Saturday, March 29, 2014


What can I say about Noah?  On the surface, it is a decent sci-fi/action/fantasy film, with rock monsters (Galaxy Quest came to mind), glowing rocks that can be loaded into a bazooka (rock launcher? - pun intended) or used as hand-grenades, a crazy shaman, magic (dare I say witchcraft?), the devil, and world-wide destruction worthy of Roland Emmerich.  "The deuce!" you say.  Oh, yes.  If you were expecting a faithful retelling of the story of Noah and the flood from the Bible, you're in for a nasty surprise.  If you can cast reality and religion aside, it does have some redeeming qualities.

Allow me to explain.  Maybe not the bazooka, which must have appeared via a time warp or something.  
  • The crazy shaman.  He was Noah's grandfather, Methuselah (), who gave Noah () a potion that produced a vision of more of the Creator's message about the flood.  Later in the film, he had a hand in making Ila () un-barren.  All the while, he was craving berries (I pictured 's quest for Twinkies in Zombiland.)  
  • Magic.  Noah's wife, Naameh () may not have been a witch, but she had knowledge of healing that would probably have gotten her burned at the stake in Salem.  There was also some kind of incense that was used to put the all the animals to sleep after they arrived on the ark.
  • The devil.  There were several flashes of a huge snake shedding its skin and there was some kind of coming of age ceremony involving a snake skin that had been handed down in the family.  Ultimately Satan made his appearance as a human who succeeded in penetrating the defenses of the Ark and went about tempting Ham ().  I am assuming away, but I think it's pretty obvious.
  • World destruction.  Sure, there was a flood, preceded as it began, by a great battle, with the rock monsters doing most of the fighting for Noah's team; and  Russell Crowe did get to display some of his gladiatorial skills.  The cameras zoomed out to provide a shot of the earth covered with hurricanes, while on earth the water also rose from within the angry planet. 
  • The rock monsters.  I had to save them for last.  They were the "watchers" who took care of the humans after Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden and Cain killed Abel, at least until the humans, once they built great civilizations, killed most of the watchers.  As best I could understand, they were fallen angels who were bound to the earth (hence covered in rock).  I had a little trouble following the explanation.  The few remaining watchers allied themselves with Noah.
As I said earlier, there were a couple of redeeming qualities, or lessons to be learned.  First of all, the humans, after the garden, succeeded in building great civilizations, but raped and pillaged the earth in doing so.  Noah's world was barren.  Natural resources were gone.  People fought for food and water.  Girls were stolen and sold at auction in return for food.  It was a pretty miserable place.  Having the earth itself take part in creating the flood added to a heavy-handed lesson about what we are doing to the earth and to ourselves today.

A second lesson wasn't so overt.  Noah had dreams or visions that were messages from the Creator about what was to come.  He knew he had to build the ark to save all the creatures that would ride out the flood.  He was sure, though, that this meant that humans should not survive, except to shepherd their passengers into the new world.  He was sure that, since Ila was barren, there would be no more children and that Shem (), Ham, and Japheth () would be the last of his line.  When Ila became pregnant, Noah was sure that if it was a girl, he had to kill her right away.  After all it was God's will that humans be wiped from the face of the earth.  Not even Naameh could talk any sense into him.  I'm not giving anything away when I say that, at the last minute, he couldn't do it.  It gives one cause to ponder the conviction of people throughout history and across religions as to what they believe is God's will.  Too many of them try and have tried to impose or enforce that belief on others, often with disastrous results.

Let me sum up.  Noah was certainly not biblically accurate - far from it.  Was some of the film ridiculous?  Yes.  Will some people take offense?  Yes.  Was it worth seeing?  Yes.  I, for one, am glad I saw it and glad for the inaccuracies.  It made me curious enough to want to re-read the flood story, as well as similar stories from other cultures (like the Gilgamesh Epic), just in case they might have been incorporated into the film.  Unlikely, but I'm curious.  The environmental lesson was heavy-handed, but at the rate we are going, it has to be repeated over and over again.  The lesson on God's will remains open.  I'm afraid that there will always be people who think they have the inside scoop on God's will and that everyone else should believe their way.  Though inaccurate and at times almost ludicrous, Noah does end with a message of hope.  "All you need is love."