Having devoted valuable time and bandwidth to God Is Not Dead, it is, I suppose, behoovenly for me to say just a bit about Noah. These days, of course, I seldom get to see movies that aren't streaming on Netflix, so I'm no more likely to get out ot see Noah than God Is Not Dead, nevertheless, in both cases I'm fascianted by the zeitgeist surrounding them.
So, what to say about Noah? Well first of all, I have a great deal more faith that it's likely to be a good movie, directed as it is by Black Swan and Pi director Darren Aronofsky. All the preview footage I've seen suggests that it's a visually stunning and cinematically innovative movie.
Also, it appears to have garnered the ire of some members of the evangelical crowd, apparently because it "changes" the Noah story in some ways. Of course, "changing" the story is both permissible and necessary in a Biblical epic, and in fact has been done in every Biblical epic from as far back as DeMille's The Ten Commandments. Certainly every single solitary Jesus movie ever filmed has taken some degree of liberty with the Gospel accounts, no where more jarringly than in the beloved-by-evangelicals violence porn of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Some other evangelicals are upset with the movie for a different reason, namely that it's too close to the biblical narrative, portraying as it does a scene of Noah's (entirely Biblical) drunkenness.
All of this may, suggests Jonathan Merrit, be a big mistake on the part of evangelicals, causing them to miss the boat on what may wind up being the signature Biblical epic of the first part of the 21st century:
In order to engage with “Noah,” Christians must recognize that artistic liberties are inevitable whenever a story is transferred from one medium to another. What Aronofsky has done is similar to Rembrandt inserting himself into “The Raising of the Cross.” The Bible obviously doesn’t mention Rembrandt lifting the cross with the executioners more than a millennium earlier, but the artist was making a deeper point. Christians traveling to Munich could boycott the Alte Pinakothek museum where the painting is on display, but they would miss an opportunity for theological reflection.
Like other artistic endeavors drawing on biblical themes, “Noah” requires that audiences actually think about symbols and forms. Aronofsky adds elements to Noah’s story, for example, that reflect the grief God must have felt over having to destroy creation. The movie doesn’t get every detail right, but it captures the spirit of the scriptural narrative and the character of God displayed therein.
Tony Jones has seen the movie, and loved it, viewing it as Aronofsky's own Misrash on the Noah story:
This movie is magical realism on film. And I loved that part. It’s a retelling of one part of the Bible’s pre-history. Anything before Abraham is pre-history, people. It’s the mythical framework for the rest of the history of Israel, and as such, Aronofsky has a lot of latitude in telling the story. And he took that latitude, in spades. Any student of the Bible will have to get over the fact that only one of Noah’s three sons has a wife on the ark, but since that’s central to the conflict on the boat, you can see why Aronofsky did that. Also, the animals are quickly marginalized with a hallucinatory smoke that doesn’t affect the humans in the least. But if you get hung up on that, you probably don’t like pretty much anything in the Bible. Other non-biblical choices are more easily overlooked.
I loved it. I cried. I actually cried. And if you love the Bible, I bet you’ll love Noah, too.
Tony offers a lot of plot details in his review, but does not reveal the outcome of what is the actual spiritual core of the film -- Noah's crisis of faith in the aftermath of the flood. This is the thematic hook on which the movie rises or falls, and I suspect that the very idea that Noah may experience any kind of a crisis is at the heart of evangelical objections to the movie.
In the end, I think Merrit is right in suggesting that the real objection to this film is that Aronofsky didn't "kiss the ring" of the evangelical opinion leaders in the runup to its release, treating it, not as a theological sledgehammer or ideological football, but as a work of art, not "Christian kitsch," and conservative Christians just can't have that.