One of the most popular stories from the Bible has made its way to the “silver screen” this year. Hollywood has taken the epic tale of Noah’s Ark from Genesis 6-9 and created a major motion picture, complete with top-name actors like Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Emma Watson. While I knew the movie was going to take some artistic liberties, I wasn’t sure how far it would go.
While the overall story is still the same, the truth is that the Bible does leave many holes unfilled. So, in order to create a two-hour movie, they needed to fill in some gaps. Similarly, there are some things that are a bit unclear, due to the different world/culture in which they lived compared to the world today. So, I get why they felt the need to embellish the story here and there, adding to the plot to make it more “movie worthy.”
What I don’t yet understand, though, is the things they outright changed from the Bible. Sure, they all seemed to make sense and go together to tell the story they set out to tell, but I just don’t understand why they would tell that story. The biggest example of this is that only Shem took his wife on the ark with him. The others did not have wives in the movie. Genesis 7:7 and 7:13 seem to clearly state that the wives of each son joined them on the ark:
“And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. […] On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.” (NIV)
Why would they change it? If you watch the movie, it makes sense. The writers obviously had another story to tell that involved Noah’s internal struggle and his assumption that God was not necessarily going to repopulate the world with his family. I could also go on and on about the rock-covered “Watchers,” which just made the film seem like a fairy tale or something out of Narnia or Middle Earth.
What I did like, however, is the way the movie-makers delve into Noah’s psyche. I never really thought much about it before, but I am sure he went through a lot as he struggled with God’s decision to wipe out the entire earth. What would it have been like to know that so much death was just outside the walls of your ark? It must have been an incredibly difficult time to go through, which probably explains why he turned to the vineyard after they finally got back to dry land. (Right decision? Probably not, but I now understand it a bit more.)
Similarly, I think the movie does a good job at exploring what life could have been like for them at that time. They could have very well felt like God was not present or hearing their prayers. If that was the case, and I think it was, they would have felt like it was up to them to make decisions on their own. They did not yet have the covenant of Abraham, the prophetic words of Isaiah, or the sacrifice of Jesus. They probably felt alone, even during the time when they were being saved in the ark. I’m sure the whole process was very stressful. And while Noah’s family was righteous, they were not perfect, so they probably had their doubts along the way.
Overall, the movie was well made, and the actors did a really good job! Sure, it kind of felt like, in the words of one of my friends, “a ‘mash-up’ of The Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and Passion of the Christ,” but I do think it is worth seeing. Does that viewing have to be in a theater? Not necessarily. I don’t think you need to throw $10+ at a ticket, but maybe a $1.50 Redbox rental would be okay.
The movie was far from perfect, and they used their artistic license quite a bit. I did some reading ahead of time, so I knew a bit of what to expect, which I think helped me prepare for it. If I hadn’t known anything, I may have been very disappointed that they didn’t stick closer to the Biblical narrative. Still, I believe the biggest benefit of a movie like this is that it can get people talking about the Bible more. Hopefully, it will get them into the Bible, though, instead of just believing everything they see on the screen. To that end, I will keep praying!