Monday, March 31, 2014

He got off the ark, got drunk, got naked, and started over.

It was 10pm last night when about twenty of us crowded in the coffee shop, with only 30 minutes until closing time. I still had the aftertaste of popcorn in my mouth. We were about to dive into what millions of movie-goers were talking about this weekend.

We had just seen THAT movie.
 Y'know, the one about the guy, the boat, and the animals?

Gosh, is it just me, or did this movie just seem to set people off?

To be honest, I didn't read one critic's review, media professional's article, or amateur film fan's blog (like mine).

Now, post-flood, I'm still not sure how much I want to read all the stuff going around because with the few status updates I saw, I had enough to convince myself I needed to avoid the hailstorm of controversial naysayers and make my own opinion.

Even before I saw the film last night,  I reminded myself, "It. Is. A. Movie."
This movie was made by an artist. Someone attempting to tell a story. Albeit a very famous, and "sacred cow" of a Biblical story, it is still an "attempt" to tell a story, which in the artist's words was "loosely based," on the original story.

And with that, I'd recommend you do the same. 
It's a movie, made by an artist, attempting to tell a good story.
(And I think he succeeded amazingly well).

Take it in... and see what you can take-away, see what you can learn.

If you go expecting something to line up with what you were taught in Sunday School, you'll be disappointed. (I wonder how many will see it that have no preconceived notions? People who don't know anything about Noah. Do they exist? It'd like to talk with them!).

This film is dark, violent, and not the happy, shiny story we see in cartoons and flannel graphs. But who wants that anyway??

 I like stories that look more like real life, that look more life MY life, which is the exact opposite of a perfect, got-it-all together fairy-tale.

Besides have you actually read the Bible? It is full of dark, crazily imperfect people who make tons of mistakes. (Murderers, prostitutes, and swindlers were all chosen and used by God).

For instance, most Sunday School lessons leave out the little part about Noah getting so wasted that his kids found him flat faced and naked (It's in this movie), right after he saved the world.  THIS IS IN THE BIBLE! Ya, oops, that's God's chosen one. "Cover him up quickly," his kids said in the text, and us Bible teachers, sorta did the same thing. Just leave that part out and talk about the dovey, dovey, abovey, abovye.

But that real, human experience is what I loved about this movie. It was full of pain, toil, jealousy, doubt, love, sacrifice, mercy, hope, death, and life. It's all there if you're wiling to find it and wrestle with it. (That's why I'd suggest going with some people you can pull it apart with over a meal/coffee).
Are there things that seem similar to movies like Transformers or the Never Ending Story?
 Ya, and even though I wasn't expecting it, I like it.

Are there things that might just seem a bit far-fetched, and supernatural?
Ya! But why not? Have you read this part of the Bible before? Genesis 6:4.
There are some things that truly deserve a "WTF?" (For all you people who might get offended by that, I mean, "What the FRICK.").

Are there things in the Noah movie you'd label ridiculous?
Duh? Yes. But, that makes for good conversation!
Did Russell Crowe have to sing in this movie?
YES! Did he not learn anything from Les Miserables??
If you get mad about anything, get mad about that. He sings again.
Just kidding.

The song he sang in Noah was actually really cool. (Your father is the healer, in the wind, something like that).

Sorry, I digress.

Noah's story complies about four chapters in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. It's an account of the world being flooded and every species of animal on the earth coming along for the ride. That's a little far-fetched in my opinion,  even though I believe it's true, I still don't get how it happen! That's the beauty of it. We get to use our imagination!  Disagree, ya, but don't write off the film because one guy attempts to tell the story. He had to give us something to watch for two hours! Big deal if he claims to be an atheist. (Which really surprises me).  He does an amazing job illustrating the human condition, and our human desire to know our life's purpose and to converse with our creator.

I'd say, God is and will use this film to "talk to" many people.

And God tends to use anyone he wants, even donkeys, to teach people truths.  

So there we were, gripping our espresso drinks, chiming in how the film affected us. Some were heated and felt it sorely represented Christianity. Others were open to the creative license and found the nuances exciting and even debating the mythical nature of Genesis.

For me, I saw myself in Noah. 

How often do I doubt and forget God's mission for my life?

How often to I feel lost in the midst of desperately trying to obey and honor God?

How often do I trample over those I love trying to do the work of God?

How often am I reminded of God's grace and call from the unexpected (a child) in my life? 

The answer is ALL THE TIME.

So, Darren Aronfsky, thanks for making this movie.
Thanks for giving the world something to talk about for a few weeks.
Thanks for causing us to open up our Bibles to read and wrestle with truth.
Thanks for reminding us, that God's stories have been passed down from century to century just like this: sitting around fires, or coffee shops. We are story tellers and receivers, retelling over and over again, what the great creator has called us to, redeemed us from, and brought new life through.


Thanks for showing us Russell Crowe's butt because we all have the opportunity to start again.

That's right.

 God allows us to start again, even when we fail, or think we've failed,  or gotten pissed drunk, or almost killed our (grand) children, or misinterpreted the Bible, or intentionally fabricated some truth.

It just so happens that there's something amazing called grace, and sometimes there is a rainbow waiting in the sky for us that confirms it.


Theresa Sheats said...

thank you for the blog Tony, I agree with what you said in so many ways......but the one thing that sticks out for me is when you said....Thanks for causing us to open up our Bibles to read and wrestle with truth.

ShanRock said...

Somebody move the brother away from the cotton candy machine! WTFrick is right!! Check out my review for a more biblically perspicacious view:

“NOAH” Movie Review

If you can make it thru the first 10 seconds without throwing your hands up to gain ejection momentum from the seat, chances are good you can sit thru the entire 139 minute production of writer-director Darren Aronofsky’s neo-biblical epic, “Noah”.

Granting that director Aronofsky uses biblical Noah only as framework for his story (recent marketing materials have added such a disclaimer), immediate suspicion arises that an antithetical message is waiting to unfold.

To wit: a post-modern interpretation of Noah’s voyage comes in the first ten seconds with a voiceover changing Genesis 1-1 to: “In the beginning.........there was nothing.”

Whoah! Still in your seat?

After the beginning, the breadth of creative license expands to ‘flesh out’ the film’s biblical framework, incorporating computer generated imagery (CGI) of rock monsters called “The Watchers” who are fallen angels banished to earth, teaming up with Noah as a last resort for redemption.

Liberties continue to abound around the number and ID of passengers riding in the Ark, further burdening the framework.

In the positive column, compelling photography, sophisticated use of CGI portraying the animals, great acting by Russell Crowe and especially Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson are ‘high water’ marks; although, the script takes a peculiar, dark turn towards its conclusion.

In a lengthy, uncomfortable plot development, the ‘bad’ Noah cruises the ark, announcing his intention to kill his newborn grandchild, in order to ‘complete his task’; ostensibly, on orders from God.

That development set’s up Noah’s ‘redemption’ post-flood; coming to realize the inherent good and innocence in others and himself. Remember folks, it’s only a movie! The wolves are behind the camera!

My main problem with “Noah” are the lengths Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel travel, using familiar biblical framework, to lure the unprepared viewer to a purposeful message AGAINST God.

The prime example is a recurring image of the well-known Garden of Eden snake and its molted skin, several times used as a totem, indicating the passage of ‘The Creators’ spiritual lineage. That image leaves no room for doubt that the spirit being passed is not the spirit of the God of the Old Testament.

In fact, the void of honest biblical characterization with this motif could suggest the notion of the film as a paean to Earth as “The Creator”. That would be in-line with the production abetting environmentalism as the post-modern neo-religion.

Another example of the film’s scriptural juxtaposition is in the scene towards the climax where “The Watchers” are released from their rock-body banishment after ‘doing good’ for humans… jetting up to heaven in new, diaphanous bodies and demonic faces, having earned their redemption by their good works on Earth.

In conclusion, it seems plausible that Aronofsky used a massive budget and great technical filmmaking to rub the nose of his audience in disdain for the God of the Bible, using Old Testament Noah as the pretext to deliver an environmental sermon.

It is unfortunate that not only audiences, but even the director himself, unfamiliar with sound biblical revelation, may not perceive that “Noah” ultimately uses the framework of biblical Noah to deliver the message that Satan is a friend of man.

The prophet Hosea said, “My people die from a lack of knowledge.” -Hosea 4:6

Paying hard earned money to watch “Noah” will do nothing to rectify that situation.

However, I think it likely the storm clouds surrounding this film, in addition to the film itself, will motivate some to investigate the story of Noah as written in the Old Testament.

As we are told by Our Creator: “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways.”
-Romans 11:33

“NOAH” Rating: *½ star

Written by Dennis Shanahan

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tony for sharing your thoughts. I loved your note about an artists creating a movie, not the Truth, not a life guide, but a movie that falls into a structured model intended to entertain us and convey a message. That's it. It seems like he did a good job as a storyteller. Maybe it is not entirely how most people understand the flood, but it is Aronofsky's interpretation and he has the freedom to create art based on his perceptions and inspirations. Now, we get to do the same. How we interpret the movie and what we take out of it is entirely up to us. Haha, I kind of am curious to watch the movie myself now.

- Ola

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the movie. I was talked out of it. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't (Russell Crowe's butt?) Ha! All I know is that Tony's blog on the subject was very wonderful. I loved reading this. Jilly