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Noah the movie: not recommended

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Noah, dir. by Darren Aronofsky, with Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, and Anthony Hopkins; Paramount Pictures, 2014

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The long-awaited movie Noah will be out in theaters this evening. As a Christian and a creation advocate and reporter, this Examiner recommends you give this movie a pass.

What the Noah movie shows

In the last twenty-four hours, two critics have published instructive reviews of the Noah movie.

Paganism...

First to write was Ben Shapiro, editor of Breitbart.com, who writes for its "Big Hollywood" division. Ben Shapiro is, therefore, the chief movie critic at Breitbart.com. "A perversely pagan mess!" he called it. To begin with, the chief sin in the movie was not any sin a person might commit against one's own body. Nor was it any sin a person might commit against another person (murder, lying, cheating, stealing). No, the sin Darren Aronofsky and the script writers worried about, was pollution. And not the obvious pollution of discharging toxic or radioactive waste into the air, land and water. To Aronofsky, human beings themselves are the pollutant. And any act of civilization, from city building to taking resources to build cities, is ipso facto pollution. This continues an often-heard theme: a war against humanity.

To make the point even more forcefully: Noah, after he disembarks from his Ark near the end, wonders whether he ought to kill his own grandchildren to make sure such pollution will never happen again.

The worst part, according to Shapiro: God does not bear mention. Noah refers to "the Creator." But his instructions to build the Ark play out like a hallucination, not a direct Message from God. And the Global Flood becomes, not a punishment for man's inhumanity to man, but a revolt against man for encroaching on nature. And for nature read wildness.

...meets science fiction and fantasy

Erick Erickson, at RedState.com, dismissed the obvious environmentalism. Maybe he believes Shapiro is too sensitive. After all, Shapiro picks "five disasters the environmentalists blame on American industry."

But Erickson found other problems. Simply put, Darren Aronofsky's Noah is not a Biblical story at all. It is bad science fiction and fantasy, with Biblical names for its heroes and villains. Adam and Eve become extraterrestrial transplants who take on corrupt human form after they eat "The Apple." Methuselah is a wizard wielding a flaming sword. (Peter Jackson, call your lawyers! Copyvio!) The serpent in the Garden sheds his skin, which is a powerful magic talisman. The Nephilim, whom King James' translators called "giants," have six arms, are covered with igneous rock, and volunteer to build the Ark. Tubal-cain, son of Lamech the Murderer, himself murders Lamech the Sethite and rules as king of the last antediluvian kingdom. King Tubal-cain even stows away aboard the Ark to make more mischief after the disembarkation. On and on it goes. This Examiner, reading between the lines of Erickson's review, counts at least twenty-five statements that any student of the Bible knows are false, or at least irreconcilable with the Biblical narrative. (Or even with the mechanics of how the Global Flood must have broken out; more on that below.)

In short, Darren Aronofsky's Noah is not repeat not a dramatization of the life of the real Noah. It is a cheap remake of James Cameron's Avatar, with a little thrown in from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings cycle. (And it does not constitute fair use by any reasonable standard whatsoever.)

An unrealistic Flood model

From television trailers and film clips shown to introduce television reviews, one can figure out the Global Flood model Aronofsky uses. It borrows one concept, oddly enough, from Walter T. Brown's Hydroplate Theory, and only one: a subcrustal ocean. And Aronofsky must not have read Brown's book. In Noah, the subcrustal ocean breaks out at many points on the earth's surface, not in a long seam. The result would have turned the earth's crust into Swiss cheese! And the rain is not more serious than the kind of rain one might see in a modern hurricane. It is not the concrete-wall-dissolving rain that the original Hebrew word connotes.

Aronofsky could have found material enough for at least an hour of non-stop action footage, had he read Brown's book and taken true insights from it. Instead he almost tells his audience, "I won't even try to make realistic a narrative we all know is phony!"

What a biblical epic should be

If one is going to dramatize a story from the Bible, one is obliged to get it right. Aronofsky complains that the Bible says little about the life of Noah. But what the Bible does say, Aronofsky contradicts! Noah was a friend of God, and God was his Friend. Noah did not need to take a mind-altering drug to get a vision of the Ark! God spoke to Noah directly.

And the Apostle John, in his Revelation, twice warns his readers not to partake of mind-altering substances. The word pharmakeia, that King James' translators mis-rendered sorcery, actually means the use and abuse of hallucinogens to alter the state of consciousness. Yet that is exactly what Noah does in Aronofsky's film.

Aronofsky stole the names of Noah and other characters out of the Bible, and grafted them onto his own narrative. Had he treated any other work of literature with such disrespect, he would face a lawsuit, in a court of competent national jurisdiction, for copyright violation. He gets away with it in this case, only because the Bible text itself is in the public domain.

The assistant pastor of a church in northern New Jersey, whose name this Examiner shall not mention out of courtesy, has often said he refuses to attend a public screening of any motion picture purporting to tell a story out of the Bible. (Nor indeed any motion picture, perhaps for the same reason the ancient Hebrews refused to attend performances in Herod's Theater in Caesaria Maritima.) This Examiner could scarcely blame him for giving Darren Aronofsky's Noah a pass.

And the producers should change the names of their characters and even the name of the world the story takes place on. Even that might not suffice for a discerning viewer to take it seriously. But at least they would not be guilty of such outrageous violation of copyright and common sense.

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