I consider myself a fairly well-seasoned viewer of the arts, by which I mean I understand when a movie or television show is trying to portray a sense of realism through language or violence or sex and when it is just being salacious. In other words, I enjoy dirty comedies and violent revenge flicks as much as the next person. If the film is sincere in its motives, I am usually on board.
It also means that I can’t have intelligent conversations with some of my friends or family about these movies because I run into the same arguments over and over. “Why do they have to say those bad words?” “Why do they act so tacky?” Tacky is a universal term in my family. Tacky can be applied to someone with a tattoo or to Jeffrey Dahmer. Tacky is a cloak that fits everyone who is not clean and upstanding.
So I usually expect outrage over a new movie by, say, Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese. I really wasn’t expecting it over “Noah.”
The movie, inspired by the Old Testament story of the man who took his family and a whole bunch of animals onto an enormous boat while God exacted his vengeance on a decaying world, has come under fire by none other than the people who most would have considered its target audience — evangelical Christians.
Let’s get one thing straight: this is not your father’s Noah. Heck, it’s definitely not your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s Noah. This is a Noah who has great conflict over the destruction of mankind, who has to decide if he and his family are supposed to actually survive the flood, who is a different character from the account in the Bible.
Biblical accuracy — that has been bandied about this past week. “Noah” doesn’t have it, and the outrage is that it should. Of course, if it were 100 percent Biblically accurate, it would have been a 20-minute movie. The story is less than two pages long in the book of Genesis. You really can’t expect to create a character with real depth and nuance based on two pages. Or maybe they wanted him to be a straight forward hero, a la Charlton Heston’s Moses. But these stories really weren’t like that. There was much violence, much sex and much human depravity, which was performed by some of the Bible’s greatest heroes. Would you like a full account of King David? Because that would probably be rated R.
But the lack of accuracy comes in the fantastical images played out on the screen in the form of giant rock monsters, which are fallen angels. They help Noah build the ark. Okay, that wasn’t in the original text, but it is a little weird to act like something is unbelievable when the main part of the story is about a giant flood that consumes the earth. Does anyone not remember anything else in the Old Testament? A snake talks to the first two people in a garden. A woman turns into a pillar of salt. The population attempts to build a tower to the heavens and are suddenly struck with the inability to communicate. Does any of this sound believable?
Contrast that with much of the New Testament, where aside from the works of Jesus, most people are not dealing with much out of the ordinary.
It makes one think that many Old Testament stories are in place mainly as footsteps toward a sense of morality and less of an historical absolute. I’m probably going to get hate mail over that remark.
Others have stated the movie is making a mockery of the Bible, that the director is an atheist and that he “bragged” about making the most unbiblical Bible movie. I still can’t find where he actually bragged about it, but I think he may have meant that he wasn’t making “The Robe” or anything where actors put on fake beards and spouted wooden dialogue.
Ultimately, the Noah story is about mercy, and whether anyone is outraged at wandering from the original inspiration should really find something else to be outraged about.
No one spends $125 million to make fun of a religion. Even if the director is an atheist, there is no way he would spend years of his life devoted to telling a story if it didn’t strike at something meaningful in his heart.
So go see it, or don’t go see it. But please, save your outrage for something that truly deserves it ... like the series finale of “How I Met Your Mother.”
(Ricky Duke is the editor of the Log Cabin Democrat. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)