NOAH—good film for post-movie discussion


My head is whirling with all the controversy surrounding director Darren Aronofsky’s  NOAH.  There are two rather distinct piles of articles about the movie, pro and con; or, as the movie What About Bob would say, “there’s the people who like Neil Diamond and the people who don’t.”

NOAH’s director/screenwriter has, pun intended, brought out the beast in pastors and their flocks.  Even the atheists want some floor time with this one.  Try as you will, a two-hour movie just can’t be created from a few pages of the BIBLE.

Maybe the discussion should be whether religious films should just be banned altogether.  Let’s just get this over with right now.  After all, weeks ago SON OF GOD was on the chopping block.  And who could ever forget reading hateful accounts of PASSION OF THE CHRIST director, Mel Gibson.  And, if that wasn’t enough, his father—yes, his father for Pete’s sake was dragged into the slugfest.

“Literal fundamentalists will blow a gasket,” my friend Michelle Rifenberg offered, “but anyone who understands the role of allegory in scripture shouldn’t hate it.  It’s a good film for post movie discussion over wine.”

I love all of it—especially Michelle’s idea for discussion.

Enter the Rock People.  Noah (Russell Crowe) needs help to build the arc in time for the anticipated rain.  Rock People help him build and protect him from the bad guys.  Aronofsky may have overstepped here for some critics; but I liked the ginormous fallen angel creatures.  What a creative way to show both their punishment and presence in the world before the flood.

“The rock people that sent one columnist over the cliff,” Michelle believes, “is an earthen way to represent how the inherent goodness that comes from being made in the image and likeness of God becomes hardened and incased in worldliness because of the fall. The serpent and the picked apple appear repeatedly on the screen. In fact one of the rock people flat out explains the metaphor. “

imagesNoah has really gone out on a limb to build an arc on barren land.  His wife (Jennifer Connelly) assists unquestioning until he raises a knife to their newborn granddaughters. No spoiler here—just to say that scene was reminiscent of Old Testament Abraham with his son on the altar.

Special effects used to deliver the animals to the arc are remarkable.  (No live animals in the film.)  As an action, suspense movie, it was nothing short of extraordinary.

Characters in the film acknowledge they are made in the image of their Creator.  The good guys want to please and the bad guys want to be the Creator’s equal.  Therein lies the basis of war—then and now.

SON OF GOD–a resurrected story

The Bible

Imagine waking up in the morning with the thought of producing/directing a successful biblical film.  That is the story with reality TV producer Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey & the newly released Son of God.

The challenge rests not just with film critics but with Christians as well.  Rotten Tomatoes critics, for example gave the picture a 25% rating while its audience rated it 82%.  The discrepancy according to the critics: “The faithful may find their spirits raised, but on purely cinematic terms, Son of God is too dull and heavy-handed to spark much fervor.”

Then we have Christians who wanted something more, or, as Christianity Today described: images“..watching Son of God was not a dreadful experience, but it wasn’t a particularly inspirational or entertaining one, either.”

REALLY?  My take on this is sometimes we forget that today millions of lapsed Christians and non-believers out there have no clue what believers are talking about.  They have either missed the point in Sunday school or are hearing it for the first time.  As viewers, this film is very possibly totally new information presented in cinematic storytelling—and music by Hans Zimmer!!  Enjoy the film.  It’s a movie!  Leave the rest to the beholder.

How timely to have the story of Jesus at the theaters as liturgical calendars look to the beginning of Lent, and preparation for the celebration of Easter—the point of the story.

Could Steven Spielberg given Son of God audiences a deeper, more inspiring film? Probably.  But, would he?