I have dreaded Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming film Noah for months. I can’t stand Biblical epics for the most part, and anything that whips up Christian enthusiasm for torture and brutality (The Passion of the Christ) or genocide (Noah, presumably) is not doing anyone any favors. However, reactions to the film have been somewhat different than I expected.
If you read anything about director Darren Aronofsky’s newest epic film Noah in the past few days, it was probably about how much Christian biblical literalists hate it. Various conservative Christians such as Rick Santorum, Rick Warren, and Brian Mattson have blasted the film for diverting from the biblical narrative, calling it “pagan” and a “subversion of the biblical story.” As Ken Ham, the President of the Creation Museum who recently “debated” Bill Nye about the validity of creationism, put it: “Ultimately, there is barely a hint of biblical fidelity in this film. It is an unbiblical, pagan film from its start.” LinkThat almost makes me want to see it.
Aronofsky raises valid religious questions about the Old Testament prophet that are rarely asked in Sunday school or Hebrew school. Through vivid and often harrowing portrayals of Noah single-mindedly following what he believes to be direct orders from on high, Aronofsky asks: what kind of faith does it take to close oneself off inside a massive floating vessel and listen, stoically, to an entire world die? Did Noah suffer from survivor’s guilt? If he didn’t, what does that say about faith, and what does all of this say about God? These questions are difficult but important, and it is only through the intentional deviation from the biblical narrative — a series of theological “what ifs?” played out in dramatic fashion onscreen — that we are confronted with them.And that definitely does make me want to see it. Maybe when it’s available on video.