Currently, I am sitting on my boyfriend’s couch typing on an iPad. I confess I have never typed on an iPad before. It is weird—a cross between a keyboard and a smartphone—so I apologise for any typos or autocorrect errors that may result.
Also, there will be no BEDA image today, because I don’t have image editing software on this iPad.
Anyway, the thing I want to write about here is the movie Noah—specifically the things that I wish I could publish in the review I’m writing for Journey, but I won’t because I’m too shy and I don’t want the readers to think I’m picking a fight with them.
There has been a bit of a kerfuffle about this movie among Christians. Is the film biblical? Does it take too many liberties with the text? Why does it make me so uncomfortable? Does it represent the story accurately? Does it represent people of faith positively? Please tell me I MUST KNOW before I accidentally give $17 to the devil when I buy my ticket!
That kerfuffle is partly why I like the film so much. It’s making Christians ask some of those tough questions about the Bible. Is it more important to portray the text word-for-word or to capture the spirit of the story? Are those things mutually exclusive? What about those bits we gloss over in Sunday school? Noah getting off his face on wine isn’t a very good example of righteousness, so we usually skip that part, but it’s in there.
The main problem I have with much of the Christian criticism of the movie is that it’s basically selfish. It’s essentially:
1. How does this movie represent ME, as a person of faith?
2. Does this movie (made by an atheist, oh dear!) live up to MY standards and the special knowledge I have as a person of faith?
Obviously the movie isn’t about Christians (or Jews or Muslims, to whom this story is also important!), but it does raise questions about how faith is lived out. I actually think Noah is an important movie, partly, because it is made by a person with no faith. Aronofsky explores territory every other makers of biblical films have so far avoided—to their detriment.
That’s not even including the fact that although they are holy to followers of Abrahamic faiths, the biblical stories don’t belong exclusively to Christians, Muslims and Jews. The story of Noah isn’t important only because of the faithful; it has something to say to everyone, regardless of faith, and they are free to engage with it however they like. This movie opens up Noah’s story to anyone who cares to engage, and it vaults over this story’s traditional gatekeepers in the process. It seems to me that these gatekeepers are upset about it.
You don’t need special knowledge to read Noah’s story and be moved by it. You don’t need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour to imagine what it was like on the ark, or wonder why in this story God would prescribe such a calamitous event in response to a broken world.
Noah—and Adam and Moses and Samuel and Isaiah and Jesus and John and Paul—are for everybody. They are important to me. Perhaps I could go so far as to say that understanding them is vital to understanding me—but they don’t belong to me.
The Bible is for everyone, and if you can open it up a little wider in a thoughtful and imaginative way, as Aronofsky has done with this film, then I applaud that effort.