Aronofsky + Bible = Cautious Excitement
Darren Aronofsky has undertaken a very difficult task in producing a film based on the Biblical account of Noah, his family, and the global flood that wiped out the entire living world. That last sentence alone contains enough “hot-button” words to send every studio exec from New York to L.A. running for the hills, taking their money (i.e. the film’s budget) with them. What Hollywood studio would voluntarily take on a Bible story? Well, probably quite a few more than you would think as it’s been proven that the “faith market” is a financially viable corner in an otherwise secular movie culture. The Bible’s not the problem for the studio heads; it’s certain stories in the Bible that are the problem. Specifically, wherever there’s a whiff of Old Testament there is always a bit of trepidation as it is undoubtedly the more controversial of the two “testaments.” Add to that the controversy that surrounds the whole “global flood event” that the entire story of Noah and his family is founded upon, which itself opens the creation/evolution debate due to the Creationist view of the flood’s impact on our current world (and on the methods which date our current world). Additionally, though nearly every ancient culture contains records of an ancient flood, the Bible is the only book which attributes it to the God of the Old Testament. And, finally, there’s the whole Christian message which becomes obvious upon the slightest inspection (let alone the direct parallel revealed by Jesus in the book of Matthew) . That last part may not seem as apparent until one realizes exactly how Jesus draws the final parallel to Himself.
[Mat 24:37-39 NASB] 37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Basically, just as people died physically because they didn’t believe then, they will die spiritually because they do not believe now. In case you didn’t notice, it’s not popular to talk about eternal condemnation, hell, damnation, punishment, or sin of any kind these days.
So, as I said, Aronofsky has taken on quite the task here. However, I think it would be a mistake to think that this will be a word for word dramatization of the story presented in Genesis and preserved in the history and canon of Christianity. This will worry belivers and probably relieve the “anti-religious,” but I guess this post is for the believer as there is no significant word of warning I can give those who don’t even really believe the original, Biblical telling of the story is true
But, to my brothers and sisters in Christ, let me give you a fair heads-up about, “Noah,” in the following points:
1. Darren Aronofsky is not a Christian or a practicing Jew. Though Darren is Jewish by blood, he has said in several interviews that he is an agnostic (i.e.from his perspective, there may or may not be a God). So, to expect him to treat the material with the same level of reverence as we do would be a mistake. Darren has no reason to make great strains to stay faithful to the Biblical text. And, if you know anything about Aronofsky as a director, one things become very clear: he will not care what we think of, “Noah.”
Aronofsky is known for being nearly unmovable on his principles. He picks hills and dies on them no matter the cost and it’s what makes him an incredibly good director and writer.
2. There are several accounts of a global flood outside of the Bible. Nearly every ancient culture accounts for this event and many tell the story in a very similar way to the Bible but with clear distinctions (namely, a lack of the presence or power of, “Yahweh”) .
There have been a couple of reviews of the original screenplay around the web, and while I’d rather not link you to them as I think they may do more harm than good to our objective perspective on the film, they have been anything but encouraging by way of reinforcing any hopes that this film would remain true to even some of the core elements of the story of Noah. This, on top of some reference to current, “global-warming,” political themes, evidently distract and steer the direction of Aronofsky’s story
3. There will probably be things depicted visually that we would leave to simple text. This includes some of the more wicked things Noah does as well as some of the controversial activity surrounding the Nephilim of Genesis 6 (both of which are sexual in nature), not to mention a portion that may depict Adam and Eve without attempting to cover anyone up. And, lest you think this director is one to approach such things “tastefully,” let me assure you…..he is not. So, don’t be surprised if you hear about the film containing some sexual content. (I don’t know this for sure and, to be fair, am basing this insight on some older comments made by Aronofsky, so, things may have changed)
So then where does that leave us? Is there a good reason to see this film? Of course!
Darren is about to pull off what few have been able to do: telling a Biblical story with seriousness and some amazing creativity. The trailer for this film is enough to induce goosebumps and you’d have to be blind, deaf or dead not to be moved by the gravitas this film will obviously command. My perspective? Why can’t believers make films like this?
The closest thing I’ve seen come close is Mel Gibson’s, Passion of the Christ. Christians have got to start seeing the people of Scripture as real people, not as “demi-gods” and they’ve got to start learning how to use their creativity. The stories are there. The people are real. God is real! What other motivation do we need? Where’s our courage?
I, for one, will be first in line to see this film, regardless of whether I agree with how Aronofsky presents the story or not. I want to learn from him and I want to admire his ambition to take the Bible seriously when it comes to the arts. I can only hope other Christians will follow suit