Movie Review: Noah
Sooo . . . As you can imagine, Darren Aronofsky took numerous liberties in his film version of Noah and the flood. Bottom line: I would never watch the movie again.
That said, I'm glad I saw it at least once. Apart from the gross inaccuracies, it was quite interesting to watch how things might have happened just before the rains came, particularly the logistics of getting every animal on the ark. And once they're all on the ark, what happens then? In the movie, Noah's wife concocts an herbal incense to put the animals to sleep. Ha! Clever! I never thought about how the animals would stay on the ark without getting sea-sick or volatile, but incense! That was a good idea! And the depiction of the flood was great, too. Rains fell from the sky, but fountains of water burst forth from deep inside the earth—that was a detail of the Biblical account I had never paid attention to before.The Creation was touched on a bit as well, and it was interesting to see how other people envision it.
The movie kind of fell apart for me after that, though. Aronofsky created a Noah that I definitely did not like, and to be honest, I think he did a disservice to The Bible as a literary work. Regardless of whether The Bible is a divinely-inspired work or not, I don't think anyone can deny that it's a fantastic book from beginning to end. There's so much great content already; why would anyone alter the stories as much as Aronofsky altered the account of Noah and the flood? I think it would've been a much better—and bigger box-office sell—if he had stuck to the general outline given in Genesis.
At any rate, he didn't. So I'll take this opportunity to clear some things up: 1) All three of Noah's sons had wives by the time the flood came; 2) No one else besides Noah, his wife, his sons, and his sons' wives were on the ark; and 3) Everyone else on the earth at the time of the flood was wicked. (There is some question as to when, exactly, Methuselah died, but Bible scholars have concluded that it was in the year of the flood.)
I'll also take this opportunity to quote what Latter-day Saint scholars and prophets have said about Noah and the purpose of the flood:*
Noah, a Man Who Walked and Talked with God
“Let no one downgrade the life and mission of this great prophet. Noah was so near perfect in his day that he literally walked and talked with God. …
“Few men in any age were as great as Noah. In many respects he was like Adam, the first man. Both had served as ministering angels in the presence of God even after their mortal experience. Adam was Michael, the archangel, but Noah was Gabriel, one of those nearest to God. Of all the hosts of heaven, he was chosen to open the Christian era by announcing to Mary that she would become the mother of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He even designated the name by which the Redeemer should be known here on earth, saying He would be the Son of God. …
“… The Lord decreed that [the earth would be cleansed] by water, a worldwide deluge. Therefore, from among his premortal spirit children, God chose another great individual—His third in line, Gabriel—to resume the propagation of mankind following the flood.” (Mark E. Petersen, Noah and the Flood , 1–4.)
The Flood as an Act of Love
“Now I will go back to show you how the Lord operates. He destroyed a whole world at one time save a few, whom he preserved for his own special purpose. And why? He had more than one reason for doing so. This antediluvian people were not only very wicked themselves, but having the power to propagate their species, they transmitted their unrighteous natures and desires to their children, and brought them up to indulge in their own wicked practices. And the spirits that dwelt in the eternal worlds knew this, and they knew very well that to be born of such parentage would entail upon themselves an infinite amount of trouble, misery and sin. And supposing ourselves to be of the number of unborn spirits, would it not be fair to presume that we would appeal to the Lord, crying, ‘Father, do you not behold the condition of this people, how corrupt and wicked they are?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Is it then just that we who are now pure should take of such bodies and thus subject ourselves to most bitter experiences before we can be redeemed, according to the plan of salvation?’ ‘No,’ the Father would say, ‘it is not in keeping with my justice.’ ‘Well, what will you do in the matter; man has his free agency and cannot be coerced, and while he lives he has the power of perpetuating his species?’ ‘I will first send them my word, offering them deliverance from sin, and warning them of my justice, which shall certainly overtake them if they reject it, and I will destroy them from off the face of the earth, thus preventing their increase, and I will raise up another seed.’ Well, they did reject the preaching of Noah, the servant of God, who was sent to them, and consequently the Lord caused the rains of heaven to descend incessantly for forty days and nights, which flooded the land, and there being no means of escape, save for the eight souls who were obedient to the message, all the others were drowned. But, says the caviller, is it right that a just God should sweep off so many people? Is that in accordance with mercy? Yes, it was just to those spirits that had not received their bodies, and it was just and merciful too to those people guilty of the iniquity. Why? Because by taking away their earthly existence he prevented them from entailing their sins upon their posterity and degenerating them, and also prevented them from committing further acts of wickedness.” (John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 19:158–59.)
Pretty interesting, no? What if—what if—Aronofsky had read these studies on Noah and the flood and had made a movie about what might have been concurrently happening in heaven at the time? That would've been pretty awesome.
One of these days, I'm going to become a filmmaker . . .
*I pulled these quotes from The Old Testament Student Manual, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See Genesis 4–11: The Patriarchs for more commentary on Noah and the flood.
Thing I'm thankful for: people who study scripture