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It could take me days to write out a full list of all the places Noah drifts from the biblical account.Thirty seconds. I actually had my husband start his stopwatch at the beginning of the movie to time how long Paramount Pictures would stay on track with the Bible for their rendition of Noah. Thirty seconds was as long as they lasted. It did not improve from there. It is almost overwhelming to note the level of “artistic license” that was used in this movie. What you could correspond to the biblical account of Noah was a man named Noah and his wife with three sons, Methuselah being his grandfather, Lamech being his father, a boat, some animals, and a lot of water—the end. Even the people on that small list are only similar in name and relation and do not resemble at all what the Bible’s account tells us about them. As well as the people, the ark is the same in name only as well; it looks more like something built on an episode of Gilligan’s Island than a true seaworthy vessel. At least they got the whole-lot-of-water part right.
It could take me days to write out a full list of all the places Noah drifts from the biblical account. What I want to highlight here are the top ten concerns that I have with the movie. I would be remiss, though, if I did not forewarn others that this is not a family-friendly movie. It is a very dark, violent, and at times disturbing movie. I found myself looking away during certain scenes. I could easily see children as old as middle school having nightmares after seeing this movie.
Thirty seconds into the movie we are told that Adam and Eve had three children. Cain killed Abel and was exiled. All the “evil” people in the movie are descendants of Cain. The only “good” people are the descendants of Seth. The impression is given that Noah, his wife, three sons, and Methuselah are the only remaining descendants of Seth. They adopt an injured girl that grows up to be Shem’s wife, but it is indicated based on where and how they find her that she is also of the line of Cain. She is the only exception to the rule that if you are of the line of Cain you therefore do not worship God. The Bible tells us that Noah was just and a preacher of righteousness and that the world had turned away from God. Whether you were or were not a follower of God was not limited to whose bloodline you came from.
Paramount’s rendition of the pre-Flood environment is the exact opposite of what current research indicates it would have looked like. Research suggests that the majority of our coal and oil deposits were formed during the flood from large amounts of plant and animal matter being deposited as sediment by the flood waters. But the land in the movie is barren. People are just scraping by and are fighting with each other over the little that they can find. In fact, Methuselah spends the majority of the movie hoping for a single berry!
Rock creatures that glow through the cracks are explained as being angels that after the fall of Adam and Eve came to earth to help the humans survive in this new situation. This did not please God and he cursed them to be encased in the rock of the earth and would not allow them re-admittance to heaven. These rock creatures are referred to as “watchers,” and help Noah build and protect the ark until they are destroyed by Tubal-cain and allowed to return to “the Creator.”
Methuselah is portrayed as a witch doctor. He gives Noah a cup of tea that brings him drug-induced dreams from which he derives the idea of building the ark. Methuselah also “blesses” Shem’s wife, healing her old injury and allowing her to conceive. Tubal-cain steals the “birthright” from Lamech as he is trying to hand it down to Noah. The “birthright” is the shed skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden that, when wrapped around one’s arm, gives magical powers. Finally, there is the last remaining seed from the Garden of Eden that Methuselah gives to Noah. When planted, this seed turns the barren wasteland into an oasis with plenty of trees and supplies to build the ark.
The number of animals placed on the ark is far beyond our best estimates. The indication in the movie is that two of every species(smallest level of classification)were on the ark rather than two of every kind (approximately the family level of taxonomic classification).There is only a slight hint that the pre-Flood animals may have looked different, but there are no indications of dinosaurs on the ark. Once on the ark, all the animals were anesthetized with some type of incense and kept that way for the full duration of the time on the ark. An anesthetized state is not the same as a hibernation state, and no animal—especially those with higher metabolic rates such as the birds—would last for days in this state, let alone months.
One word . . . mental. Noah isolates his family from all others. From the very beginning of the movie he has it out for his son Ham. He is convinced that the human race is not worth redeeming and that it is acceptable to kill other humans in protection of the animals. He continually looks more ragged and less in control of his mental stability as the movie goes on.
Three sons, three wives. It sounds so simple, but even that detail could not be left alone. Since Noah is convinced that the human line will die with them once they have released all the animals from the ark, he does not want to get wives for the younger two sons. The only reason he accepts Shem’s wife is because she is barren, and he becomes enraged when he finds out Methuselah has healed her and she is pregnant.
Noah sits on the ark and tells the family the creation account. His words match the biblical account (although not chronologically) but the computer graphics during this time show an obvious theistic evolution ideology. In stunning CG we watch the earth form and cool, and single cells join to become bacteria, which become fish, which become amphibians, and onwards and upwards through the evolutionary tree.
Animals and the environment are the key concern for the whole movie. Humans are just a disease on God’s creation. Noah is firmly convinced that the reason for the Flood is to rid the planet of all the humans so that the rest of creation can return to the paradise state it was in, back in the Garden of Eden. It is for this reason Noah is prepared to kill his only grandchildren—both girls—so they will not be able to continue the human line. He informs the family that each will have to bury the next oldest and that Japheth will have to die alone after they are all gone.
Tubal-cain realizes that if a flood comes he wants to be on the ark, and he is prepared to steal the ark from Noah. As the rain starts, an entire battle scene erupts as the members of Tubal-cain’s army fight their way past the watchers to try to get on the ark. Noah does hand-to-hand combat with anyone who makes it up the ramp. It is then that the flood overtakes the boat and the family sits inside listening to the screams of people asking to be saved and brought on board.
The worst offense of the whole movie was the blatant misrepresentation of God, who He is, and how He interacts with His creation. I think we need to pause on this fact. God is portrayed as a distant—unaware or uncaring—overseer who cares more about the animals than humans. Key decisions are not placed at God’s feet in the movie but on Noah’s shoulders, putting him in the position of a divine judge with concerns for his mental stability. Though this is the farthest thing from the truth of who God is, it does give an inside look into what the world believes about God. This should be a challenge for us Christians to share the Word of God and allow it to relay the truth of who He is to a world that only knows a false image of Him. The world needs to know the one true God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Nothing is without redeeming qualities, and that is true for Noah as well. Despite how much Paramount “missed the boat” (pun intended) with their telling of Noah, they did get one key issue correct: sin started when Adam and Even took of the fruit, defying God’s commandment, and because of that we have all inherited a sin nature. The Tubal-cain character talks about how since that time we have done nothing but kill each other in different ways. Noah points out that we are all inherent sinners but misses the fact that God can still redeem us should we receive His gift of salvation.
The other redeeming facet is one that I do not believe the writers intended. During the scene when the flood is coming, Noah and his family enter through the door of the ark. Tubal-cain ends up hacking his way through the side. It strongly reminded me of Jesus’ words in John 10:
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. (John 10:1-2, NKJV)
I cannot in good conscience recommend seeing this movie. There is little that a believer will get out of it. If trying to use it as a witnessing tool, there is so much inaccuracy to wade through on so many critical points that whoever you are witnessing to may drown in the details long before you can get to the gospel message.
graduated with her doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of Illinois in 2007. She practiced in a rural mixed animal practice while her husband finished his PhD. They now currently reside in Connecticut where she practices small animal medicine with an emphasis on veterinary rehabilitation. She is on the board of advisors for Christian Veterinary Mission and has had the opportunity to share Christ through veterinary medicine all over the world. Through their Pair-A-Docs ministry, she and her husband teach at local churches and special events about biblical creation. In her spare time she competes in Scottish Highland Dancing, takes care of their hobby farm, and enjoys a good book.