“Cynics are simply thwarted romantics.” -William Goldman
“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.” -Kurt Vonnegut
Let me begin this post with an observation: Often times, these days, when the church makes an outcry against something in the media, the exact opposite of what’s intended seems to happen. Remember The Shack? Fundamentalist and hyper-conservative Christians railed against it–and helped make it a best-seller. It wasn’t for the book’s literary quality. Come on! Have you seen anything else from that author?
By the way, I liked The Shack. What’s more, I bet God liked The Shack, too. Something we can argue about another day. My point, though, is that I probably wouldn’t have read it at all if I hadn’t seen such a stink put up in the name of God.
So the argument against Noah ranged from “deviated from the Biblical record” to “it’s outright evil, teaching evolution and mocking God.”
Let’s be honest. If you’re going to make a movie about Noah, you’re going to have to deviate from the Biblical account. Try me on this: You can read every word about Noah, the ark and the flood that is in your Bible in about fifteen minutes. That’ll make for a pretty short movie. So if you were expecting a Biblical verse-by-verse feature film on Noah, admit that it would make a better informercial.
Next, I want to commend my Christian friends who are so quick to pass judgment before they’ve actually seen the film. I heard someone say that the film promotes evolution and then set their heart to spamming the social media wires with that assertion. Guess what! I saw the film. Not in there. Congratulations. When you do this, you make people of faith look ridiculous, and make all of our social commentary seem uninformed and irrelevant to the rest of the world.
Finally, let me speak to the film. It was … wait for it … a movie. The writers and director, the actors and the crew, endeavored to make an epic film. Time will tell if they’ve succeeded. I hate to be the bearers of bad news to my Christian friends, but it wasn’t aimed at telling the Biblical story of Noah. As previously mentioned, that would be a pretty boring tale by Hollywood epic movie standards based on the brevity of the historical record. They were aimed at creating a story around the Biblical narrative of Noah, using all the tools of their trade.
Can I draw a comparison for you? I’ll stick close in theme–another nautical tale: Titanic. Did you see it? (Of course not, there was nudity in it, a middle-finger gesture, and at least one use of the ‘F’ word!) Since you didn’t see it, let me give you a summary. It turned out to be one of the biggest grossing films of all time. Probably considered epic. It was a story built around the real maritime disaster in 1912, the sinking of RMS Titanic in the northern Atlantic Ocean.
Now, the writers and director of Titanic did their best to include a lot of historical fact. In fact, they dove on the wreck several times to get more authenticity into their film. But they also had to include a lot of fiction–a lot of story telling–in their movie. This is a spoiler for any who haven’t seen it. Avert your eyes if you want to. Rose and Jack–weren’t real people. They weren’t on the Titanic. They weren’t … anywhere. Listen to me: the majority of the story lines that unfolded once the ship was underway were total fiction. Egads!
Historical fiction. I’ve written a historical novel myself. It takes research. And it takes creativity. If you’ve done it well, the narrative really becomes an entertaining tale set in a historical setting. That is my conclusion with Noah. Historical fiction.
Now, let me give you a review of Noah: I didn’t really like the film as much as I’d hoped I would. Movies are expensive. I pay $10 and I want to be impressed. And I wasn’t. It was just okay. A couple of the actors did a good job. I thought Tubal-cain was great! And Hermione … or … uh, Ila was too. As far as angels turned to rock, and only one of Noah’s sons having a wife with him on the ark, Tubal-cain sneaking onboard, and even Ila herself–those and other details are pure fiction. But it’s okay. This movie wasn’t intended to be documentary.
But here’s the best part, and why I think Christians SHOULD see the movie: my phone, email and social media accounts have been abuzz about this film, nonstop, with people who saw it wondering about this and that. I’ve turned to the Biblical account with several people in the aftermath of the movie. Folks, things that offer us chances to talk about our faith, or the word, or God–they’re priceless in my world. So thank you Hollywood. Your so-so attempt at an epic film has given me some meaningful conversation fodder on the topic of God. I love it!