This film is about a famous Bible character, it cost a huge amount of money, it has created a large amount of publicity, has high audience figures worldwide and features Russell Crowe. What’s not to like?
It is a Biblical epic in a contemporary style, with battle scenes reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, costumes and characters from Waterworld, and a post modern view. It is gripping, engaging, appealed to my teenagers and was a successful night out, which had us discussing creation and the flood all the way home. There is too much violence to recommend it to young children but, otherwise, I would suggest a trip to the cinema is worthwhile.
Some Christian commentators and websites have bitterly rejected it and warned viewers against it, saying that it is not true to the Biblical account. A few have called it blasphemous and called for a boycott. It is true that it is an interpretation of the story rather than a literal visual retelling and introduces new characters, different side plots and creates new tensions. Whilst I found some of them distracting, mostly they are what you would expect from a Hollywood money-making project today.
Russell Crowe’s Noah wrestles with the task set out for him and knows that God has ordained the flood to eradicate evil from the earth. His messages from God come in dreams, rather than direct conversations, so he is often confused as to the details of his task and his personal guidance. He lacks assurance that God has a plan for his salvation and that of his family, and this creates a conflict that almost wrecks everything in God’s plan. Without spoiling the plot of the film for you, this was the most distressing plot addition for me. But, maybe they were trying to make him a more believable figure? Perhaps wrestling to understand guidance and assurance is something we can all identify with at times.
The morning after the film I found my 18-year-old son reading Genesis chapter 9 over his breakfast and ready to discuss the flood. His Bible app, You Version, told him that there had been a 245% increase in viewing of the Noah chapters of Genesis since the film had been released. That can only be good news!
So, if you think your friends and neighbours will be watching this film over the next few weeks, you have two choices. You can stay at home, listen to the critics who say that Christians might be contaminated by this interpretaion of an atheistic director, and tell others that you choose not to watch the film. Or, you can get out of your comfort zone and into the cinema. Be the one who opens conversations and listens to the views of others and talk about the bits you enjoyed. When the DVD comes out, you could invite friends round and watch it together, with time to discuss it afterwards. Maybe you will get an opportunity to talk about the problem of assurance and bring in the story of Jesus and the difference He makes to your life.