Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Review of Noah directed by Darren Aronofsky

         The 2014 movie, Noah, has been the subject of controversy among many conservative Christian groups. I tried to limit my readings of reviews (on both sides) and basically only saw a few things linked on Facebook and heard some comments from Father Jonathan Morris on Fox and Friends. I was not expecting a great Christian epic or a true rendition of the Genesis account of Noah. This was probably a good thing. I wanted to see why I was hearing the many negative rumblings of the movie. I realized that the director, Darren Aronofsky, was raised in the Jewish tradition. I fully expected that the writer had taken liberty in the telling of the story. I imagined that I would also enjoy a good performance from Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins.

         First, do not go to this movie if you are hoping to see the narrative of Noah as told in Genesis. You will be disappointed. Actually, this movie has little to do with the Genesis account of the flood story. I would put this movie in the genre of fantasy. Neither the storyline nor the characters bear much resemblance to the Jewish/Christian version. Instead, Aronofsky’s movie has been cast as another one of the flood accounts that is incorporated into more than 500 civilizations’ myths or legends of it. In these accounts there are some major components that appear in most of them: 1) warning of pending storm, 2) a boat is built, 3) animals and vegetation are stored, 4) a family is spared, and 5) birds are sent out to find dry land.[1]

         Aronofsky’s Noah contains those elements. The scripture contains those elements; however, even the components in the movie are altered from the Biblical account. I need to point out that Aronofsky asserted in an interview with Christianity Today that he told this story based on the midrash tradition, in which Jewish teachers create stories meant to explain the deeper truths of the Tanakh.[2]

         Aronofsky’s version begins with Lamech, Noah’s father, being killed while Noah was a boy. By my calculations using the ages and years provided in Genesis 5, this was not the case. Genesis 5 asserted that Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born. He lived 595 years after Noah’s birth. Noah became a father when he was 500 years old to Shem, Ham and Japheth. Noah’s sons would have known their grandfather for ninety-five years. Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah lived 6 years longer than Lamech.  In Genesis 7, it is recorded that the floods came when Noah was 600 years old. His father would have been dead only 5 years and his grandfather was still living. According to Genesis, Methuselah died the same year as the flood. We do not know how he died – whether in the flood itself or before the flood. Aronofsky had a scene where Methuselah died in the flood. This could have happened. This leads to another question: was Methuselah an unbeliever or was he a martyr?

         Genesis affirmed that God gave Noah detailed instructions as to what was going to happen to the world, how to built the ark and the numbers of living creatures that would be saved on the ark. Aronofsky’s account has Noah greatly confused and needing to find his grandfather to seek his advice.

         In Aronofsky’s account Noah decided that man would die out with his family. Supposedly, a girl that Noah rescued and raised as his daughter was barren. She was to be Shem’s wife. Noah did not allow his other sons to have wives. They were not on board the ark during the flood. This created a conflict between Ham and Noah. Ham became aware of an intruder on the ark (the man in the movie who had killed Noah’s father when Noah was a lad) and he nursed him and allowed him to live.

         The barren wife becomes pregnant and gives birth to twin girls; therefore, Noah decided that he needed to kill them in order to obey God. However, at the last moment he spared his granddaughters because “love wins out.” There is no mention of Shem having twin daughters while aboard the ark in the Genesis account.

         Finally, one the oddest parts of Aronofsky’s movie were these giant stone monsters with lights shining forth from their eyes. According to the rock beasts, they were the fallen angels who (unselfishly) came to help Adam and Eve after they were evicted from the Garden of Eden. Because these fallen angels had compassion on Adam, God punished them and covered them with rock. These creatures were shown throughout the movie as helping Noah and his family. They were also portrayed as the major labor force for the ark. Right before the flood, they were shown as being repentant and were freed from their rock prison. Where each was emancipated a powerful light left the earth. Everywhere they had stood – the floodwaters from below the earth were released.

         I have no problem looking at this movie as fantasy. My complaint with Aronofsky is that he used the name Noah and then tried to incorporate sections of the Bible into this story. Clearly, this movie does not portray the biblical Noah. However, that is not my issue. This story comes across as fantasy and myth while pretending to tell a Jewish and Christian story. The ridiculous nature of the events in this movie will serve to alienate non-believers who see the movie. My fear is that Aronofsky has helped to promote a world that was once ruled by superstition but that Noah’s sense of love and morality over-ruled God’s design to kill out mankind. Noah is cleverly designed, New Age propaganda that promotes man’s version of righteousness as superior to God’s, thus allowing mankind to continue after the flood.

            [1] “Flood Legends from Around the World,” NW Creation Network: Defending Biblical History, April 13, 2014, accessed April 13, 2014,
            [2] Peter T. Chattaway, “Darren Aronofsky Talks to CT About 'Noah'”, CT: Christianity Today (March 25 2014): 1, accessed April 13, 2014,

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