My husband and I watched Noah, and we both were somewhat shocked with Hollywood’s take on the infamous, legendary Old Testament story. *** WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. SO, IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE MOVIE AND PLAN ON WATCHING, PLEASE STOP READING. THANK YOU. ***
Personally, I found the movie – as a whole – entertaining. As a biblical story movie, I found it… confusing? Shocking? Out of context? However, I’m not here to discuss religion, politics, or anything that has two sides that anyone and everyone can actually start feuding over. I want to look at Noah as a piece of visual, literary entertainment. Let’s start with the characters (as it’s truly the easiest to begin with):
Noah himself. As I have read the Christian Holy Bible (St. Joseph version, King James version, NLT version, and New King James version), I have this image of Noah: Old. White hair. Not very agile. Something like…
I was not really prepared for Russell Crowe’s Noah: Middle aged, bald, greying beard, quite a skilled fighter. I must admit, if we were 500 years old and look like Russell Crowe… I’ll have what he’s having! He looked AMAZING for his character’s age!
His personality is a bit different from what I recall as well. How I remember Noah (from the story), he was patient and kind and a family man and unwavering in his obedience to God until AFTER the flood when he sort of went into a drinking binge – which the movie did sort of cover in a weird, “I don’t get how he got so much wine” way, but I’ll touch on this later. In the movie, he was obedient, sure, but he had his bouts of doubt and questioning. He wasn’t very patient, and the family man aspect was sort of lop-sided in that he held his first born high and sort of spoiled the youngest and kind of tossed the middle child whichever way he saw fit. Not what I recall at all! The biggest “What the heck” moment for me: Noah willing to kill the twin girls (SPOILER!). Though, of course, he couldn’t bring himself to do it in the end, I do NOT recall Noah being so willing to kill anyone in the story I read!
In the end (for Noah), I actually enjoyed Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Noah. He was intense and full of heart-wrenching emotion. His Noah did what he had to do for justice and right to prevail over corruption and wrong. He saved all the innocent creatures, and he even accepted the fact that his family would die in the end to return the world to its natural state. *sigh* For one person to be that rightful and accepting of humanity’s final fate is scary and admirable all at the same time. It brought on conflicting emotions for me: I hated him for being so “this is what needs to be done,” but I really did admire him for seeing how corrupted man had become and for accepting everything as he saw it. (I’m telling you, I was so torn apart by Noah.)
Before I keep going on and on about Noah as a character, Tubal-cain who? Ray Winstone who played Tubal-cain makes such a good villain. However, my first reaction when I heard his voice was one of utter glee. He was my favorite “knight” (Bors) in King Arthur (with Clive Owen as Arthur), and he voiced my favorite hero of all time, Beowulf. Back to Noah: My husband and I just looked at each other when Tubal-cain came out, and I was so lost. The way I understood the character: He’s a direct descendant of Cain.
Naturally, you need a villain in a good movie, and Tubal-cain was exactly that: pure corruption in man form.
Moving right along, my last target is Percy Jackson. I mean… Logan Lerman’s Ham. Were you expecting me to touch on Emma Watson’s Ila? Sorry to bust your bubble, but I have no qualls about Ila, except for maybe there were too little scenes with her/of her? I adore Emma Watson. Back to Percy – I mean – Ham. (I struggle so hard to erase Percy Jackson from my head whenever I see Lerman in ANYTHING.) First of all, Ham was not this questionable in the story until AFTER the flood. He was only cursed because of one incident about seeing Noah’s drunken nakedness.
Then again, I guess if you have to have one character who flip-flops between right-wrong-right-wrong-right, the middle child is the best person for the job. His melancholy, undecisive personality throughout the entire movie was so spot on that I’m safe to say that I hated Ham more than Tubal-cain, not because of his selfishness when it came to having a “wife” but rather his inability to make his own decisions and stand on his own two feet. Yes, he did walk away from the family in the end, but it took him the entire length of the movie to do so. Out of all the characters (not counting the youngest son), Ham was the weakest link, and I had high hopes for him – though I already knew his family’s fate thanks to the Bible. *sigh* They had already changed a lot about the story, why not Ham’s story?
I’m not going to criticize the entire story line. Rather, I want to just brush on a few pieces of the movie.
The “Fallen Angels” or “Rock Watchers” or “Guardians” – in my opinion – is something from the Wiccan/Pagan belief of Elementals. They can either protect mankind or destroy mankind. I found it interesting that they were part of Noah as Elementals are not something accepted by Christianity, but you must have some aspect of magic to have the ark built so fast and a way to keep the bad people out and off the ark, right? With this line of thinking, the Elemental persona of the “Fallen Angels” are the most perfect way of doing this without Noah and his family doing all the manual labor. It actually sort of made more sense in my head. I’ve always wondered as a child: How did Noah haul all that wood to make the ark when all he had to build it was himself and his sons? Fascinating interpretation and use of Elementals… “Fallen Angels”.
I also enjoyed that the movie gave the “Fallen Angels” a loophole to win God’s grace back: Help Noah save the animals, sacrifice yourself to protect the ark, and you can come home to Heaven. There’s a feel good story in itself!
The flood itself is an event that caused my head to spin. Water came exploding out of the ground! I would’ve believed the movie a little bit more if a tsunami came crashing in from “stage right” and swept everyone and the ark away. That much water just can’t come blowing out of the ground…. Then again, I may be thinking too scientifically. Noah’s God did have a hand in sprouting an entire forest to build the ark, and it was HIS idea/plan to flood the world of man’s corruption. It’s only fair if HE stepped in to spew water whichever way HE pleased, right? It’s still a little bit unbelievable, and I like being able to sort through little things like that.
Last piece that I found absolutely wonderful: sleeping smoke. When I first heard (and understood) the story of Noah and his Ark, I had asked my Sunday school teacher: “How did Noah stop the animals from killing and eating each other?” (I was 7 and understood how the circle of life works.) She couldn’t quite figure out how to explain it, and she told me – and I truly do remember this, because I didn’t believe her – “Because God told the animals not to.” My 7-year-old brain never let go of that question. It’s just that if God told the animals not to eat each other, the carnivores would have starved to death, and then what? *blank stare*
This movie answered the 7-year-old in me, and I was utterly thrilled to have a reasonable, logical answer to my childhood question. They used whatever herbs to create an incense that put all the animals to sleep and kept them asleep. A smoke-induced coma! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? *claps*
All in all, Noah has adventure, has a pinch of romance, has a bit of coming-of-age story, has an element of magic, and a sense of hope that all story lovers want to see. Overall, I give Noah:
3 out of 5 clappers
(a) Twisting an old story anew
(b) Breaking the accepted interpretations
(c) Filling in the blanks left empty by the old story