to continuously throughout the film. Man’s wickedness for sexual immorality, child sacrifice, murder, violence to one another, and to the earth is all depicted. (Many of the critics who were worried that this was sensationally and environmentally aimed have overstated the amount of that concern that is evidenced in the final cut. And some of us who always eschew the environment issue outright need to go back and reread Genesis 1-8 because abuse to His creation was one of the things that saddened God.) The film demonstrates Noah’s obedience in the face of mockery. The story depicts the promise of God fulfilled to Noah’s family. It remains true to the key elements of the timeline, the results, and the aftermath.
Many who have critiqued it–I believe–want Noah’s narrative to be the same benign Sunday School story they were told growing up.
The truth is, NOAH can’t be that story because it never WAS that story. (Imagine if you were in the ark, hearing the cries of civilization literally drowning around you. Imagine the desperation you might endure wondering if you were in fact mad because your family was the last family on earth.)
And while I feel confidant that fallen angels didn’t get covered in molten rock and punished by being trapped in that existence, the beings mentioned in Genesis 6:4 have never been easily understood nor agreed upon by scholars–so why not?
What viewing NOAH inspired me to do, was to go and read the Genesis account again, several times, in different translations. It caused me to reflect upon impressions I’ve carried with me most of my life about the story, to see how inaccurate I was in my own faulty memory of the story, and to my surprise find things that Aronofsky included that I had somehow missed.
There are also things he added in blank portions of the story to fill it in for the sake of a movie needing to tell narrative.
Having said all of that if someone sees the film and decides, “it’s just too far out there to take my children to,” then that’s a fair observation and no one should force any film on anyone else who may feel uncomfortable with it.
But there are two major reasons I believe support of the film matters.
1. The entire conversation in the usually profane or utterly bane universe that is entertainment industry this weekend will be about a primary character from the Bible. Even if most of the film was wrong (which it overwhelmingly is not) this would be a societal benefit worth exploiting.
2. The previous Aronofsky film to NOAH was a lesbian-laced-acid-trip labeled Black Swan. Paramount Studios’ last big film was the sex, drug, and self indulgence saturated Wolf Of Wall Street. If we want directors and studios to make films more palatable for families it is important to support them when they do.
I was asked many times to weigh in on NOAH before I saw it this week. I refused to do so. I didn’t praise it, but I also didn’t write snarky blog posts or op-eds about Christian leaders who did.
I found that prudence would have me be informed about a subject matter before opining about it.
I wish that inclination would’ve been visited upon many of my colleagues in both conservative and Christian media these last three months.
Our causes looked foolish and silly because they did not.