Tonight, we have the first storm-warning of spring. Earlier today we watched a movie about the ultimate storm, the Genesis flood.
The NOAH movie is causing a mini-storm among Christians. People are taking to Facebook to post articles that support their criticisms. Others are posting their own Ebert & Siskel reviews after actually seeing it (good for them!) Some Christian bloggers have even listed reasons to see the movie (none of which are because it's a good flick).
We were given a gift card for a theater we usually don't go to, so we've put off using it. Today seemed like the perfect opportunity - if the movie was that bad, at least we didn't throw our money away. So off we went to see what all the fuss was about.
This isn't the first movie to cause a storm.
In the early 70s, I was searching desperately for God. When I heard the music from Jesus Christ Superstar, I fell in love. When I saw the film, I was moved to tears. I saw that movie dozens of times. It was the only link to Jesus that I had. It made me think. It made me search. One day, I took the album to a co-worker, a young seminary student, to hear. We were working an evening shift to put ourselves through school. I was sure he would be as enraptured as I was, being a minister-in-training and all. He brought it back the next day, exclaiming in shock and wonder that I could listen to such blasphemy. I was stunned. He then asked me if I had been "born again." I had never heard the term and so he led me in the "sinner's prayer" right there at my keypunch machine. Still, Superstar was my hymnal for years to come and I love the movie to this day. Is it totally scriptural? No. And neither are Son of God, Passion of Christ, The Ten Commandments, and Veggie Tales.
I remember another movie that caused a big storm in 1988. It was called The Last Temptation of Christ. People were outraged. I reassured friends not to get their blood pressure up over it because, based on tons of bad reviews, the movie would die out quickly by its own hand and it did. I finally rented it years later and guess what? I was right - it was a terrible movie by any standard.
I had read the book in college, because I was looking for ANYTHING about Jesus. I knew it was fiction and frankly, it was a really good, well written novel. It made me think. It made me search. But as happens with so many films based on books, the film didn't measure up. The storm died down.
So what about Noah? I was all ready for a big-action, Russell Crowe flick full of great effects. It had a few moments. I got a chill-bump or two when the animals started towards the ark. I thought it was kinda clever how they (spoiler alert)... let's say, put them in a Genesis version of cryosleep.
But yes, it's true, the storyline is not Biblical at all. They went beyond artistic license. In this case, the story was changed but the names remain the same. I agree with a friend who said they could've just made a movie based on the Epic of Gilgamesh and avoided offending Christians. I'm guessing that wouldn't have had wide audience appeal (read: profit). Because, let's face it, you've never seen cute little Gilgamesh ceramic arks with adorable animals sticking their heads out the windows.
In summary, Noah is really just a dark, weird movie with some dumb scripting and surprisingly cheesy special effects. But check out the director: he also made Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. No surprise that Noah is dark and weird.
In Siskel-speak: Noah gets 2 thumbs down. It will drown soon. Whoa, hold on and dial back that gloating... I don't recommend Son of God either. But that's another post.
Funny thing about storms. They don't last. The Bible has a story about another storm, where some men got all up worked up in fear while another one just slept. They accused Him of not caring. This is what happened next: "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:39-41
Even after that experience, the disciples would still get in a fret over things, big and small, just like we do today. What mercy and understanding Jesus demonstrated as He gave last instructions before His arrest: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
There are storms all around us. In our personal lives. On a global scale. In our families. In our friends' lives. Political storms and crazy weather patterns. There really are things more important to be concerned about than a movie.
If you see Noah, I hope it makes you think. I hope it makes you search. And if you get in a conversation with someone who has seen it or wants to see it, don't get all sanctimonious; use the opportunity wisely! Because maybe that person is thinking and searching!
What do I want you to take away from this long post? The fact is, we are living in a dark, fallen world. There will always be insulting, offensive situations in our current pop culture and it's getting worse by the day. There are times to stand up and not be afraid to say "that's just wrong." And there are times to walk through the open door and use the moment to engage in a meaningful dialogue. However you feel you should handle the situation, always do it with grace and love. The object is to point the way to eternal life with a loving Father. He'll do the rest.