Noah: PETA Meets the Animators by Way of a Wizard, with Mad Max and a Boat

347369 xcitefun noah 2014 movie poster 1

Noah, the movie, is such a messy mish-mash of conflicting memes that I’m not really sure how to characterize it.

It is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which a king, who bears the name Tubal Cain, has supposedly destroyed creation by eating meat and forging weapons of iron. The Biblical Tubal Cain was a descendent of Cain, and he did forge various instruments of bronze and iron, so I’m guessing that’s where the filmmakers got that idea.

The human race has descended to cannibalism and is so obviously on its way out that one wonders why God would bother annihilating it.

Noah and his family, along with the rest of humanity, live in a barren waste that looks like a lava field. There is no vegetation to speak of in this post-apocalyptic world; nothing to sustain the life of even one person, much less a whole “industrial civilization,” which is what the film claims exists.

The narrative arc of the movie is primarily the tale of Noah’s rise and fall in obedience to “the creator.” Noah rises to obedience to “the creator” by building an ark to save the animals, the “innocents” as the movie calls them, from the destruction of the Flood.

“The creator” has ordained that all people should perish, including Noah’s family, which is made inevitable, since Noah and his wife have only sons and the sons have no wives. Noah falls from obedience because he refuses to kill his own granddaughters in order to “end” the human race.

This is a massive departure from both the facts and the meaning of the story of Noah in Scripture. The first human beings with whom God made a covenant were Adam and Eve when He gave them dominion over creation and told them to “be fruitful and multiply.” They deformed this Covenant when they decided to disobey God.

Noah was the second person with whom the Almighty formed a Covenant. God spoke to Noah and gave him specific instructions on what he was to do. He also renewed the Covenant He had made with Adam and Eve with Noah, giving him and his progeny (unlike in the movie, Noah’s sons had wives) dominion over creation and telling them to be fruitful and multiply.

The entire narrative arc of the movie, which is built around the idea that it was God’s will that humanity be obliterated entirely, is anti-Biblical.

There is a brief mention in the movie of the real reason for the Flood, which is that fallen angels had mated with human women and the resulting offspring were such a taint in the human blood line that the line had to end and begin again. The movie is accurate in that the violence of humanity was also given as a reason. The entire line of Cain was wiped from the earth with the Flood.

Rather than connecting the dots about what the Nephilim were, the movie supplies us with Animators in the guise of fallen angels. The angels supposedly fell from grace when they disobeyed “the creator” and tried to help humanity. Their punishment was to become klutzy creatures, encapsulated in rock.

The animator/fallen-angels help Noah build the arc, and end up defending it Mad Max style against an invasion by Tubal-Cain’s hordes just as the rains begin. Their reward for this is that they are forgiven, shed their rock covering and warp off to the skies.

There is nothing in the movie of the grand theme of Noah, the renewer of the Covenant with humanity. The Bible story is edited significantly to provide us with the human-beings-are-bad/animals-are-the-innocents/humanity-must-die arc that the movie version of Noah’s story is woven around.

Noah’s movie encounters with God are limited to dreams. Instead of the precise instructions that the Almighty gave Noah in the Scriptures, we are treated to a Quest in which Noah goes to visit his grandfather Methuselah who acts as shaman and wizard. Methuselah lives in a cave with no food or visible means to provide food, and no contact with other humans.

He gives Noah a potion to drink which makes “the creator’s” plan a bit more clear to him. Later in the film, Methuselah heals Noah’s adoptive daughter with a touch, thus enabling her to bear the children which lead to Noah’s downfall. Methuselah does this at the behest of Noah’s wife, who, in a repeat of the Eve story, is the instrument which leads to Noah’s failure to obey “the creator.”

Instead of renewing the original Covenant with Adam and Eve, which is what the Bible story is about, Noah ends up renewing the Fall.

The Biblical story ends with humanity beginning again with God’s blessing. The movie ends on a hopeless note of fallen humanity separated from God forever. The only creatures who gain redemption are — get ready for this — the fallen angels.

Frankly, I think the movie makers are trying to get some of those $$$ that people of faith control. But they can’t bring themselves to make a movie that actually deals with the message that resonates throughout Scripture.

We are made in God’s image. We are fallen. We do have dominion over all creation. That is why we can tease out things like the Big Bang and unravel the secrets of how God did it when He made everything, everywhere. Although we are made of the dust of this earth and are bone and flesh, we are, in this essential quality, not the least bit like the animals. We can do great goodness. We can also commit great sin.

The Scriptures are the story of Jesus. Noah and the Covenant God made with him is the beginning of God’s active interaction with a fallen and depraved humanity. Over long millennia of slow interaction, God will raise up a people, who, after many falls and much chastisement, will give humanity its Christ, the final and absolute un-doer of the curse of the Fall.

I don’t expect a movie about Noah to tell this whole story. But I do expect it to be faithful enough to the Biblical narrative that I can, by watching it, place that story within the narrative whole of the Scriptures. This movie goes the other direction in order to deliver a message that is not only not part of the Biblical narrative, but in most ways, it runs counter to it.

Human dominion over creation becomes sinful when it becomes exploitation and destruction. We, alone of all the beings on this planet, have the capacity to chose, and our call in relation to creation is to chose to be responsible in how we use it.

This strikes to the heart of our politics, commerce and endless warfare. It shows us our sins in a glaring way that many people deny.

But the PETA-esq meme of this movie denies the essential fact of humanity as it relates to the created universe. We have dominion; it was created for us.

 

  • SisterCynthia

    Sounds like an ungodly mess, both literally and metaphorically. We’ll see what word of mouth does for it next weekend. Of course, Capt. America 2: Winter Soldier is out next week, so even if word was great it would probably see a drop in the domestic office. Around the world, in places like Asia where the Bible is not really known, who knows how it will do? To them, it may just be a cool fantasy spectacle.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Yeah, I want to see Captain America!

      • Rob B.

        I want to see (and probably will see) both. :)

  • https://twitter.com/liberteh Sean Alderman

    That’s in interesting take on the whole thing. I don’t agree entirely, as I really enjoyed the film. I didn’t go into it expecting scriptural perfection, as it seems to be difficult to achieve such in 1. a movie, and 2. a movie created by someone who does not subscribe to organized religion, much less someone who through a non-Christian family background would not understand the texts as we do even if he were religious. So often in scripture, it seems we focus more on the factual detail and not enough on the meaning. This is very evident in a number of cases where scripture quotes scripture incorrectly. Perhaps the singular point to take away is that such cases are of lesser importance than the big picture meaning of God’s word in the given context.

    Things that I enjoyed most were (in no particular order):
    1. The creation account told over fast-frame film. Ken Ham is really angry, which in my opinion is a good thing. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye might also be fuming.
    2. The way family lineage is important. Being close in generations to Adam and Eve, having lost some, but not all of the family legacy as each generation passed. Such is true today, but the instead of a God given legacy the passage of history has renamed legacy as wealth, power, celebrity, etc. For whatever reason, I had a great connection to what it might have been like to be so close in time to the creator and the fall.
    3. Fire destroys, water cleanses. I thought this did well to prefigure baptism in so many ways. Theologically we die in baptism and are reborn into a new creation, while not entirely obvious so it was explained in the film.
    4. The use of creation story language both by Noah and by Tubal Cain. Both showed extremes in their understanding for “have dominion over and subdue” Noah’s versions to use only what is needed, Tubal’s version to make all of creation a means to an end. I liked both portrayals because I see this so much in daily life, politics, faith, family, everywhere.

    • hamiltonr

      I agree with you about the fast forward of creation. I thought that was excellent.

      Departing from the story in some ways is fine with me. Movies are a different medium than Scripture. It isn’t that it was unfaithful to the facts. It is that it was antithetical to the spirit and meaning, not only of the Noah story, but of the whole of the Scriptures themselves.

      • https://twitter.com/liberteh Sean Alderman

        I guess we all see different things. I went to see the movie based on Steven D. Greydanus’ assessment before it was released. I have appreciated his take on films for a long while, I guess we share a few thought processes in common.

        I enjoyed Fr. Barron’s review of it today. I enjoyed his reference to the family putting the animals to sleep, although I didn’t connect it to incense in the Liturgy…but then I’m not a priest.

        Fr. Baron’s piece: http://wordonfire.org/Written-Word/articles-commentaries/April-2014/Noah–A-Post-Modern-Midrash.aspx

        SDG’s piece: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/steven-greydanus/sdg-on-noah

      • Clare Krishan

        re “Movies are a different medium than Scripture.” And for we incarnated embodied receivers of Christian revelations where the medium is the message, Scripture is only a partial medium, the other part? Creation.

        The film creatively imagines the drama of men who had not the passive benefits of revelation via Scripture, of men who encountered the phenomenon directly in person and who were receptive to the data their senses formed in the different ‘mediums’: knowledge and understanding lived out in intentional acts nurturing fruits of sophia-wisdom in their progeny. Indeed one could view the movie’s climax as a spiritual reflection on the Peaceable Kingdom of Isaiah 11:
        ח וְשִׁעֲשַׁע יוֹנֵק, עַל-חֻר פָּתֶן; וְעַל מְאוּרַת צִפְעוֹנִי, גָּמוּל יָדוֹ הָדָה. v.8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk’s den. ט לֹא-יָרֵעוּ וְלֹא-יַשְׁחִיתוּ, בְּכָל-הַר
        קָדְשִׁי: כִּי-מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ, דֵּעָה אֶת-יְהוָה, כַּמַּיִם, לַיָּם מְכַסִּים.
        {ס} v.9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for
        the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters
        cover the sea.
        Note how the gifts of the Holy Spirit are enumerated in three pairs “spiritus sapientiæ (Sophia) et intellectus (Syneseus), spiritus consilii (Boleus) et fortitudinis (Ischus), spiritus scientiæ (Gnoseus) et pietatis (Eusebia); conjugated by a communing with a seventh
        “et replebit eum spiritus timoris Domini (φόβου θεοῦ or theophobia)” one could imagine rather like the arms of a menorah lampstand, Your Word is a lamp to my feet of Psalm 119 http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bcv=23119105
        Noe capital letter Nun נ in Hebrew ordinals is the number 50, ie our Pentecost. while the second consonant נֹחַ (N’H het-patach pronounced /ˈno.aχ/ as in Scottish Loch) is ordinal for eight as in story of χanuˈka preserved in Roman Catholic Bibles’ First and Second Maccabees (but NOT canonical in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible) and the eight beatitudes, the Christian-mystagogical beatific-vision fulfillment of contingent creation’s hebdomadiary cycle, Pope’s “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind ” our heavenly reward… the harvested fruit of Christ’s Pascal seed

  • oregon nurse

    This is Hollywood, don’t expect anything but what they have been doing for years which is to destroy Christian morals. They are not going to do Scripture correctly. In fact, I believe this is their New Evangelization and they are out to further corrupt belief. They will do exactly what we see atheists and progressives do on blogs every day – take parts of the Bible and twist it’s meaning.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    The movie sounds asinine. I have no interest in seeing it.

  • JoFro

    You seem to be the only Catholic reviewer of this film that hasn’t been singing its praises – I watched the film – yes ,it was a theological mess, quite frankly.

    I have no problems with a director reinterpreting a story but this was just embarrassing!

    • SisterCynthia

      Matt Walsh isn’t too happy with it, either, after seeing it, and he goes ahead and lays out all the plot points/spoilers “so you won’t be tempted to spend your money to go see what’s in this mess.” :-/

    • FW Ken

      Babara Nicolosi trashed it, more for the movie making than the story. It’s been fun to read the wide ranging opinions all over the map. For myself, it will be on streaming soon enough, or maybe Redbox.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      What? That’s not true. I’ve seen many bad reviews by Catholics, espeically this one:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/churchofthemasses/2014/03/the-utter-embarrassing-mess-of-noah-and-why-everybody-is-lying-about-it/

  • pagansister

    Think I’ll save my bucks. In a few years I can see it on TV for nothing. And if the movie Noah wouldn’t kill his granddaughters, I’ll admire him for that, even though he is disobeying his orders from above.

    • Rob B.

      As I understand it from other reviewers, the point of the scene is that God *doesn’t* want that…

  • http://bornacatholic.blogspot.com/ Bornacatholic

    About the putative Nephilim:

    Challoner notes:

    The sons of God.
    The descendants of Seth and Enos are here called Sons
    of God,
    from their religion and piety: whereas the ungodly race of Cain, who
    by their carnal affections lay grovelling upon the earth, are called
    the children of men. The unhappy consequence of the former marrying
    with the latter, ought to be a warning to Christians to be very
    circumspect in their marriages; and not to suffer themselves to be
    determined in choice by their carnal passion, to the prejudice of
    virtue or religion. (Challoner) — See St. Chrysostom, hom. 22, &c.
    Some copies of the Septuagint having the angels of God,induced some of the ancients to suppose, that these spiritual beings(to whom, by another mistake, they attributed a sort of aeria bodies) had commerce with women, as the pagans derived their heroes from a mortal and a god. But this notion, which is borrowed from the book of Henoch, is quite exploded. (Calmet) — The distinction of the true Church from the synagogue of satan, here established, has been ever since retained, as heretics are still distinguished from
    Catholics. (Worthington) (St. Augustine)

    Saint Homas Aquinas: Reply
    to Objection 6:
    As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xv): “Many persons affirm that
    they have had the experience, or have heard from such as have
    experienced it, that the Satyrs and Fauns, whom the common folk call
    incubi, have often presented themselves before women, and have sought
    and procured intercourse with them. Hence it is folly to deny it. But
    God’s holy angels could not fall in such fashion before the deluge.
    Hence by the sons of God are to be understood the sons of Seth, who
    were good; while by the daughters of men the Scripture designates
    those who sprang from the race of Cain. Nor is it to be wondered at
    that giants should be born of them; for they were not all giants,
    albeit there were many more before than after the deluge.” Still
    if some are occasionally begotten from demons, it is not from the
    seed of such demons, nor from their assumed bodies, but from the seed
    of men taken for the purpose; as when the demon assumes first the
    form of a woman, and afterwards of a man; just as they take the seed
    of other things for other generating purposes, as Augustine says (De
    Trin. iii), so that the person born is not the child of a demon, but
    of a man.

  • FW Ken

    An interesting discussion of the gnostic underpinnings of Noah.

    http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil?utm_source=StandFirm&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=link

    The money quote;

    If a serpent skin wrapped around the arm of a godly Bible character doesn’t set off any alarms… I don’t know what to say.

    Sabotage got my money tonight ($5 night at the Rave). I wanted to see Captain America, but that will have to wait for next week, I suppose.


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