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The Noah Movie

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April 2, 2014 Tags: Biblical Interpretation, Worship & Arts

Today's entry was written by Jim Stump. You can read more about what we believe here.

The Noah Movie
BioLogos goes to the movies

Our mission at BioLogos is to “invite the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.” That doesn’t have a lot to do with analyzing Hollywood movies. We are certainly not professional movie critics. But we’ve received a lot of requests in the last week for our take on Darren Aronofsky’s new Noah movie. So on Friday the Grand Rapids staff decided that we deserved an afternoon away from the office and went to the movies.

Someone who is looking for a close rendering of the Genesis text will be disappointed, because that’s not what Aronofsky has done (though even if he had done that, I suspect most people would be disappointed with it as a movie, because there isn’t much dialogue in the Genesis account). He drew generously from extra-biblical traditions, most notably with his adaptation of the Book of Enoch’s “Watchers,” who were fallen angels that looked and acted a lot like transformers as they helped Noah build the ark and keep away the bad guys. In a sense, though, they made the story seem less like a fairytale and more realistic, as it is difficult to see how Noah could have done all that by himself. Russell Crowe as Noah was no superhero. He was very human—perhaps too human for those who’d prefer he remain in the flannel graph world of our Sunday School stories. He had some dreams from (presumably) God, but the message wasn’t entirely clear. This wasn’t a Noah who had a direct line to the heavens; he was more like us.

Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah the cave-dwelling (and berry-craving) wizard helped with interpreting the dream message, but it seems that Noah still got some things wrong. Was the point of the ark just to save the animals and let all the humans (including his own family) die? Noah’s wife was played by the same actress who played Russell Crowe’s wife in A Beautiful Mind, and there was a bit of inter-movie déjà vu when she started looking at him like he was crazy!

All in all, the movie had a very mythological feel to it. There was a magic snakeskin handed down from generation to generation through which the birthright was passed on. Methuselah performed some mysterious fertility rite on Shem’s wife-to-be, Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger, whom I kept expecting to utter some Latin charm... [spoiler - mouseover to view]). And we saw the importance of stories as explanations—my favorite part of the whole movie was when Noah retold the Genesis creation accounts to his sons, and we saw the evolutionary creation of the world up to some mysterious Adam and Eve figures. As mythology, I thought it would have been a nice touch if in the scene when the camera zoomed way out, instead of seeing a globe, we would have seen a picture of the earth in its ancient cosmological setting.

Anyway, remember we’re not movie critics. But we do have some other resources on the Noah of Genesis to point you to:


Jim Stump has served as the Content Manager at BioLogos since August 2013. As such he oversees the development of new content and curates the existing content. Jim's PhD is in philosophy from Boston University where he wrote a dissertation on the history and philosophy of science. He is the author (with Chad Meister) of Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction (Routledge, 2010) and the editor (with Alan Padgett) of the Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Jim is a frequent speaker at churches and other groups on topics at the intersection of science and Christianity.


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Gregory - #84992

April 2nd 2014

“my favorite part of the whole movie was when Noah retold the Genesis creation accounts to his sons, and we saw the evolutionary creation of the world up to some mysterious Adam and Eve figures”

Yes, that was one of my favourite scenes in the film too. It will likely be pondered about visually for some time. I look forward to the clip being uploaded for general viewing.

(One of the Hollywood alternatives to it is from Spike Jonze’s film Adaptation - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTvYccMDvMU)

“the movie had a very mythological feel to it.”

Yes. It caused more reflection on the Biblical story of Noah and the arc. My co-viewer was more interested in Genesis because of the film.

Note that Jennifer Connelly also played the role of Charles Darwin’s wife Emma in the film “Creation” (2009), not just Crowe’s wife in “A Beautiful Mind.” (But I definitely don’t think she should win awards for her performance - had to close my eyes during her ‘passion’.)

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/noah-religious-beliefs

Worth seeing in the end and fuel for conversation and exploration.


Merv - #84995

April 2nd 2014

Nice pose!  I had to figure out who the serious bearded man was with your staff.  Did Noah join Biologos?  He could be handy to have around—get him to blog a bit here.  I’d like his take on all our theologizing about the flood.


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