7 Ways Noah Turns the Bible Upside Down
I had no intention of seeing Darren Aronofsky's Noah, a film releasing wider this weekend "inspired by the [biblical] story of Noah." Though initial glimpses excited me, revelations regarding Aronofsky's stark deviations from the biblical narrative blunted my interest. Word on the street was that Aronofsky sought to recast Noah in an environmentalist mold and completely abandon key biblical themes.
Thursday night, I found myself out and about with a couple of hours to kill and decided to catch an early screening. As it turns out, everything you've heard about the heresy in Noah proves true. Here are 7 ways Aronofsky's Noah upends the Bible (major spoilers):
7. Return of the Ents
Yeah, you read that right. Ents, the giant walking trees from The Lord of the Rings. What, you don't remember those in the Bible?
Okay, these aren't ents precisely. They are "Watchers," fallen angels who rebelled against "the creator" (God makes no appearance in the film) by descending to Earth to help mankind. They lumber about in clumsy stone bodies as punishment for their disobedience.
6. Demons Are the Good Guys
Another word for fallen angel is demon. In the Bible, demons are the minions of Satan and enemies of God.
In Aronofsky's Noah, the demonic "Watchers" are the good guys. They came to Earth against the creator's will to aid mankind, teaching the sons of Cain how to make use of creation and build industrial cities which sprawl across the globe.
The sons of Cain turn against these rock demons and attempt to hunt them to extinction. Fortunately, Methuselah, Noah's grandfather, fought off the industrial hoard with a magical flaming sword.
Decades later, Noah and his family flee from the sons of Cain into rock-demon territory and come under their protection. Ever wonder how Noah and his family managed all the heavy lifting involved in building the ark? Rock demons, according to this film.
A riveting scene featured in trailers for the film portrays a standoff between Russell Crowe's Noah and Ray Winstone's Tubal-cain. The evil king tells Noah, "I stand with men at my back, and you stand alone and defy me?" Noah remains steadfast and soberly replies, "I am not alone."
It's a great moment in the trailer which implies that Noah stands with God against the tyranny of men. But in the film, it plays out a little differently than expected. After Noah delivers the line, his army of rock demons pops up out of the ground. See, he's not alone. He's got rock demons.
5. Methuselah the Gray
I'm not kidding about Methuselah's magical flaming sword, one of the many ways Aronofsky's Noah better resembles a Final Fantasy video game than a bible story. Methuselah presents as a wizard or shaman, possessed of miraculous powers which lack any sort of explanation or context.
In one scene, Methuselah wills his great-grandson to sleep so that he and Noah can talk about the end of the world without upsetting the boy. In another, he heals the barren womb of his great-granddaughter-in-law with a "blessing."
4. Demons Can Be Redeemed
When it begins to rain, Tubal-cain and his industrial hoard march on the ark in a last-ditch attempt to seize it for themselves. An epic battle follows wherein Noah and his allied rock demons fend off waves of barbarous attackers.
Mighty though rock demons may be, the sheer number of attackers begins to overwhelm them. As the giants begin to fall, they burst forth from their rocky shells and rapture back to heaven. Apparently, demons can be redeemed.
3. Man's Fraudulent Dominion Over Earth
Aronofsky wastes no time beating his audience over the head with ecological themes. The film begins with a heavily modified account of creation, the ejection from Eden, and the history of man leading to Noah's time. The rock demons, or Watchers or whatever, instruct the sons of Cain in how to bring creation under their dominion. Noah, by contrast, rebukes his son Shem for plucking a small flower. "We take only what we need and can use."
Noah and his family eat roots and berries while the evil hoards hunt animals for meat. In one scene, Noah infiltrates Tubal-cain's camp in search of wives for this two youngest sons. He changes his mind when confronted by a vision of man greedily tearing apart a live animal to feast upon its raw flesh. The scene seeks to repulse, and succeeds. The vision prompts Noah to decide that his sons should not have wives, because man cannot be allowed to continue on Earth.
The biblical notion that man was created in God's image to hold dominion over the Earth is articulated only by Tubal-cain, and always as he's committing some atrocity. The film thus implies that the idea of man's dominion over creation was invented by man for evil purposes.
2. Noah Saved Innocent Animals
The above clip reveals Aronofsky’s revised reason for Noah to build an ark. “Our family has been chosen for a great task, to save the innocent… the animals,” Noah tells his family.
When one of his sons asks what makes the animals innocent, another beats him to the punch: “Because they still live as they did in the Garden [of Eden].”
From this we may infer that God regards animals as morally superior to human beings. In the clip, Noah adds, “I guess we get to start over too,” as if the involvement of his family were an afterthought secondary to God’s purpose. The film takes the notion even further, implying that God may have intended for Noah and his family to destroy themselves.
The Bible tells a different story. All creation shares the curse of sin, including animals. The flood surged as judgment against that sin, and Noah’s family was preserved in fulfillment of God’s covenant to provide salvation for mankind. To let Noah and his family parish, or to be flippant regarding the importance of their survival, would have been inconsistent with that eternally conceived plan of redemption.
1. Justice Yields to Mercy
Aronofsky challenges the biblical nature of God at every turn in his film. Among the many heresies, his presentation of justice may prove most offensive.
Noah adopts the conviction that all mankind must perish. Noah sees it as a matter of justice. "We broke the world," he tells his wife in reference to original sin and the "darkness" which possesses men to rape creation.
Noah becomes so convinced that all mankind must perish that he reacts to news of his barren daughter-in-law's miraculous pregnancy by pledging to murder the child upon its birth. The third act deals primarily with Noah stalking around the ark like Jack Nicholson's crazed novelist in The Shining, plotting the death of his own family.
In the end, an appeal to love breaks through Noah's resolve. He mercifully relents from his conviction to kill.
In the aftermath, he abandons his family and becomes a drunken deadbeat possessed by the sense that he failed the creator's assigned task. Resolution comes when his daughter-in-law convinces him that the creator gave Noah the choice to save humanity or not. "He let you decide whether there was anything left worth saving."
From a Christian theological standpoint, this completely upends the gravity of sin and the sovereignty of God in his redemptive plan. First, it imagines that justice can be sated by simply choosing mercy. That notion collapses as soon as we apply it to any real-world example. If someone murdered your loved one and got away with it because the judge decided to be "merciful," you would hardly feel as though justice had been served. Equally offensive, placing Noah in a position to choose whether or not mankind survives presents a creator who makes things up as he goes and doesn't really care whether we're redeemed or not.
All told, and as reactionary as it may seem to unbelievers, Noah proves truly demonic. It brims over with lies from the pit of hell regarding the natures of God, sin, man, and redemption. Time calls the film "better than the book," as I am sure many secular viewers will agree, because it neatly substitutes the Gospel with humanistic nature worship. It will offend only those who take the biblical narrative seriously, and provide false theological comfort to everyone else.
The unbiblical aspects of Noah are by no means fully documented here. Indeed, a thoroughly unbiblical film would seem to have been Aronofsky's goal from the start. View it with discernment, or not at all.
See also from John Boot: Noah's 5 Most Laugh-Out-Loud Qualities