I won’t go so far as to say I LOVED the Noah movie. (My husband and I agree Noah’s near-total-breakdown at the end was just too much…)
But, I want to stress: I don’t think it’s technically “unbiblical.” And that’s what I found so intriguing about Aronofsky’s script.
He took the bare bones of the Noah story (which is just a few chapters in Genesis), and basically stayed true to everything the Bible says happened. But he went as far outside the box as he could imagine, when reading “between the lines.”
Example (*spoiler*): The Bible states multiple times that the wives of Noah’s three sons were aboard the ark. Lots of Christians were upset that Aronofsky left two of the sons wife-less. (“Only six people were aboard in his version!”)
But that’s just not true…because–surprise–one of the women is pregnant, and she gives birth to twin girls on the ark. The twins’ mother tells Noah, “God has provided what we needed,” implying the babies will act as wives for Noah’s younger sons when they’re older.
Now, is that probably what happened? No. It’s really not likely at all. But, it’s “technically” possible…and that’s what makes it so interesting. Creativity is interesting.
I respect creativity.
The same goes for Aronofsky’s solution for the very valid question: How did Noah care for all those animals for months and months? And exactly what is a “fallen angel?” Also–who’s to say there one of the evil men didn’t hitch a ride for a few weeks before being discovered? There’s no reason to assume that happened–but there’s no way to argue otherwise.
You may have different theories about what the Bible DOESN’T say…but I believe there’s value in being challenged by the more wild imaginations among us…
When we get too familiar with the standard interpretation of a story, it starts to lose its flavor. Every once in awhile, a gifted story-teller comes along and suggests plausible details which breathe new life into the tale. He makes us realize once again that those old, familiar caricatures were real people with real struggles.
But, over time, we honestly forget that many events from the Bible probably looked quite different from the image in our heads. I think ALL of us are going to be surprised when our eyes are opened to the Whole Story. And, in the meantime, we fight so hard to keep our comfortable, sacrosanct versions of Bible stories…taking for granted what used to be awe-inspiring…magical…almost-unbelievable…
The real problem most people have with the new Noah flick is that it challenged a lot of things we just KNOW about the story:
-All the plants/animals before the flood looked pretty much like they do today.
-The fallen angels (“Nephilim”) didn’t help Noah build his ark, and they certainly didn’t look like THAT.
-God spoke audibly to Noah; he never struggled with doubt or confusion about his purpose because God made everything crystal clear.
-The rest of humanity was so depraved they didn’t believe in God at all. They mocked Noah as a crazy person. Nobody wanted to come aboard the ark because they didn’t believe there was a flood coming…
But, when angry Christians crack open the Bible to explain the problems with Aronofsky’s Noah, they struggle. The best they can do is complain his details are really far-fetched. (Which is true.) But, I just have to ask, is that completely bad?
Because, personally, I appreciated the chance to see Noah through a lens I haven’t used since I was a child…to be inspired by the possibilities, once again, of any tale about the All-Powerful-Creator-Interacting-with-Someone-Like-Me.
When God is involved, shouldn’t we be surprised sometimes?
Humans tend to connect the Bible’s dots like this:
Aronofsky connected them like this:
Truly, I understand “probability” and “accuracy” and people arguing that we-shouldn’t-add-outrageous-details-that-God-didn’t-include. I understand being worried a non-believer is mocking a text he doesn’t view as sacred.
But, can’t we see any value in being a little imaginative with the Scripture–or do we resent anyone who even makes us consider our history from a brand new perspective?
In my opinion, you have to go pretty wild to shake people out of their assumptions with a story that has been around for centuries. Aronofsky did that. And–no–I don’t believe his account is exactly what happened (or even close to it in some cases).
But neither is my version of the story.
Being challenged by such extreme plot points reminded me to Think Big–even if we still find out some day we were wrong. The God who walked on water and raised people from the dead loves surprises. I don’t think He has finished revealing some…
Thanks to the creative license taken by Aronofsky (and the brain-teasing effect the movie had on me), I’ve come up with the Noah Game. It’s an exercise in imagination–to think outside-the-lines.
Take any chunk of Scripture…or a well-known poem or song lyric…and connect the dots Aronofsky-style. You know what I mean, right?! Give me the “REAL” story behind the written words, that most people would be surprised to learn.
For example, did you know that Mary Magdalene actually traveled with Jesus and the other disciples, and witnessed many miracles such as the Feeding of the 5,000? (This little stretch-of-Scripture was included in Son of God. Interestingly, I didn’t hear nearly as much complaint about the liberties taken in that movie…)
But, maybe the Mary Magdalene tid-bit isn’t quite imaginative enough to ruffle Christian feathers. We need to go bigger! Crazier! Not this:
Just one rule: You can’t include details which clearly, definitively contradict Scripture. (For example, you can’t say “Mary wasn’t really a virgin” or “There were only 9 disciples”) If the Bible says it happened, it happened. But, if the Bible is silent, go crazy.
How would you retell the story of David and Bathsheba? (Or, if you have a brilliant retelling of another story, go for it.) Let’s play the Noah Game.