“Noah” is an insult to Bible-believing Christians, an insult to the character of Noah, and most of all, an insult to the God of the Bible. As a result, I believe Hollywood will have a much harder time in marketing future biblically themed movies to Christians.
- Ken Ham, president of Answers In Genesis, Time Magazine March 28, 2014
In 1957, Paramount Pictures released The Ten Commandments.
It was an instant blockbuster.
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille and famously starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne De Carlo, Edward G. Robinson, Vincent Price (all huge Hollywood stars of their day – well, except for the then little known Heston, who became a huge star specifically for his role as Moses), a literal “cast of thousands,” and filmed on the largest, most expensive set ever constructed, The Ten Commandments became one of most financially successful movies ever made.
The film chronicles the life of Moses – the principal character in the Biblical book of Exodus.
The Ten Commandments has been released four times in theaters, and continues to be popular on cable movie channels to this very day. In 1999 the film was declared “culturally significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry and thus the original cellulose print is preserved in a refrigerated vault beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains near Culpeper, Virginia in a former Cold War nuclear bunker nowadays known as the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation.
The film is still popular, particularly with Christians – strangely including fundamentalists.
A quick web search shows numerous listings for the movie, it’s particularly popular on Easter weekend, especially on large screen TVs in church basements.
Despite DeMille’s efforts towards historical accuracy, the film takes a number of liberties with the story.
In an interesting note, the Christian Bible doesn’t contain much detail regarding the life of Moses, especially the first 30 years of his life, and so DeMille turned to another holy book that does, the Muslim Quran. DeMille also extensively used Jewish texts to fill out Moses’ biography.
And yet I’m unable to find any reference to a prominent Christian leader referring to DeMille’s epic as “an insult to Bible-believing Christians, an insult to the Character of [Moses], and most of all, an insult to the God of the Bible.”
Far from being insulted, Christians are perfectly willing to overlook the historical and/or biblical inaccuracies of the film, and in large part loved it.
Funny thing, that, don’t you think?
“Hey, God, you know, you’re kind of a dick when you’re in a movie with Russell Crowe and you’re the one with anger issues.”
— Bill Maher, Real Time with Bill Maher
Talking about the new Paramount Pictures movie Noah
“I think it’s time to bring back blasphemy laws.”
— Tristan Emmanuel, CEO of Freedom Press Canada Inc. BarbWire
In response to Bill Maher’s comment
Now, it’s quite likely that I’m the least religious or spiritual person you know, but I enjoy the hell (heh heh) out of the The Ten Commandments and the occasional biblically themed movie doesn’t offend me in the least (You want to offend me? Let Paul Verhoeven make another “adaption” of Robert Heinlein, there’s a special place waiting in hell for what he did to Starship Troopers).
And in that vein, I went to see the movie Noah.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the movie stars Russell Crowe in the titular role, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, and Ray Winstone as the baddy. Also if you pay very close attention, you just might recognize Nick Nolte’s gravelly voice emanating from, well, a pile of gravel.
It’s your basic feel good Old Testament Bible story. You know, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, they fall in love, there’s a large angry bearded man who spends a lot of time scowling mightily and shaking his fist, a bunch of people in robes who look like they’ve never heard of soap and water run around slaughtering each other for no particular reason, and then God kills everybody who’s left. Also, there’s a boat and some snakes. Amen.
I liked it.
It wasn’t great.
It wasn’t bad.
It’s certainly no Ten Commandments, but Noah is an entertaining movie with decent acting by a bunch of really attractive people (and Russell Crowe).
If I have a complaint, it’s that the movie depends heavily on CGI, unfortunately computer generated characters cost a lot of money and Aronofsky is no James Cameron when it comes to prying cash out of the studio, so Noah’s CGI is closer to the crappy cartoonish animation of The Hobbit than the believable and fully immersive Avatar, but I didn’t find it terribly distracting – though others apparently have. When it comes to CGI, you pays your money and you takes your chances, frankly, I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse (and I’m looking at you, I Am Legend).
But, of course, nobody cares about the acting or the special effects.
It’s the plot.
All Christians learn the story of Noah and his Ark early on. Heck, even if you’re not a Christian (or a member of the various other religions that incorporate a global flood myth), you’re familiar with the story. According to the generic Christian version, God gets fed up with sinful humanity and decides on a do-over. He tells Noah to build a big wooden boat and put several of each kind of animal onboard. Then God makes it rain for a month and drowns every single living thing on the planet except for Noah and his family and the animals on the Ark (and the fish, I guess). The Ark floats around for a year or so and eventually comes to rest on a mountaintop as the waters recede. Noah releases the animals, then the Ark’s crew spends the next several hundred years fornicating like hyperactive hamsters in an effort to repopulate the world. Now free of sin and properly chastised by God’s murderous wrath, the reborn human race lives happily ever after in Godly peace and pious enlightenment.
Okay, I might have just made up that last bit, but the rest of it is the generally accepted biblical version of the Noah story.
Like most of the Old Testament (and much of the new), it’s a damned grim story. And the only real lesson is that part where the faithful get to lay awake at night wondering if their deity might just up and decide to randomly off their narrow asses at any given moment so you’d better be good for goodness sake. Or something. Ok, maybe I’m not exactly clear on what the lesson is here.
Now, I’m sure that when the various parts of the Christian Bible were written, given the state of knowledge at the time, Noah’s story seemed like a perfectly plausible scenario. However, over the last thousand or so years we’ve learned a bit more about how our universe works, and the story of Noah and his big boat of salvation long ago started to show some significant problems. Even if you end every sentence with “God did it!” the story simply doesn’t hold water (Yep, I said it. I’m not sorry). No part of the Great Flood narrative works as anything other than a tall tale. None of it, from the volume of water to the geology to the timeframe to the number of animals to the staggering logistics to the amount of food and wastes to the utterly impossible task of one man and his kids building a rugged seaworthy ship the size of a World War II aircraft carrier out of wood using only primitive hand tools to the genetic limitations of the miniscule breeding pool to … well, it just goes on and on right up to the part where God completely and utterly fails to accomplish his stated goal of resetting humanity, since human nature of today is pretty much exactly the same as described in the Bible prior to the flood. Taking the story at face value and given the evidence at hand, it would appear that God brutally killed millions and millions of people for no reason whatsoever – and you sure would think He would have seen that coming, wouldn’t you? (What? There’s still sin? So I offed the unicorns for nothing? Motherfu…ur, I mean somebody is getting a plague of boils for this).
Beginning around the time of the Renaissance and the advent of empirical science, Christians started having to come to terms with the fact that not everything in their Bible could be taken literally – most especially the Great Flood. And a lot of Christians eventually became more or less comfortable with that idea and evolved (I’m not sorry) into the kind of people who don’t go around lighting other people on fire and whom you don’t mind having for neighbors or on your local school board.
But not all.
Young Earth Creationism, the belief that the earth is only 6000 years old and the Bible, usually a strict interpretation of the King James Version, has been around for a long time. But it really got going in America during the Reagan administration. Today anywhere between 40% and 50% of adults in the US identify with Young Earth Creationism and roughly 30% claim a literal interpretation of the Bible as history.
And the Great Flood is the entire foundation of Young Earth Creationism.
Everything depends on it, everything.
Without a literal interpretation of the biblical Deluge, all of Young Earth Creationism and its various offshoots simply falls apart.
It’s unsurprising therefore that Biblical literalists have gone to absolutely ridiculous lengths attempting to rationalize the irrational, up to and including incorporating dinosaurs into their narrative by putting coconut eating vegetarian Tyrannosaurs in the Garden of Eden and velociraptors on the Ark. And Creationists were willing to spend an enormous amount of money building a museum (and soon a supposed full sized and functional replica of the biblical Ark) in Kentucky.
And this, right here, is why they simply cannot tolerate a movie like Noah.
Young Earth Creationists have constructed a house of cards so flimsy and so utterly ludicrous, that should it be questioned in any way, should any deviation in belief be allowed to exist, should any adherent engage in anything but absolute blind belief, the entire structure will collapse of its own ridiculous weight.
Canadian Creationist Tristan Emmanuel wrote an article on the anti-gay site Barbwire and posted a video on YouTube entitled “Bill-asphemy” where he suggested that non-believers such as comedian Bill Maher, who did a humorous and irreverent review of Noah on his show, be publically whipped for not respecting fundamentalist Christian beliefs.
Christians should unanimously condemn Maher. There was a time when a generation of believers actually believed in defending the honor of God and would have done just that — condemn Maher. Back then Maher would have faced stiff penalties for his slanderous crimes against God and country. And the reasons were clear: slander the ultimate authority of a nation — God — and you ridicule the very foundation of its laws, values, public institutions and leadership.
Emmanuel went on to quote religious law from no less than the Massachusetts Bay Colony to describe what those “stiff penalties” should be:
“…everyone so offending shall be punished by imprisonment, not exceeding six months, and until they find sureties for good behaviours; by sitting in pillory; by whipping; boaring thorow the tongue, with a red hot iron; or sitting upon the gallows with a rope about their neck; at the discretion of the court…”
Whipping. The pillory. A hole bored through the tongue with a red hot iron. And the threat of hanging.
And you thought the Taliban was a bunch of assholes, eh? It would appear that they’ve got nothing on Canadian religious extremism, who knew, right?
Needless to say, Emmanuel was unhappy with Noah.
Creationist Ken Ham, he of the Bill Nye evolution debate and the shrill voice behind the aforementioned Creation Museum, called Noah “the worst film I’ve ever seen.”
Ham was aggrieved by the movie’s fallen angels (which admittedly did look a lot like the bastard offspring of the rock monster from Galaxy Quest and Treebeard from The Two Towers, but come on, you’ve got Adam and Eve chumming around with brontosaurs and you can’t handle a pile of magic rocks?), the depiction of the Ark itself which Ham didn’t think looked enough like the barn shaped renderings from junior Sunday school, and especially the movie’s liberal depiction of human sin. Despite the fact that nearly every scene involves human beings acting like complete assholes, for Ken Ham there just wasn’t enough greed and selfishness and plunder and debauchery and gluttony and rape and murder and cannibalism. And though the lead baddie repeatedly flouts biblical law to a degree that makes Bill Maher look like a rank amateur, Ham was upset because Noah liked animals better than people – because apparently God wouldn’t send a man who values animals above people as the guy to, you know, save all the animals.
But Ham was particularly put out by the movie’s portrayal of Noah as a religious lunatic:
Noah’s misanthropy is revealed many times in the film. For example, when the girlfriend of Noah’s son Ham is caught in a trap and is about to be overtaken by some marauders, Noah leaves the girl to die at their hands. The film’s Noah wants to totally destroy the human race and doesn’t want his sons to have children. In perhaps the most shocking part of the film, Noah plans to kill his unborn grandchild, the child of Shem’s wife, if it is a girl. As Noah values his animals on board more than people and rants about it, he becomes a psychopath. Hollywood’s Noah is not the righteous man described in Hebrews 11 and other scriptures.
For a guy who prides himself on being the world’s bestest Christian, Ham sure missed the boat on that one (still not sorry).
Look, Noah supposedly hears the voice of God telling him to drop everything and build a giant floating zoo. So he does, and it takes years. Decades. He meets angels. He sees miracles. The hand of God is upon him. He fills the Ark with animals, locks himself inside, and rides out the end of the world. And even with the dying screams of humanity echoing in his ears he remains resolute in his divine task – now you’ve got to figure that this guy is dedicated. He believes, man, he believes. And what’s God’s message to Noah here? Right, people suck. God is like Liam Neeson in Taken, I will find you and I will kill you! I’ll kill you all. And so, in the movie, Noah decides that he must commit murder in order to carry out God’s will. And the thing is that like any fundamentalist, he cannot be swayed by the voice of reason. His wife, his sons, his daughter in law, none of them can convince him that he’s wrong, that he’s acting like a deluded jackass – even though he obviously is.
No wonder Creationists like Ken Ham hate the movie.
Like Emmanuel, Ham complains that he can’t simply forbid people from seeing the movie. He recommends Young Earth Creationists track down any Christian who’s been exposed to the movie and “communicate biblical truths and undo the possible damage that might be caused by this sci-fi fantasy, one that is making a mockery of the Word of God and its true account of Noah, the Flood, and the Ark.”
I doubt Ham has much to worry about, if the comments under the World Net Daily’s review (Movie Depicts Evolution and Black Magic! Run for your lives, Everybody!) are any indication. Young Earth Creationists already know everything they need to know:
It is simply a badly done movie. Not seen it but I trust what I've heard.
I haven’t seen it, but I hate it! There’s that evidence based science creationists are so well known for.
I don't have to "see" it to know it's another piece of atheist garbage.
That’s not how you use quote marks. Here let me give you a proper example: Jeremiah 5:21, “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.” That clear it up?
Stay away from disgusting things like this... and that includes the many shows on TV that promote homosexuality. If it has homos in it, count me out. It's not an alternative life style, it's an abomination.
Hmmmm, maybe I missed that part where queer animals were led onto the Ark in fabulous pairs of same sex couples…
Don't attend such trash. Too bad Hollywood stars are not in mudslide areas. Cruel but they get what they dish out! Not swallowing their crappola any more!
Question, wasn’t it God who was dishing out the mudslides? And, well, you know, I guess if you believe your God murdered an entire planet because people pissed him off, praying for him to whack a few movie stars you don’t like is small potatoes.
People and even clergy of today are manipulating the word of God to suite themselves and what their evil hearts desire. I have a saying that goes Like this:"People shouldn't manipulate the word of God to suit themselves.[sic]”
I have a saying too, but it involves less of quoting of myself and a lot more facepalming.
And my personal favorite:
The script writers inserted the words "the Creator" wherever the word God should have been. They just didn't want to upset people by using that word. Another case of editing/revising a biblical story. The leftists of the film-making industry had to be satisfied! The film will make money, that is the intent of having made it with such an expensive cast, however I can guarantee there will be one individual who won't purchase a ticket to see it. "The Creator" could mean Lucifer/Satan. Freemasons, the upper echelon adepts not the lower initiates, believe in a "creator god" but his name is Lucifer, not God of the Bible. Be careful how they use language that could be referring to something other than the point of reference you may have in your own mind. Our leaders today, especially shadow government, are Luciferian. Once the NWO/One world religion is ushered in, all will have to take the Luciferian initiation or lose his/her life. I know my choice; have you considered yours?
Have I considered my choices? Why yes I have, I’m considering having another beer … or just switching to whiskey right out of the bottle.
Luciferian initiation, folks. Luciferian initiation.
I mean, come on, you can buy New World Order, but can’t sit still for a goddamned movie without foaming at the mouth?
Honestly, if your religious beliefs can’t let you enjoy a movie without a crisis of faith, well maybe you ought to give that some serious thought.
You know, there are days I find myself wishing that a few of those flesh eating dinosaurs had indeed survived the voyage.
Because the herd could use a little thinning out.
If you know what I mean.
He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you can understand.
- Methuselah, Paramount Pictures Noah, 2014