Perhaps the reason that I was so eager to see by Russell Crowe’s new movie, Noah, was the unanimity among a few very conservative Muslims, evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics that this was a study in misanthropy and a perversion of Genesis with an extreme left wing environmentalist agenda.
And then there was a piece in the Wall Street Journal quoting Director and self-proclaimed atheist Darren Aronofsky “bragging” that this was the “least biblical” of any Bible story ever. Now that I have seen the film, I understand the media chatter about misanthropy and ‘extreme’ environmental agendas.
I disagree with all of them.
I was prepared to like the movie- despite the critics- (or perhaps because of them) and I expected to see huge and spectacular cinematography. And I was not disappointed.
A long-time fan of Russell Crowe and of Anthony Hopkins I expected also to see splendid portrayals of Noah and of Methuselah. Again, I was not disappointed.
But I did not expect to be plunged deeply into Noah’s psyche in the starkly visceral and profound way in which I was. That was surprising and more than intriguing to me. The man Noah played by Crowe is familiar to me: provocative yet all too familiar ground for me in my journey from atheism to Roman Catholicism- he vividly portrays the dark night of the soul- his anguish is raw, startling and his courage is ugly.
We know very little about this Bible story; we are given the sketchiest of details. Therefore the room for an imaginative interpretation of the ‘last just man’ on earth is there. And this man is someone we know…we can go where he goes, kicking and screaming but we can get there.
Taking the claims of anti-Biblical and anti-God, extreme-environmentalist agenda, misanthropic and supporting an atheistic viewpoint (there are more but these are the four I find most intriguing) one by one:
- Impugning the film Noah as “anti-Biblical” and anti-God is curious to me. The elements of the extremely sketchy details given in Genesis are all there in the movie. In fact; the screen-writer with the implied or explicit consent of the atheistic director bothered to research the Book of Enoch to read about the ‘Watchers’ and the ‘Guardians’ who are brilliantly depicted in the film.
- That the movie has an extreme environmentalist agenda seems almost comical if it weren’t such a patently political criticism. The dialogue which Crowe is given to describe the task he has been given is sparse but beautiful when he explains to his family that the fate of creation rests on their care for these creatures.
- Misanthropic: Crowe’s interpretation of God’s will for the fledgling remnant of creation was totally realistic to this Christian of now something like 16 years. I had never thought about the man Noah…of what it would have been like to have been judged by God as the “last just man” on earth; of the awe of that and the sheer horror of the realization that he too was a sinner, he too had broken the world . ‘The world was broke’ say the Watchers..’.it was broke by man’. Once I did, I could get to the place he did…so could you.
- The director’s ostensible desire to create the ‘most anti-Biblical’ movie ever produced was not achieved. Crowe’s Noah is a brilliant portrayal of a man who trusts His God, is accustomed to hearing Him and who works desperately to do His will but when confronted by His silence…finds himself alone in the darkness of his soul.