The Noah Movie: Our Detailed Review

by Roger Patterson and Tim Chaffey on March 29, 2014

Editor’s note: A shorter review of the Noah movie appeared on Friday. The movie review below is a much more detailed examination of the new Hollywood film.

Admittedly Unbiblical

Noah director and writer Darren Aronofsky told The New Yorker magazine that his movie is “the least biblical biblical film ever made."1

On Thursday evening, a team of researchers from Answers in Genesis viewed the new Noah film. Based on reviews from trusted friends of the ministry who had seen the movie, including a staff member, we were hesitant to spend any money on watching this unbiblical picture. But AiG had already received hundreds of inquiries about our position on the film even before it was released, so we believed it was necessary for AiG’s research team to write an eyewitness review.

Does this mean that every Christian should watch this movie before they can determine whether it is good or bad? Not at all. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). We are offering our counsel here with this movie review, and we have already posted an initial brief review of the movie and hosted a live webcast discussing the subject. Our desire is to provide wise counsel to those who may consider attending this film that we cannot in any way endorse.

Answering Common Objections to a Critical Review

Whenever we have been critical of a movie, we inevitably receive the following types of responses, and it’s important to address these up front.

1. You haven’t seen the movie so how can you be critical of it?

Well, we have seen the movie, and an AiG staff member saw a cut of the film a few months ago, so this objection is irrelevant now. However, we were critical of the movie prior to its release because we had talked with people we trusted who had seen the movie, including the aforementioned staff member. In a similar way, and as was the case with the blasphemous film The Last Temptation of Christ, you don’t have to go see the film to discover that it is extremely unbiblical.

2. Why would you expect Hollywood to produce a biblical film?

We didn’t expect Hollywood to handle the biblical account of Noah and the Ark with integrity and respect for the Scriptures. Sadly, several Christian leaders have endorsed the film and encouraged people to go see it, claiming that the filmmakers did a good job of handling the text. Having seen the film now, we find it difficult for us to understand how any informed Christian could make such a claim. (See below for many examples where the movie distorted the text.)

3. It’s just a movie, so I’m going for entertainment purposes.

We are called to be holy, set apart from this world. Why should a child of God desire to fill his or her mind with ideas that are not in line with God’s Word? In this case, Noah goes far beyond botching a couple of details, it directly and overtly teaches the exact opposite of the Bible in many areas. While Christians have liberty to see a movie like this or not to see it, we also are called by our God to use our time and resources wisely. Further, some believers have suggested that the film is an opportunity for Christians to turn their brains off and just enjoy the movie. This idea is contrary to the commands of Scripture—we are called to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

4. You need to understand that the filmmakers are just using artistic license.

We have no problem with artistic license in a Bible-themed movie when it is done properly.

We have no problem with artistic license in a Bible-themed movie when it is done properly. In fact, anytime you decide to depict historical events, you will be using artistic license. We understand that. We used artistic license, for example, in portraying Noah at the Creation Museum, and we will be doing the same at the Ark Encounter. We don’t know what Noah looked like, what he wore, how he spoke, etc. The difference is that the filmmakers went beyond artistic license when they overtly contradicted the text in multiple areas and completely changed the character of Noah from being a godly, righteous man into a madman who was bent on making sure every last human being died, even if it meant Noah must slaughter his own grandchildren. See “Paramount’s Noah: Artistic License Run Amok” for more details on the film’s abuse of artistic license.

5. Think of all the evangelistic opportunities this movie will provide.

There is no doubt that this film will provide an opportunity for Christians to talk to people about the film. But talking about the film and connecting the ideas to the truths of Scripture is actually going to take a lot of work. How will you explain the film’s “rock people” from the Bible? Why doesn’t God speak to Noah in the movie? Does the serpent’s skin really give magical powers? Because of the multiplicity of errors and the paucity of biblical truth, sitting down with an open Bible and deprogramming the person who saw the film is the only answer—but it is going to be a lot of work. It would be a lot easier to encourage someone not to see the film and then offer to teach them the true account of Noah.

Ultimately, if we are looking to an atheist to make a film that that provides us an evangelistic opportunity, then maybe we have forgotten something: the power of the proclamation of the gospel (Romans 1:16–17) and the command to preach that gospel—even when there isn’t a movie to help us. With that said, there are still going to be opportunities to talk to those who have already seen the movie, but Christians are going to have to be intentional and boldly speak of the truth of God’s Word with words of grace and truth.

Is the Film Biblically Accurate?

One of the things we have heard from various Christian leaders is that the film was rather faithful to the biblical text. In fact, a seven-minute video was produced by a believer who works in Hollywood that displayed various endorsements of the film. In it, Ari Handel, the co-screenwriter of Noah stated, “It was very important to us to do two things at the same time. One was to not to do anything which contradicted the letter of the text. And the second was, wherever we could, without contradicting Genesis, we wanted to break expectations.”

So in the words of the film’s cowriter, it was supposedly very important for them not to contradict the letter of the text. Let’s see how well they achieved this goal.

The Film Shows

The Bible States

"In the beginning, there was nothing."

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

Adam and Eve had three sons.

Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel, Seth, and other sons and daughters. (Genesis 5:4)

Noah’s father Lamech died when Noah was a young boy.

Lamech lives until Noah is about 595 years old, dying approximately five years before the Flood.

Japheth is Noah’s youngest son.

Ham is Noah’s youngest son (Genesis 9:24 ).

Japheth releases the raven from the ark.

Noah releases the raven (Genesis 9:7).

God used the big bang and evolution (see below for more details).

God created everything in six days (Genesis 1).

Man is to be judged because of what humans have done to the earth.

Man is to be judged for sinning against the holy and righteous God.

Noah builds the ark solely to save “the innocents” (meaning the animals), and after it serves its purpose, man is to die off.

Noah built the Ark for the saving of his household (Hebrews 11:7) and the animals (Genesis 6:19–20).

Either Ari Handel has very little knowledge of the text or he deliberately lied about his point to promote the movie. Both options should be enough to make one question the integrity of the film’s writing.

If they can’t bother to get the smaller points right, then how can we trust them to accurately handle the larger issues?

One might argue that many of these issues are rather minor points in the grand scheme of the biblical narrative. But it reveals a cavalier attitude towards the Bible. If they can’t bother to get the smaller points right, then how can we trust them to accurately handle the larger issues (and they don’t—see below)? Think about it. They could have made Ham the youngest of the boys or had Noah release the raven without changing their overall story. They could have had Lamech die at the proper time and still open the movie with the setup to the latter confrontation with Tubal-Cain by giving Noah a beloved uncle or older brother who gets killed. But they didn’t. Instead, the filmmakers directly went against the Word of God on issues that wouldn’t have changed their story, which demonstrates that they absolutely did not respect God’s Word. They did not try hard to avoid doing “anything which contradicted the letter of the text.”

Is the Film Thematically Accurate?

The disclaimer placed along with numerous advertisements stated:

The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.

Ken Ham and the Filmmaker Agree!

"I agree with atheist Darren Aronofsky’s statement about his just-released film “Noah": It is the “least biblical” of Bible-themed films. Any other agreement I have with the filmmaker’s take on the book of Genesis and its account of Noah ends right there. … [Noah] may be the worst film I’ve ever seen.”

– Ken Ham in Time magazine online

The last sentence is certainly true, of course, but what about the rest of the statement? In one sense, the film was inspired by the biblical account of Noah. It has Noah, an ark, a flood, and some other names from the Bible. But is the film really “true to the essence, values, and integrity” of the account of Noah? Absolutely not.

There are several huge problems with this film. For one, its characterization of Noah is very troubling. In this movie, Noah is willing to murder three men in order to try to save the life of an animal that had been severely wounded. To this Hollywood Noah, animal life was far more important than human life. He didn’t really try to save the life of a young woman whom Ham tried to save. Moreover, if Noah’s daughter-in-law gave birth to a girl, Noah said, “From the moment of her birth I will cut her down.” Throughout the second half of the film, Noah is obsessed with making sure all of humanity is wiped out so that the “innocents” (read: animals) can live peacefully in a new post-flood Eden.

How does this storyline compare to the biblical Noah? Genesis 6:9 states that he “was a just man, perfect in his generation. Noah walked with God.” He was faithful to do everything God had commanded him to do (Genesis 6:22). God said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). In the book of Ezekiel, Noah is identified as a righteous man and is placed in the same context as Job and Daniel (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). Peter called Noah a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Noah also appears in the “Faith Hall of Fame” chapter—Hebrews 11:7 states, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Of course, Noah wasn’t perfect. Noah had inherited Adam’s sin nature and had surely sinned countless times during his life. But God declared him righteous and even blameless in his generation. While Noah was not perfect, he was surely not a man who was willing to kill three men to protect a dying lizard-dog. At one point following the flood, Noah became drunk, leading to the infamous incident with his son Ham. But how could anyone think that the Noah from the movie is an accurate representation of the biblical man? The Noah of the Bible is not the Noah depicted in the film. To intentionally misrepresent a prophet in this way is a form of blasphemy against God and His chosen servant.

An even bigger problem is the film’s misrepresentation of God.

An even bigger problem is the film’s misrepresentation of God. To begin with, God is always referred to as the Creator. While this is indeed an appropriate way to identify God, it seems odd that it is the only name used for Him. While God is never depicted and He never speaks in the film, what we learn about Him from the characters is blasphemous. For example, God is always distant. Noah gets piecemeal instructions for building the ark through a series of visions or dreams, and he is left to solve the puzzle of what he is supposed to do on his own. In fact, part of the “revelation” Noah receives about the flood comes under the influence of some sort of potion given to Noah by Methuselah (a type of witch doctor in the film). Yet the Bible tells us that God spoke to Noah and told him exactly what to do and why he was supposed to do it. Is God unable to directly tell him? Is He unwilling? In many ways, the deity in Noah was more like the deistic god—a creator who does not interfere with the world.

God is also seen as cruel and vicious in Noah. The only time Noah prays in the film is right before he resolves to murder his unborn grandchildren (if they are girls). When the twin girls are born, Noah holds a long dagger over the face of one of the babies. After several tense seconds, he pulls the knife away, looks up to the sky and says that he can’t do it, that he’s failed God. So in the film, God wanted Noah to murder his own grandchildren, but Noah failed to carry out God’s plan.

Many Christians have claimed that the film presents the themes of mercy, judgment, the depravity of man, and the struggle to discern God’s will. While those concepts can be found in the film, they are distorted to the point that they don’t accurately represent those themes as described in the Bible. For example, Noah visits the camp of the men who are threatening to attack him. He goes under the cover of darkness and witnesses physical abuse, abduction, exchanging women for meat (and apparent cannibalism), and other sins. Then Noah sees himself (his doppelganger) as the one who is eating the meat of an animal. He recognizes his own sinfulness, and that it extends to his family as well. But the sins are not sins against a holy God. They are sins against the creation in the form of eating animals and stripping the land of its resources. In line with Romans 1, the Noah of the film seems more concerned about violating the creatures and the creation rather than offending the Creator.

Evil Is Good and Good Is Evil

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

Nearly every moral issue seen in Noah is inverted.

This verse repeatedly came to mind while reflecting on this movie because the film often flipped biblical morality on its head. It’s important to realize that the director and cowriter, Darren Aronofsky, is a self-professed atheist. This fact alone doesn’t mean that he couldn’t make a good film on the Bible’s history (especially if he seeks advice from Bible-believing Christians), but it should make believers wary of what he is going to present. Nearly every moral issue seen in Noah is inverted.

As mentioned earlier, Noah, renowned in the Bible for being a righteous man, is portrayed in the second half of the film as a psychopath bent on wiping out humanity. He is far more concerned about the plants and animals than he is about people.

Rather than being the holy God described in Scripture, the god of this film is a vengeful being who remains silent when Noah pleads for an answer about his pregnant daughter-in-law. The god of this film is shown as using the cruel process of evolution (survival of the fittest) to bring about Adam and Eve, meaning that billions of animals must have lived and died long before Adam sinned (more on the evolutionary teachings below). This pro-evolution approach turns the film’s god into a cosmic hypocrite. He wants Noah to save all the animals on the ark so they could repopulate a new paradise where man is absent, yet in the process of creating the world he allowed billions of animals to suffer and die long before man was ever on the scene. Why would he have ever created man in the first place?

The film’s “villain” is actually the one who makes some of the strongest (we are using that term very loosely) theological statements. Tubal-Cain reminds Noah’s son Ham that man was made in God’s image and that man had been given dominion over the animals and the earth. Of course, Aronofsky takes this to the extreme, perfectly in line with the usual Hollywood thinking. Tubal-Cain is the evil man, yet he believes in land ownership, gun ownership (yes, he wielded some sort of explosive projectile weapon), and man’s superiority over—and right to—hunt animals. He’s also portrayed as a meat-eater, which is depicted in the film as the worst possible sin. It’s true that man was not permitted to eat meat until after the Flood (Genesis 9:3), so it would have been wrong for Noah to eat meat prior to that time. But the film’s Noah was inordinately disgusted by this activity yet had no trouble butchering human beings made in God’s image when some people attempted to eat an animal (and in other scenes).

In the backstory told by Noah to his family once they are inside the ark, the serpent in the garden of eden sheds its skin. This distracts Adam while Eve wanders off to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This shed snakeskin becomes some sort of magical talisman that Noah and his ancestors wrap around their forearm to use while blessing their children and for working wonders. So the shed skin of the serpent in the garden is good, yet God is bad.

In one of the strangest twists in the film, the fallen angels are the good guys. Yes, the fallen angels (called Watchers) are not demons but are the self-sacrificing heroes of the film. Aronofsky and Handel even flipped the morality of the non-canonical Book of Enoch and other ancient Jewish writings. In Enoch, an angel named Semjaza leads a group of 200 angels to come to earth and marry women, thus rebelling against God and corrupting mankind with their sorceries. Yet in the movie, these angels take pity on man because the vengeful god has thrown them out of the garden, so they leave heaven with good intentions—to help man. But the cruel god in this film causes them to crash into the ground. The earth clings to their bodies of light turning them into multi-armed rock giants (resembling a conglomeration of boulders). Methuselah, a sorcerer of sorts, is the only human who comes to their defense. He even used the magical snake skin to create an explosion that burned up hundreds of warriors who were trying to kill the rock giants/fallen angels.

In the middle of the film, Tubal-Cain finds Noah and declares his ownership over the land that Noah is on. He asks Noah if he really thinks that one man could stand against his army. Noah said, “I’m not alone.” Great! The Christian viewer thinks that Noah is about to demonstrate his dependence on God in the face of overwhelming odds. Wrong. At that moment, the rock giant Watchers, who sat motionless as piles of stone during the confrontation, stand up to intimidate Tubal-Cain and his army. In other words, Noah doesn’t depend on God to rescue him. His help comes from the fallen angels.

But it gets worse in Noah. The fallen angels, led by Semjaza, defend Noah and the ark at the start of the flood from Tubal-Cain’s raging army that is fighting to board the ark. The Watchers begin to fall one by one under the army’s onslaught. As the first one dies, the Watcher cries out to the heavens for forgiveness, then his rock-like body transforms into light and shoots up into the sky. This “resurrection” prompts another rock giant to proclaim, “He returns to the Creator.” So even though the Bible is quite clear that fallen angels cannot be saved and are destined for eternal punishment (Matthew 25:41; Hebrews 2:16; 2 Peter 2:4), Aronofsky lets his film’s real heroes go to heaven. Again, so much for biblical accuracy.

Given these moral reversals in the film, it is astonishing that any Christian leader could possibly endorse Noah.

Given these moral reversals in the film, it is astonishing that any Christian leader could possibly endorse Noah. It’s truly incredible to think that Aronofsky and Handel just happened to overlook these points. No, their script includes clear, deliberate attempts to subvert the Bible’s morality, along with Scriptures proclamation of God’s character, the concepts of righteousness and mercy, the eternal judgment awaiting fallen angels, and man’s place in creation.

Theistic Evolution

As mentioned earlier, the film promotes an evolutionary view of creation. Noah tells his family members gathered in the ark, “In the beginning there was nothing.” Then we are “treated” to a visual display of the big bang, complete with the earth being formed via the nebular hypothesis as a molten ball that is hit by another object to form the moon on the second day. Then life starts as a tiny organism in the ocean, morphs into a fish which swims closer to the surface. The fish becomes some sort of amphibious creature that crawls onto land, and then turns into a reptile that soon evolves into a rodent scurrying through a tunnel in the earth. Before long, this animal morphs into a primate, and then we see an ape swinging through the vines, leaping off the final vine into a clearing, and the screen flashes bright. When the light fades, Adam and Eve are on the screen, clothed in light.

The film gives every impression that Adam and Eve were just the next link in the evolutionary chain that includes a swinging ape.

Some Christian leaders who have endorsed the film have admitted that evolutionary elements exist in Noah. But they stress that a special creation of Adam and Eve is depicted. This simply isn’t true. The film gives every impression that Adam and Eve were just the next link in the evolutionary chain that includes a swinging ape. While the film has several references of man being created in God’s image, what could that even mean if we just evolved from the apes? If all of these creatures are in our ancestry, does that mean that they are made in God’s image, too? Furthermore, based on the film’s over-the-top concern for creatures, it would seem that animals are even greater image-bearers than man.

AiG has hundreds of articles and resources dealing with the errors of evolution and its incompatibility with Scripture. In fact, the Bible expressly denies any sort of evolutionary development of the animals. God created all things in six days (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11), and each of the animals and plants were to bring forth “after their kind” or “after its kind.” In other words, dogs will always produce dogs, cats will always produce cats, etc. This biblical truth is perfectly consistent with all we’ve ever observed. Also, the order of events in the evolutionary story and what is depicted on the screen contradicts the Bible (see Dr. Terry Mortenson’s "outstanding that details more than 20 differences in the order of events).

We Could Go On

While there were many other errors and concerns about Noah, we will stop for now. Time doesn’t allow us to tell you about Methuselah’s very odd powers that come across as very mystical rather than coming from God, the animals being put to sleep aboard the ark by a form of incense made from leaves, Tubal-Cain eating the sleeping animals after he chopped his way into the floating ark (maybe this explains the extinction of the dinosaurs?), the pulsing circular rainbow, the lizard-dog, magic seeds preserved from the garden of eden, and on and on. Look for more web articles in the days to come that will deal with some of these specific points in more detail.

Making the Most of a Bad Thing

Noah is a film filled with blasphemous representations of God and character assassinations of Noah. It distorts biblical truth in a way that is dangerous and will have a corrupting influence on those who watch the film without an accurate understanding of what the Bible actually teaches. Though we do not call for a boycott of the film, AiG does not recommend that anyone see this film. But we know that there will be those who will see it. Because of that, there is an opportunity for Christians to interact with those non-Christians who have seen the film.

So how can you take advantage of this film to share the gospel? First, you don’t have to see the film in order to have an intelligent discussion with someone. All you have to do is ask good questions about what was presented in the movie and then open up a Bible with the person to show them what is really taught in Scripture about the Flood account. Ask questions like: How did Noah know what God wanted him to do? How was mankind portrayed in the film? Why was the world flooded in the film? What was the goal of Noah building an ark? What seemed really odd to you in the film? Did you recognize yourself in any of the characters and why?

Additionally, you can tell someone that you chose not to see the film because you have heard from people you trust that it distorts the Word of God and the character of God in ways that are offensive to you as a Christian. This could be a powerful testimony to the value you place on your faith in God.

The themes of sin and justice presented in the film, though distorted, are opportunities to point to the true biblical concepts of sin, justice, and, mercy.

As you have these discussions with others, open your Bible. Don’t be afraid to point to the Word of God as your authority. If you don’t, then you are simply arguing one opinion against another. As you talk about God’s failure in the film to clearly communicate with Noah or point out the film’s focus of animals being more important than humans, remember that your goal is to direct the discussion to the gospel. The themes of sin and justice presented in the film, though distorted, are opportunities to point to the true biblical concepts of sin, justice, and, mercy. All of those are avenues to helping the persons you are talking to realize that they are sinful, that God must judge sin because He is holy, but that He has also provided a way to receive His mercy.

Jesus Christ came to the earth, lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father, willingly laid down His life on the Cross as a substitute for mankind, and rose from the grave victorious over death. The penalty that we deserve for sinning against God was paid for by Jesus. When we turn to Him in repentant faith, we can receive that salvation by the grace of God. Just as Noah found grace in the eyes of God and was saved aboard the Ark, we can look to Christ as our ark of salvation.

Go and proclaim this good news to everyone you can!

You can watch AiG’s special webcast featuring a panel that reviewed Noah. To follow the progress of the full-size, evangelistic Ark that AiG is building, go to ArkEncounter.com.

Footnotes

  1. "Darren Aronofsky Gets Biblical,” The New Yorker, March 10, 2014, http://www.newyorker.com/services/presscenter/2014/03/17/140317pr_press_release.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.