WP Films Blog

My Response To The Movie, Noah

Many have asked for my thoughts on the new film Noah, and although MUCH has already been written about it, and many different critiques have been given, I realize there are still a few out there who are curious as to what I think about this film, so here we go.

I mentioned on my Facebook and Twitter feeds that I liked the film…sort of. This is a very difficult movie, partly because of director Darren Aronofsky’s bold vision and gutsy style. I definitely give the guy credit—he created a film that is wholly his own, wholly his vision. But therein lies the problem.

Much has been made about the director’s apparent atheism. I’ve never met him, so I can’t speak to his religious beliefs with any conclusiveness (I’m wary of people getting their “he’s a Christian” or “he’s an atheist” beliefs from a 30 second sound byte—the answer is usually much more complicated than that), but as a fellow artist, storyteller, and teacher of creativity for 15 years, I have learned one thing for certain. What a person believes ALWAYS comes out in what they create. When you create something—especially something as time consuming and all-encompassing as a feature length movie, you cannot help but put part of your soul into it. Quite often, it is your deep inner man that draws you to that particular story in the first place. That Darren Aronofsky admits that he’s wanted to make the story of Noah since he was young should come as no surprise then, as obviously the story touches on some of the deep places within him.

Unfortunately, the more I’ve thought about this film, the more I am disappointed by it. I really wanted to like this movie, and I was fully willing to deal with the creative license that was sure to come from turning 5 chapters in the Bible into a two-and-a-half hour epic. I am probably more forgiving of creative license than most Christians, simply because I am an artist, and all artists understand and in fact embrace the idea of questions, mystery, and challenging material. So I’m fine with the Nephilim/Rock people/Watchers stuff, even if he turned inherently evil characters (in real life) into the good guys. I’m fine with a darker Noah—I don’t believe for a second that this was an easy thing for him to carry. One of my favorite scenes in the film is after the family has been shut inside the ark, and they must sit there in silence as all of humanity screams for help outside. It is a haunting moment, and it is the kind of scene most Christian films would never include. I’m fine with all the eco-friendliness of the film. Frankly, I don’t understand why so many Christians get so uptight about this—after all, God makes it very clear in Genesis that we are in fact stewards of this planet. I don’t agree with many critics who say the greatest flaw of this film’s humanity is that they eat meat and destroy forests—I thought Aronofsky did a fine job of showing a brutal, degenerate society. No, I am fine with much of the creative license taken in this film. But there is one decision that, in my opinion, steps over the line and turns this from a fine film with some flaws to a film with the potential to be truly dangerous.

If you want to change a Bible story around to fit a particular story you want to tell, go ahead. But don’t you dare make my God look like something He is not. That is the unforgivable offense for me. This is my best friend you’re talking about here, and I will not stand idly by while you make Him look like He’s something He’s not.

I said earlier that what you believe always comes out in what you create. In Noah, Aronofsky’s view towards God is made abundantly clear. This is a God who, if He exists, is distant, unemotional, strict, and unbending. He is a God who almost relishes the chance to destroy humanity for its sins. The ending is particularly problematic, and without spoiling anything, it is problematic because you are left with the question of who is more merciful: God or Noah? The real life answer is, of course, God, who is the most merciful, loving Person in the Universe. But in this movie’s Universe, the question lingers.

All that being said, it should really come as no surprise to anyone that Noah is the film that it is. It is a movie created by a man who obviously is not friends with God yet, who doesn’t yet understand His nature, His goodness, His mercy, His love for humanity, and how awful this decision to destroy His creation must have been for Him. How can we fault a man for misunderstanding something he has never known? I’m not going to rail against Aronofsky because, well, at least he was honest. At least he had a bold vision and made a statement that he felt was true and real. Unfortunately, it is not a statement that most Christians can agree with, which is why everyone is so hot and bothered about this movie. The Bible is important to us because it is a gift from God—a way for Him to reveal Himself to us. When you change the very essence of one of the stories in there, which in turn causes our God to look horrible and goes in the opposite direction of who He really is, then of course people are going to get upset. But I’m willing to disagree with Aronofsky while not demonizing him, because quite frankly, he doesn’t know any better. He doesn’t know my King yet. Hopefully one day he will.

25 Comments

  • Tom Morrow

    Thank you for sharing. I haven't seen the film but I enjoyed your very perceptive critic of the film.

  • Beth

    Wow! This was honoring! And non-hating. Just like with other hot topic issues, there seems to be "hate" or "love"--but you made it about finding the real problem without making a person the problem. Instead of him being "evil" you humanized him again. :0). And it wasnt the whole movie but a precise theme that made it not okay for you to watch. Thank you for giving me words that echo how I feel as well. Yo da best Darren!

  • Chris

    Very well said. Thanks for sharing your insights. God bless.

  • Joel Watson

    You kind of miss a bit of the point with the ending. God gave Adam & Eve the choice to sin, and Emma Watson's challenge to Noah is (maybe) Noah didn't fail God, maybe God was giving Noah a choice. God has done this more than once. Adam&Eve, "anything you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven", Moses striking the rock, etc. I'm not saying the ideas still aren't hard to completely reconcile (or even that we should), but I think Aronofsky is a little more generous than he's been given credit.

  • Elisabeth LaMouria

    YEAY! Well written. We appreciate it!

  • Scott VanderWerf

    Good stuff Darren! One good thing was that we did get to see a merciful side of "the creator" when he apparently allowed the fallen angels to return back to heaven. So at least there was that. Regarding Noah essentially pleading with God to not have to end his own life and the lives of his family members, the movie did not show that God answered. It just showed Noah interpreting the apparent silence as a "yes" you have to kill everyone. Noah could have both interpreted his dream (where he saw himself as "Evil") differently, and he could have interpreted the silence from God (when pleading with him) differently as well. So I felt that God wasn't the villain, Noah was. Both interpretations were essentially his call. He could have seen that although there was "evil" in Him, God was merciful enough to save him and his family. He could have interpreted God's silence as a "no" instead of a "yes" to kill his family. Just some thoughts...

  • LauraB1186

    Very well said Darren. I keep asking myself the question "why do Christians feel like have the right to judge other's behavior when that person doesn't know God yet? And in so how will they know the truth if they don't know Him personally?" That's why Jesus had the freedom to be with sinners and reach out to them, but bristled at the religious that had every resource to be in line with God's heart but ignored. Instead they chose to judge and strut around, rather than change their world with the love of God. I'm glad you wrote on this. Can't wait to see "Holy Ghost". I pray it impacts people's lives and hearts. Only when our hearts change do we become new creations. God bless!

  • James Brobst

    I love that you used the word yet, God loves Aronofsky and wants him to know and recieve His love. What could happen if the church of Christ would fervently pray for him. Let's find out

  • Karla Smith

    After what I have heard you say, I will not be going to the movie. I am pleased with the fact that Hollywood would even try to make a movie based on the Bible, but turning evil characters into good and making God out to be the bad guy is not what we Christians know the Word teaches and we also know from close personal experience with our Savior. Sooooo, thanks but no thanks Hollywood, next time stick with the script -- the Word of the Living God. If you don't believe it, then stick with si-fi, which seems to be in the area of your expertise.

  • Michael Morejon

    Amen, I haven't seen it , but thanks for sharing your thoughts! I will pray that Darren will know how loving and amazing our Heavenly Father is. If God truly wanted to destroy all of humanity for "kicks" and because he hated us so much, he would have destroyed Noah too and never allowed humanity to reproduce again. His love shines everywhere, even in the darkest times like Noah's days.

  • Rick Hainey

    One of the reasons why I enjoy the movies you made is the way you articulate your views without stepping all over the other parties involved with different views. My prayer is that the movie will create a thirst, a curiosity that didn't exist before the film for the non believing movie goer so they pick up the bible and learn that our God is all loving leading to the "why" of Jesus: redemption, reconciliation, intimacy as it was in the beginning. Can't wait for Holy Ghost. Proud to be a backer!

  • Jim Hurley

    Well done Darren. Thank you. Bill Johnson corrected himself on one occasion while I was listening to him at a conference. He called a person who did not "know" God yet as an "unbeliever"...then quickly and sincerely changed that to "pre-believer". One day Mr, Aronofsky will know our Father. His Father. I sense even as we speak..there is an inner working. As you wrote, the book "The Shack" kept coming to mind. I LOVE The Shack and the artistic liberty (revelationship) William Paul Young took in the main character's journey to "know" God. William Paul knew God when he wrote so brilliantly. So even though the main character had His issues and anger with God as they engaged...he came to know The Truth. God is good. God is Love. I would hope that Mr.Aronofsky find a copy of The Shack and open the pages. He will find that God is not mad at him...He is mad about him. That he is to die for....and to live for. Papa....draw him close. Holy Spirit have Your Way. Jesus overcome him with You love. Ours is a ministry of reconciliation. May the sequel be like scales that fall from his eyes. Amen and Amen.

  • Sherry Adams Deel

    Well said Darren.

  • Andy Falstad

    Thank you for an honest, gracious critique. You set a good example . I was harsher in my take on the film, because I am concerned for the wide spread message it gives. But God is able to work all things, even this film, to the good of those who love him, the called. May the discussions that follow bring truth and understanding to those who don't know yet how good God is.

  • Trogdorian

    love it! ty for sharing your thoughts and you beautifully expressed what I had been wrestling with. I agree with everything you said in the beginning but I too couldn't place what exactly in the movie bothered me but you said what was on my mind without me really knowing it in the end.

  • Aaron L

    Mr. Wilson, I'm happy to say that your problem with Noah is based on a huge misunderstanding. (Stop reading: SPOILERS.) It was not God's will that Noah kill his two grand daughters. This is made abundantly clear when God performs a miracle and heals Ila's womb, followed by Ila giving birth to two girls (precisely the number needed for the family to populate the earth). Noah, in this movie at least, mistakenly believed that it was God's will that he should prevent his family from multiplying. Noah's decision to not kill his grandchildren was anything but disobedience. Respectfully, I suggest giving it another viewing, as you may want to amend this review.

  • scarcasticD

    I keep hearing the "This is a God who, if He exists, is distant, unemotional, strict, and unbending." But that God isn't in the Noah film, like all people with Vision sometimes God calls us to do the insane and uses people we least expect to get us to move, and a lot of times when we're on the verge of finding God, it can feel like were thousands of miles away. Noah throughout is given the vision, the events are orchestrated, and everything seems to happen with the creators approval. Noah has free will, but God sends Angels to look after the building, he send the animals, he gives Noah the process to keep them all in close Quarters, and two things need to happen before the boat will hit dry land. The last evil human must be vanquished, and Noah must learn a lesson about Justice and Mercy. When he throws down the knife, the promise of land is made known with the Dove. To quote my favorite JJ Heller Song - "I Don't Know What You're Doing, But I Know Who You Are." God's ways are not always clear, and sometimes he's even aloof. distant, and unemotional. But he may be preparing us all for something greater.

  • Kathryn

    I agree it was okay to creatively embellish the basic story, but reducing the number of women in the gene pool and changing God and Noah into dysfunctional characters made me cringe. It was both insensible and unbiblical.

  • Joseph Holland

    Thank you for standing up for Aaronofsky. It's great to see someone who is becoming influential in the Christian community choose love and understanding , instead of offense and and talking about how evil is man is. He isn't evil. Just like you said, he doesn't know the God we do. He is another hurting human being who thought God is ready to swing the hammer on His creation like a twisted father. That is how most of us probably viewed God before we started a relationship

  • Jen Street

    I love your review. My biggest issue with most reviews coming from the Christian camp is that they have the audacity to throw a tantrum about Hollywood using it's own insight to create movies, when we (as believers, as a whole) politely stepped out of that arena - what about 40 or 50 years ago? The shame belongs to us (I use that term loosely), or perhaps it's better to say the responsibility belongs to us. We should have never separated ourselves - out of fear - from the arts and entertainment arena. But now that we have, I hope this will stir enough spirit-filled believers to stop whining and step up to the big boy table and start creating with excellence. In partnership with the Holy Spirit, the things we create should outshine anything put out there by the world. Guess what? We get to keep practicing until we get there. Movies like Fireproof and Courageous (both of which I liked) are great, but they do not have what it takes to stand against the blockbusters Hollywood is putting out there. Are we creating to just entertain ourselves our are we creating to bring truth and light to the whole world?

  • Jodi Faith

    Awesome response! Awesome beyond words! Now I think I can go see it cuz before my heart was just hurting and I didn't know quite what to think! Thank-you for that. I love being reminded that grace can endure! Needed this reminder today actually!

  • Alison

    Very well put!

  • Beth Nugent

    Excellent! Perfectly communicated. It is very challenging to do as you have, disagree with the wrong portrayal of God WITHOUT hating the lost man who did it. Hate the sin, not the sinner. I agree that one day Aronofsky WILL know Jesus and the true Father.

  • Wesley David Rees

    Late to the party here... I thought that this was very thoughtful and as you indicated, Aronofsky appears to not have met our Creator God who is Merciful, Loving and Longsuffering. Most of those traits are not found in many of us as Christians and when we rail against children of Adam doing what comes natural to the natural man, it doesn't show love. Which in many cases may be why they have the view of God that they do. Thanks for this piece and we'll be praying that those who would rather hate than show love will see that it is not very helpful to do so. Thanks again for your insight...

  • Gordon

    With respect to Mr. Wilson, where has Mr. Aronofsky been quoted saying he wanted God to be "distant, unemotional, strict, and unbending." Where in the story of Noah does God not appear that way? Maybe Mr. Wilson should re-read it. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+5:32-10:1 Lets be honest, people didn't like this movie because it was to "artistic", challenging and realistic. How does one tell the story of the destruction of humanity in a gentle way? I am a Christian and attend a fantastic bible based church every week. Where in this SPECIFIC story does God show "His nature, His goodness, His mercy, His love for humanity, and how awful this decision to destroy His creation must have been for Him." Seriously? Its not in this bible story. Yes God is all those things, but not in the story of Noah. You can take the passage from the Noah story in Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God" and use it for war or capital punishment and no one cares? What about thou shall not murder? Isn't murder killing someone against their will? It saddens me believers have become so dense they can't actually be opened minded as Mr. Wilson its trying to appear. This article was just a much a slap in the face to the filmmakers as any other. I think if more Christians could have resisted the urge to jump on the hate bandwagon and actually watch the film we could have a better understanding of its message.

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