Friday, September 26, 2014


Finally got around to watching the film, Noah. I don't look to Hollywood for Biblical interpretation but this was a creative midrash on the text. We all use our imaginations when we read the Bible. I was wowed by the size of the ark, and the multitude of animals on board. The landscape was as bleak as the human race had become. There was a powerful scene when Noah goes down to see what the sons of men had become and we are seeing through his eyes what God sees and maybe have a little more understanding why God grieved that he had made humankind. Tubal-Cain is the leader of the rebellious humans and we are reminded of his serpent - like intentions visually and metaphorically as he asserts his will to get what he wants. The scenes at the end, post flood, are moving as these saved humans begin to get what God has done. Noah did not know why God had done it, he figured they would be the last humans to die. He does not believe he is a righteous man only that God has chosen him to get the task done. This doesn't make a lot of sense because why would God go to all the trouble of building an ark to save some from the flood if he did not have a plan to continue the survival of the human race. But, we miss the point, too, when God has made his will clear. Noah got so caught up in his interpretation of what God was doing he was not open to what the others saw.

 Until his turning point when he feels like he has failed God and himself and goes off on a drunk. As the film ends on a note of grace, the family of Noah (minus one and the addition of three) worship at an altar of God's second chances and the renewal of the earth.

The film answered several questions I had about the Noah story, like where did the wood come from to build the ark, and how were the animals managed during their long trip, and how did Noah with only his small family to help get the job done, and where did the wives come from for Noah's sons, etc, and most were creative answers that were also plausible. There were other issues I had never connected with Noah before, i.e., was he a vegan, environmentalist, and a respecter of the rights of animals as we would say today. Again, I don't think the director was trying to score political points as much as creating a plausible way of looking at life then.

We might not expect the film to follow the Biblical text as closely as it does and to handle that which the text does not speak of directly sensitively but I thought it did both. Noah played by Russel Crowe is a rough bear of a man who doesn't talk much but carries a big stick and can use it. He seems confused by God's choice of him since he seems not to see himself or his family as any better than anyone else (his wife rightly disagrees).  At first he has a clue about God's plan and then he seems to lose that clue only to find it again at the end. There is not much about Noah's self understanding in the Bible so we can only speculate. This is a very human Noah which of course he was. He does get it right when he says he was chosen because God chose him for God's own reasons. The Bible says Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Indeed, he did.

This Hollywood film about Noah directed by a man of Jewish faith is full of God. Most often he is referred to as the Creator but everyone is reacting to him either for or against. The Creator's purpose and plan is the story line and the characters live their lives with that in mind. The script has not changed.