As far as the movie goes, it largely, paints a pretty good picture of the wickedness of humankind that is in the world at the time. For many have argued against the movie saying it brings a lot of extra things into the story, however, I would argue that much of what it brings in is in really merely poetic licence to enhance the story and the comparisons that exist in the story. Let’s unpack briefly some areas that may lead to some distrusting this account of the Noah story:
#1 Rock people (Watchers)
The bible does indeed talk about that part of the wickedness on the earth was due to the Nephilites (fallen angels) on the earth that (Gen. 6:1-4), ok so some poetic licence used here to portray these fallen angels as siding with Cain when he was outcast
#2 Cain siding with the Watchers
The bible makes no reference to what Cain did after he was outcast into the desert, so is this version of the story actually possible? And maybe it gives the reason for the total wickedness that was on the earth. Ok some may feel too much poetic licence was taken, with the way these were portrayed, however it doesn’t in reality distract from the story of Noah and God’s plan to redeem humanity and thus portrays, reasonably well, the absolute evil that existed upon the earth!
#3 God speaking to Noah
Many films portray God speaking with a beam of light and an audible voice, however is this reality for most people and why should biblical times be any different to the way God speaks today? For some, maybe, disappointed that God didn’t speak in a nice booming american accent to Noah, but instead through dreams, visions and circumstances leading Noah to build the ark. So one could say that this kept the film in the realms of reality, rather than a nice and fluffy portrayal of faith and how God speaks! And lets face it, if the film stuck to the biblical account, Noah would not have spoken at all, and perhaps wouldn’t have made much of a movie!
#4 The portrayal of building the Ark
How did Noah build the Ark? Did he have support from some ‘fallen angels’ or Watchers as the film portrayed them, or Nephulim or did Noah build the Ark totally on his own. We don’t really know, all we know is that in a very particular way Noah built the Ark with his family. The film portrays these giant rock people helping. Perhaps a little far-fetch or is it? It certainly made an interesting take on the story, where in the end these Watchers were restored to heaven for helping.
#5 The flood sequence
We get a good picture here of the wickedness and refusal of humanity to repent or change. The bible talks about how the waters came from below and above and we see this also in the film too. Which kind of makes sense as to the swiftness of the waters rising and covering the earth giving no chance for those outside of the ark to really find safety perhaps? Having said that, it could also be over the course of 40 days people still hanging on to land before the earth was totally covered perhaps? On the flood sequence demonstrated, the serious destruction of everything living because of sin.
#6 Real emotion between Ham, Shem & Noah
Another concern that some may have is how the movie portrayed Ham. Remember he was just a lad with feelings and wondered how he would populate the earth without a wife. A side story in the film Ham goes out and finds a girl destined to die, he tries to rescue her, only to see her trampled on by Cain’s army as they escapes rescued by Noah. He blames Noah. During the rest of the movie Ham’s real emotion is portrayed, as we said before the biblical account doesn’t say much of the interaction between Noah, Shem, Ham and any wives, though how the movie portrays this is pretty real – not in the land of sweetness and light that so many would probably prefer for a family on an Ark for 40 days and nights!
#7 Cain on the Ark
Perhaps one part of the movie that could be seen as poetic licence gone to far is that of Cain (or a son of Cain) managing to get onto the Ark during the storm and trying to corrupt Ham, as well as killing some of the animals to eat. This is probably one area of the film which is cannot be justified biblically in any way. Having said that it made an interesting issue of the need to totally get rid of corruption that tries to board our lives and disrupt God’s plan!
#8 Creation sequence
Watch out for a beautiful sequence during the Ark when Noah tells the story of creation to his family and of God’s original purpose for the earth.
#9 Noah’s dilemma
Noah is portrayed as very focused on the call that God has given him. Perhaps as a task orientated person at the cost of relationship. During the time on the Ark Noah is faced with seeing his task as removing humankind from the earth totally and sees no reason God should save even his own family, he seems to see the animals he saved as the main purpose for the Ark, rather than his own family to see the earth replenished again. In the end we see a good understanding of mercy triumphant over judgement.
#10 Gnostism world view in the movie
For sure as some commentators have argued there is an element of a Gnostic world view emanating through the movie, particularly when it relates to God’s original design of Adam & Eve. However, it’s just a film and on no account has there been any way reference to evangelical christianity. Instead as with many films of this nature, this world view I believe has been used as a creative literary device to best explain the original nature of God’s intention towards human kind and how the enemy has spoilt that original design. If we just merely see this gnostic worldview illustration more of a portrayal visually, purely for creativity purposes and visual effects rather than out and out attempt to distort the things of God’s original design. For example, let’s face it, if some Christians have there way and stuck totally to the bible we’d probably end up with a low key, unstunning effects rubbish movie!
Whatever your thoughts regarding this feature length movie it is definitely worth watching. On the whole it gives a good portrayal of the serious state that man had got into in their rebellion against their creator. Though, for some the poetic/creative licence of reading between the lines has perhaps taken in the film, may be too much for some, however if one can look past that you will see the seriousness of where humankind had got in their sin. Though the film portrays the strong influence of the so called ‘Superhumans’ (which I think they could have made more off this than they did rather than just as Watchers’) you get a good understanding of why the world is in such a mess. At the end of the movie, I can see a good modern day sequence following the film (I’m sure someone will make if not already) showing how today humankind is in the same mess when we leave God out of the equation, the only difference today is we have Jesus, heaven’s mediator to forgive sin and give us the power through the Holy Spirit to live once again for creator God. So I encourage you, treat this film as a hollywood movie, not a biblical epic, though with biblical themes and so look past the poetic/creative licence used but do if you’ve not seen the film watch it for yourself!!!
Allow this movie to provoke discussion, be encouraged to talk about the questions raise and together in your small groups discover what the Bible really says!
Some discussion questions:
- How is the wickedness of Noah’s day the same or different to present day? Does sin still exist in the world today – individually, nations?
- What did you see as God’s redemptive purpose (to save) in the film?
- Discuss how you would imagine life on the Ark if you were producing this movie?
- Is the way God speaks to Noah in this movie a good portrayal or not? How does God speak today to His people?
- Have we lost today a healthy respect for Creator God, what difference would it make if we start respecting the things of God again?
- Why do you think God is silent in the movie when Noah was looking for answers?
- What are some of the dangers of a Gnostic world view? (see 1 John)
- Do nations, individuals need to repent (change total behaviour) today? In what ways? How do you need to change today?
Some biblical aspects from Genesis relating to the article above:
Backdrop and why God destroyed every living thing except Noah and the animals on the ark:
Then the people began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them. The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. Then the lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.” In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times. (Genesis 6:1-4 NLT)
The extent of human wickedness—
The lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7 NLT)
The flood part…
When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. (Genesis 7:11 NLT)
After the flood part:
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped. After another forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the boat and released a raven. The bird flew back and forth until the floodwaters on the earth had dried up. But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground. So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside. After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone. He waited another seven days and then released the dove again. This time it did not come back. Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Then Noah built an altar to the lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. (Genesis 8:1, 2, 6, 7, 9-13, 15, 16, 20, 21 NLT)]
Updated, 18/4/14 – Podcast added from Thursday night show on Spirit Radio: