3 Myths in the Noah Movie
The controversial Noah movie has been called biblically inaccurate, but visually stunning. Read this review to learn about the major problems with this movie.
Noah, starring Russell Crowe, has hit theaters.
Life, Hope & Truth published a blog post analyzing the film based on early reviews by individuals who had prescreened it: “Read This Before Seeing the Noah Movie.” The author of that blog, Arnold C. Mendez Sr., is one of our experts on scientific issues and has studied and taught the Noah story for many years. On March 30 I was able to view Noah on behalf of Life, Hope & Truth. After viewing the film, I would like to offer our readers further analysis of this controversial movie.
The bottom line
Darren Aronofsky’s Noah can be summarized very simply: manipulation and mockery. The film very blatantly manipulates the story of Noah by adding many fictional elements that go far beyond reasonable dramatic license.
Don’t let Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Noah form your mental image of this important man. Read about the real Noah in Genesis 6-9.Rob Moore, the vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, was very candid about the film: “The single most important piece of information was that this was not attempting to be a 100% retelling of the story from Genesis. … A 100% literal retelling would not make a great film” (“Films Are His Flock,” Time, March 31, 2014, p. 55). In other words, this was an attempt to make money and entertain people—not to educate them about the Bible.
Unlike the movie, our mission is to help our audience accurately understand the Bible and its message. So, when something like this comes along that could lead to a distorted view of the Bible, we feel responsible to speak out.
Three major myths of the movie
Though it would take many more words to correct every element of dramatic license in Noah, there are three major problems we feel compelled to address.
Myth 1: The Old Testament God hated human beings
In the movie, God is portrayed as impersonal and distant from human beings—cold, harsh and vindictive. In fact, the movie presents “the Creator” as more concerned for the earth and animal life than human beings.
This highlights a very common misperception about the Bible that many, even religious people, have: that the God of the Old Testament was harsh, angry and impersonal. Jesus Christ of the New Testament is often contrasted as the antithesis of the Old Testament God.
This idea is totally false!
God did not send the Flood to wipe out humankind in order to restart with animals. The reason God destroyed the majority of humanity was because most of humanity had become morally corrupt down to the core of their being (Genesis 6:5). This was demonstrated by the earth being “filled with violence” (verses 11, 13). The movie did do a reasonably decent job of showing the violence of this time. Imagine if isolated modern events of extreme violence (such as the Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide) were happening continually on a worldwide scale. That is what the pre-Flood world was like.
The reason God destroyed human beings was not because He hated them—it was because He loved them and saw them destroying themselves and succumbing to Satan’s traps that would ultimately lead to eternal death. The Bible shows humans as the pinnacle of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-31). God deeply loves humanity (Jeremiah 29:11; John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4). He desires human beings to live according to His beneficial laws, which are designed to bring safety, peace and happiness (Psalm 1:1-6; Isaiah 48:17-18; Matthew 19:17).
Sadly, the pre-Flood world took depravity, evil and violence to such an extreme level that God felt it necessary to destroy this civilization and start fresh with Noah and his family—because of the way they lived their lives (Genesis 6:8, 13). God did not, as the movie implies, intend to destroy Noah and his family after they saved the animals.
Some are confused about how God could destroy millions of lives through the Flood and still be a God of love (1 John 4:8). It is important to remember that God has a different perspective of human life than we do. We see death as permanent. But God, as the Creator of life, can restore that life! The Bible reveals that a future time is coming when all who ever lived—including those who died in the Flood—will be raised from the dead and live again (John 5:28; Hebrews 11:19; Revelation 20:12). Read “God to Destroy Mankind, Part 2.”
So don’t fall for the myth that the God of the Old Testament was a distant and vengeful God who hated human beings. The fact is that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same God! Jesus Christ was the God who dealt with people in the Old Testament.
Myth 2: Giant rock angels helped Noah
One of the more bizarre myths of Noah is the strange-looking beings that the movie called “the Watchers.” The movie explained that these were angels who originally were tasked with protecting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned and were rejected by God, these angels defended and tried to help Adam and Eve. God, in His anger that the angels were helping human beings, cast them to the earth and encrusted them in mud and stone. In despair, they continued to live on earth as hybrid rock/spirit giants—now hating human beings.
The movie portrays these Watchers helping Noah build the ark, defending Noah against his enemies and even fighting an epic battle with armies of human beings trying to overtake the ark as the Flood began!
Great fantasy fiction! But complete myth.
Noah was told to “make yourself an ark of gopherwood,” and he did as he was told (Genesis 6:14, 22). He didn’t have rock angels helping him.
The Bible does describe fallen angels—called demons. These were the third of the angels who followed Lucifer (Satan) in his rebellion (Revelation 12:3-4). Satan and the demons rebelled long before humans were ever created. The Bible does not reveal any other category of angels “falling” (like the movie’s Watchers) after the creation of man. In fact, the idea of God punishing angels for helping human beings is diametrically opposed to the truth. The fallen angels, led by Satan, hate human beings (1 Peter 5:8).
The Bible does talk about angelic beings called “watchers.” The Bible gives us little detail about these angels, but we do know that they are described as “holy ones” and interact with mankind by “coming down from heaven” (Daniel 4:13, 17, 23). They are nothing like the Watchers of the movie. To learn more about the angelic realm, read our article on angels.
Myth 3: Noah was a deranged killer
Without giving too many details of the film away, Noah (as portrayed by Russell Crowe) was a very complex character. At the beginning of the film, Noah seems like a very gentle, environmentally friendly, animal-loving, family man.
As the movie proceeds toward, during and after the Flood, things change! In simple terms, Noah goes insane. He becomes convinced that he himself is just as evil as the rest of humanity (because he has a vision of himself eating meat). While on the ark, he devises a plan for his family to methodically kill one another in order to destroy humanity for good. When he discovers his son’s wife is expecting, Noah is determined to murder the baby if it is a girl.
Noah becomes almost completely deranged and alienated from his family for a major portion of the movie.
But the Bible’s description of Noah is diametrically opposite to the movie’s portrayal. The Noah of the Bible is described as “a just man,” who “walked with God” and was “righteous” (Genesis 6:9; 7:1). The Bible juxtaposes Noah’s character with the violent nature of the rest of humanity. The real Noah was a peaceful man who loved people—and especially God. He is even called a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). This implies that Noah preached and tried to save people from the coming flood!
The real Noah never was under the impression that he had to kill his family in order to wipe out humanity. The real Noah did not view God as the distant, angry Creator, but had a deep and close relationship with God. The real Noah properly cared for animals, but also sacrificed animals to God (Genesis 8:20). The Bible does not at all indicate that Noah was a vegetarian.
The point to our readers: Don’t let Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Noah form your mental image of this important man. Read about the real Noah in Genesis 6-9.
Manipulation and mockery
Yes, there is a lot to criticize about Noah.
The errors and myths that it propagates are major. Though the movie accurately portrayed the violence of the pre-Flood world and the worldwide nature of the Flood, the majority of the themes of Noah are a manipulation of the Bible. Completely changing the character of the true God and one of His great servants is mockery. Of course, this is just a movie. In a few weeks it will be old news. The key lesson to learn from the Noah movie is that we must know and understand what the Bible really says—in order “to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). Life, Hope & Truth and Discern magazine exist to help you fulfill this scripture!
For an overview of the Noah story according to the Bible, read our article “Noah and the Flood.”
Photo courtesy of Paramout Pictures.