Living Large with Noah and the Christians: A tempest in a teacup

I saw Noah this weekend, and really, cannot identify the problem many religious types have with the movie. First of all, the Biblical account of the Flood in Genesis 6 – 9 is only one of hundreds of versions of the Flood story that are found in civilizations from around the world. Gilgamesh left an account of the Flood in ca 2500 BCE on stone tablets, long before the Hebrew Bible was compiled centuries after Gil’s account was old news. It is just like a bunch of pious Christians trying to alter reality to fit their own particular version of world events, truth be damned. 

Much of what I have read in reviews are along the lines of the one found at Crossmap which gives an overview of what Christians find so upsetting about the film starring Russell Crow. Citing Ken Ham, a noted creationist and president of Answers for Genesis, “it may be the worst film I’ve ever seen” and that “it is hard to fathom why some Christian leaders have recommended this movie.” 

I agree. This is not a Biblical story per se. Sure, Noah and his wife are there and his sons and daughters along with his weird father, Methuselah, made even weirder by Anthony Hopkins’ odd portrayal of the noted octogenarian. Another scene that has the religious types are up in arms over is the scene where Noah gets drunk on wine and lays around naked as the day he was born. Granted, considering the sexual repression Christians are so famous for, I can see getting a glimpse of Crow’s naked buttocks might be cause for getting out the torches and pitchforks, but honestly, it was a little Meh. If Christians can read some evil sexual innuendo into the scene, they are in serious trouble and need to seek professional help ASAP. 

In the Crossmap post, Ham had this to say: 

“There is barely a hint of biblical fidelity in this film. It is an unbiblical, pagan film from its start. It opens with: ‘In the beginning there was nothing.’ The Bible opens with, ‘In the beginning God.’ That difference helps sum up the problem I have with the film. The Bible is about the true God of creation; the movie does not present the true God of the Bible,” Ham continued. 

This is an accurate summation of the movie, and a good one. This isn’t a Biblical movie, it’s a pre-summer blockbuster meant to make scads of money on the world market (Upwards of $90 million worldwide since it opened. Forty-four million dollars from the U.S. market this weekend alone). However, Ham’s statement that the Bible is the true creation of god is certainly the party line objection when it comes to criticizing anything that doesn’t suit the creationists’ belief system. Again though, the Flood is not uniquely a Biblical story. Here is a comparison between Gilgamesh’ Flood story and Noah’s: 

“The table below presents a comparison of the main aspects of the two accounts of the flood as presented in the Book of Genesis and in the Epic of Gilgamesh.”

 

 

GENESIS

GILGAMESH

Extent of flood

Global

Global

Cause

Man’s wickedness

Man’s sins

Intended for whom?

All mankind

One city & all mankind

Sender

Yahweh

Assembly of “gods”

Name of hero

Noah

Utnapishtim

Hero’s character

Righteous

Righteous

Means of announcement

Direct from God

In a dream

Ordered to build boat?

Yes

Yes

Did hero complain?

Yes

Yes

Height of boat

Several stories (3)

Several stories (6)

Compartments inside?

Many

Many

Doors

One

One

Windows

At least one

At least one

Outside coating

Pitch

Pitch

Shape of boat

Rectangular

Square

Human passengers

Family members only

Family & few others

Other passengers

All species of animals

All species of animals

Means of flood

Ground water & heavy rain

Heavy rain

Duration of flood

Long (40 days & nights plus)

Short (6 days & nights)

Test to find land

Release of birds

Release of birds

Types of birds

Raven & three doves

Dove, swallow, raven

Ark landing spot

Mountain — Mt. Ararat

Mountain — Mt. Nisir

Sacrificed after flood?

Yes, by Noah

Yes, by Utnapishtim

Blessed after flood?

Yes

Yes

 Institute for Creation Research

Call me crazy, but as far as blockbusters go, this isn’t even a good one. Sure there are some neat creatures and evil bad guys, but any of the Hobbit moves puts the script, CGI technology and action sequences of Noah to shame. It just isn’t that interesting. I like Crow in most movies, but here, he is morose, a bit too wackily engaged with his “god” sent mission, and above all, the ending has been given away centuries ago. There is little to make anyone, Christian or secular, to want to sing the praises of this pondering, ark of a movie in the first place.