Noah and the flood of “Christian” movies

Sherry and I saw the movie “Noah” over the weekend. My quick review is that is entertaining and thought-provoking; it reminded me of how J.R.R. Tolkien would have handled Genesis. Someone described Noah as Lord of the Rings meets Braveheart, I think that’s fairly accurate. The writers do take seemingly unnecessary liberties with the story (i.e. two out of three of Noah’s sons didn’t have wives), and it is oppressively dark, but it was a great discussion starter and sent us scrambling for our Bibles to refresh our understanding of the story. That places Noah ahead of almost every “Christian” movie I’ve seen.

There has been a great deal of hand-wringing and speechifying around Noah, which I think is unfortunate. It is just a movie, it isn’t a new version of the Bible. Here is what I know to be true:

  • The biblical story of Noah has remained unchanged for thousands of years. It is readily available to anyone who wants to read the original. The Bible won’t be updated to reflect writer/director Darren Aronofsky’s version.
  • Every artist interprets the Bible through their own lens. Da Vinci set the Last Supper in 15th century Italy and moved all the disciples to the same side of the table. Michelangelo decided God should touch Adam’s finger rather than breath into his nostrils when he painted the Sistine Chapel. Mark Burnett thought it would be fun to bring Mary Magdalene along on the boat in his Son of God movie. Art is always about interpretation.
  • The story of the flood is one of the most difficult passages of the Bible. Sons of God having sex with the daughters of men, fitting thousands of animals onto a boat and then feeding them for over a year, people living to be hundreds of years old; these are not easy topics. Aronofsky gets a little credit for taking a swing at such a challenging story.
  • I get tired of being told I should see some movies because they are “Christian” and I shouldn’t see other movies because they are not. I prefer to see movies that are good rather than movies that are bad. Noah falls in the pretty good category, many “Christian” movies fall in the pretty bad category.
  • My main source of spiritual guidance is the Bible. I don’t go to movies for spiritual guidance. I think a movie like Noah is interesting because it gives one man’s interpretation of what a biblical story could be about, but its just that; one man’s interpretation. It doesn’t diminish nor build my faith. At best a movie is entertaining and thought-provoking, at worst it is boring and mind numbing.

So that’s my take on Noah, Son of God, God’s Not Dead, Heaven is for Real and Spiderman 2. They are each entertainment and should be judged on their own merits, not on how Christian they are. Those that look worth a couple of hours of my time I’ll see, those that look cheesy I’ll skip. Feel free to do the same.

And one more thing, shouldn’t Spiderman 2 be called Spiderman 2 2?


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8 Responses to “Noah and the flood of “Christian” movies”

  1. ted squires March 31, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    I love your review and agree.

  2. Bruce Huggins April 1, 2014 at 6:09 am #

    Geoff most of the time I agree with you, this time not so much. Why are we here? Who or whom are we to be separate from? What are we to do with our time here on earth? The bible is pretty specific. We are told to glorify God in all we do. We are told to “Go” and make disciples of men. This movie does neither. I get it, that this is “entertainment” and should be watched as such. Is there any difference when we watch a show that glorifies adultery? Or pornography? Or a show that distorts the God we worship an aspire to be like? When we corrupt our reason to be here or the stories of the book we are to gleam God’s will from we are conforming to the world around us. When we conform to the world around us we start to blend in with those that are lost. When we blend in with those that are lost we open the door for corruption and sin. When we open the door for corruption and sin we get closer to weeping and gnashing of teeth. Don’t get closer to weeping and gnashing of teeth! Sorry I had to “entertain” a bit. Thx for all you and your family do, Geoff, for the furtherment of His kingdom. Lord Bless!

    • Jeff April 1, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      I totally agree with Bruce. If you’re not going to be biblically correct then why base out of the Bible? The guy is an atheist And is doing his work for the devil. It is blasphemy plain and simple.

  3. Peter Dupre April 1, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    I agree with you. I found the liberties taken with Noah less offensive than the ones taken by Son of God. We know so little about Noah’s world. I thought that the director and screen writer did a great job with conveying what the fall was all about and pinning the condition of the world on mankind’s choice to rebel against God. It is one of the best representations of the nature of sin I’ve ever seen.

  4. Russell Hughes April 1, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Geoff, I agree with you. It is a movie based loosely on Biblical events. He’s an Atheist, trying to tell a story that he thinks is nothing more than a fairly tale.

    I have not seen the movie and will wait for it on video. Heck, the only movies I go to are Disney dragging my kids.

    Artistic acumen will always exist. And although it sounds as if he may have butchered some things…he is not a Believer. What does any Christian expect? Seriously.

    We could all pray that the director finds Christ. As for finding Biblical truth in any movie…puhleeeez. From a Biblical standard, I even like to prove the messages I hear from the pulpit. Shhh….don’t tell anyone, but I even liked the book The Da Vinci Code (and the movie too). But I ain’t forming a new religion around it either. Just entertainment.

    • Richard April 10, 2014 at 5:24 am #

      I’m sorry, but is never “just entertainment”. So you’ll go to a R rated movie just for entertainment? So you approve of a tv series like “modern Family” just for entertainment?
      Everything you’ll see, everything you speak of, everything you put into you, if you’re a true Christian, must be conformed to God.
      This movie is not. I fully agree with Bruce and Jeff: work from the devil is never “just entertainment”.

  5. Geoff Surratt April 1, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Thanks for your comments. I’m not really recommending that people see or don’t see the movie. My point is that its just a movie. Its not a slipperly slope, its not pornography or blasphemy, its just an adaptation of a Biblical story. Atheists, Jews, Mormans, Buddhists and even Christians have been making art based on biblical themes for centruies. Some are worth considering, others aren’t. I think Noah could lead to some fascinating discussion with people outside the Christian bublble around the balance between justice and mercy.

  6. Andy Newell April 12, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    I can’t comment on the movie specifically because I haven’t seen it. As a pastor, though, I’ve read many reviews of it. I agree with the author that many of the so called “Christian” movies are so cheesy that I’d rather watch a non-Christian movie that’s worth my two hours and $9.50. However, I’m concerned that I’m consistently reading phrases such as “it’s just entertainment” when it comes to this particular movie. The thing that separates this movie from others is that it’s obviously and overtly based on a Biblical story – which Bible believing Christians hold sacred. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon believing viewers to expect as much accuracy as possible. To say “it’s just entertainment” is to excuse the defamation of our sacred text when obvious contradictions are allowed. My concern is that movies like Noah don’t drive non-Christians to the Biblical story, but warp their understanding of the Biblical account. After all, which is more powerful to the modern media consumer: a two hour movie or a four thousand year old text? This movie may be a great evangelistic tool if believers will see it with their non-Christian friends and point them to the truth afterward, but please don’t excuse it as “just entertainment.” And while we’re on the topic, let’s not excuse the “Christian” movies from the same standards just because they’re produced by those who agree with us theologically.