Noah #noahmovie #russellcrowe
So there’s a lot of stuff going on but Julia and I ended up hanging out and going to the movies today. We’re not getting back together or anything like that this is just part of being there for each other as friends and looking out for Little Tony and all that. So anyway, we went to see ‘Noah’.
Let me begin by saying I actually really enjoy Russell Crowe movies. ‘Master and Commander’ was terrific and ‘Gladiator’ remains one of my all time favorite historical-ish epics; the historical accuracy of ‘Gladiator’ can be understood by imagining a film made two thousand years from now about the year 1999, when Abraham Lincoln and Batman teamed up to defeat Hitler and save the Ewoks. That’s how awesome ‘Gladiator’ is; it is the movie Romans would have made about themselves if they could have made movies. ‘Noah’ pretty much does to the Book of Genesis what ‘Gladiator’ did to Roman history; turning the Gracchi Brothers into one guy and shifting him forward two hundred years isn’t much different from turning Methuselah into Obi Wan Ka-Gandalf. Except probably that nobody cares about the Gracchi nearly as much as people care about the Bible. That would probably explain that one lady who stormed out of the theater screaming about how the film was an ‘abomination against God’.
What struck me as strange is that she had waited until nearly four fifths of the film had passed before storming out; I thought that the giant rock monsters whom Noah befriended in the early scenes had already established that the movie was going to be straight-up blasphemy by conservative standards. Which is also strange because the film explicitly presents a creationist interpretation of the story for the most part; the world is literally different before the Deluge in that stars are visible in the daytime sky, there are no natural carnivores, and the attention to the details of the many apologists who have rationalized the pragmatic problems Noah would have faced has clearly been paid in full. This makes the deviations more glaring and puzzling; they get every detail right in the strange coda where Noah passes out drunk and naked but ignore essential facts of the story to create artificial tension and fulfill the demands of formula. The grafting of the story of the terrible test that Abraham faced onto Noah’s tale does work in terms of communicating the essential truth of the myth even as it is the largest deviation of all from the Genesis account. In this, there’s no surprise to me that this was what most likely sent the woman shrieking from the theater.
I was not offended and enjoyed the film for all of its goofy grandeur; I appreciated that it was trying to embrace the Noah myth head on and this is probably what is going to confound many who see it. On the one hand, a Young Earth Creationist should be pleased to see their vision of a literal reading of Genesis brought to the screen with state of the art special effects and a big name cast. On the other hand, a Young Earth Creationist seeing their vision brought to life should be embarrassed to realize their theology is less sophisticated than a game of Dungeons and Dragons. It is an elegant demonstration that a literal reading of an ancient sacred text is bound to produce a confusing muddle of nonsense.