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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Noah: a different interpretation?

It has been interesting to witness all the people rising up for and against a movie. A movie? As if it really makes a difference to the reality of life for those that seek Truth. Why anyone would look to Hollywood for the Truth is beyond me? Hollywood, at it’s best can provoke thought, highlight certain aspects about Truth, and give a partial reporting of history…BUT always with "License!" "License"…aah the word that allows anyone to do anything to Truth and justify it!

So why get so wound up on either side? It’s a movie! Why is Hollywood so upset that some dislike the movie? The director’s “truth,” the actor’s  “truth” or the screenwriters “truth” is not Truth! It’s their version of it tainted by their agenda. To get so angry with those that call a movie a departure from Truth is silly…because they are right. So let them some be unhappy about the movie. The individual’s that went to see it and were disappointed, well Hollywood still scored their money, the rest can refuse to pay to watch it, that’s the gamble you take when you make a movie based on a true story. For those that are mad because the movie departed from the Truth, please slow down and think maturely. If your counting on Hollywood to teach your family the Truth, you have just doomed your family!

I see three areas that this whole fiasco has brought to the surface.

First, is the issue of deception; it is clear Hollywood promoted the idea of telling stories from the Scriptures…which would lead Christians to believe that Hollywood was going to use their high level of production, acting and special effects to bring to life the historical accounts that took place in the Scripture. When I first heard it, I was as excited as when I found out that they were not going to stop with the Lord of the Rings, but were going to produce the Hobbit; my favorite of all of Tolkien’s books. There has been a lot of License with the two Hobbit movies, but all the parts in the book were also in the movie, so I have enjoyed the movies realizing that the producers are not as purist about Tolkien as I am. 
However, what was brought to the screen retelling the Biblical account of Noah is another story. Other than a man named Noah, a lot of animals and a lot of water, there is not much that resembles the Biblical account. Rock angels, magic seeds, three sons and only one daughter-in-law, sin against the earth, not God…oh sorry, the creator, the ark not being salvation for humans and animals, but for animals only, whether humans live or not was up to Noah. God…oh sorry, the creator being so angry about man destroying the trees with cities, that instead of just destroying man and his cities, he destroys all the trees? 

Even the Ark cost how many trees their life? God…oh sorry, the creator being so powerful that he can orchestrate; the selection of Noah, the building of the Ark…with the help of rocks, the gathering of all the animals and the flooding of the entire earth…but almost had all that blown because he could not keep the evil Tubal-Cain (hear the Darth Vader tune?) from sneaking on the Ark and conspiring together with one of Noah’s sons to kill Noah. This is one of the sons the Scriptures calls one of the 8 righteous people! Wow! Planning to kill your father is…righteous?

I fully understand why Christians were disappointed, but believe they should not over react. If they would just have listened to the Director in his March interview in the New Yorker they should have not been surprised. Darren Aronofsky has been quoted as saying “it the least Biblical, Biblical film ever made” Now some have claimed that was out of context, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to their version of the interview:

“It is important to note that the quote used is not only errant, but has been taken out of context. The quote arose after an interview with The New Yorker in which Aronofsky referred to "Noah" as "the least Biblical, Biblical film ever made." In using the word biblical twice in the quote, the director meant that "Noah" is unlike any other previously made religious film in a cinematic sense and feel.

Nice try guys but that is your twist – how about this one – Aronofsky, freely admitting he is an atheist, which means he does not accept the Bible as truth, has said that his movie Noah will be a film about a biblical story that will be very unbiblical. That is like saying I will make a movie about Lincoln, but make him a vampire hunter! WOW! I knew Lincoln did a lot, but not that he killed vampires! A very fun movie but not based on truth! So my point is to my fellow Christians, what did you expect? He did exactly what he set out to do…so don’t get mad, just decide if you want to go watch a fantasy that is about a biblical story, however, due to artistic license has very little to do with Truth.   

Also during his interview with The New Yorker, Aronofsky used the expletive when referring to many screenings of "Noah" held for various small audiences, resulting in poor test scores and dozens of different versions of the film. "I don't give a f--- about the test scores," Aronofsky told The New Yorker, via Digital Spy. "My films are outside the scores. Ten men in a room trying to come up with their favorite ice cream are going to agree on vanilla. I'm the Rocky Road guy." BY EMMA KOONSE , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER

This should help us understand the mind of this man. Because he likes rocky road, not vanilla, he can change the facts of a story anyway he wants. How can anyone expect a mindset like that to read a historical account and deliver an accurate rendition? He does not care what people want; he cares about what he wants. 
He is an “artist” and the Truth and accuracy means nothing to him, what matters is his agenda. That does not mean the film will not be entertaining, it just will not be based on Truth! Any movie with Russell Crowe in it will be great because he is a great actor! I love all of his movies and have been moved by them. “Proof of life” made me rethink my call and how committed to it I was. “Gladiator” challenged me to why I do what I do, for me or for God? The “Cinderella Man” drove me to examine my own integrity. So I have no doubt this will be an entertaining movie.

Also is the over reaction of Christians that want everyone to like the film. One Pastor has appointed himself judge of motives. He said "It’s embarrassing to belong to a faith that attracts a group of people who always have to be right, and when something pushes them just a bit, they want to shut it down or keep people away" Excuse me brother, but you don’t know the hearts of these folks. Many may be like me, really wanting to see a “Jesus of Nazareth” production, knowing it will not be perfect, but at least having some resemblance to the true story. Don’t judge me as self-righteous – perhaps I am discerning! Russell Crowe has said “why are people judging this film before they see it?” Good question! First, no one I know that has spoken about the film did so without information about it. Reviewers and Critics have seen the film and made commentaries on it. I don’t have to buy a ticket to know what a movie is about, I can read the reviews to understand the content. Yes, I have to see it to decide if I like the production, but not to understand the story the movie is telling. That’s what reviewers and critics are used for. I read some 25 reviews. I can tell you from beginning to end what the narrative states. How good it is presented is another matter. Let’s take our director’s point; if I make the vanilla ice cream absolutely beautiful, will he eat it just because it is beautiful? Not if he decided he was going to have rocky road. I wanted to see a Hollywood production of the facts of Noah, dramatized… with additions from Hollywood. This story line does not come close. 
Second, Russell Crowe asks the question, how people can people dislike a movie they have not seen? Again, understanding content is different than enjoying presentation. I would like to challenge Mr. Crowe to ask another question. How come so many of your peers criticize or mock the Bible when so many of them have never read it? Do you asked them that question?

I am very disappointed in what was produced, but not mad or surprised. I have also read quite a few Face Book posts denouncing all the “self righteous” people that don’t like the movie. Perhaps they need to look in the mirror and see who the self righteous person is. Yes there are those that are rash, but don’t use a broad paintbrush stroke of all because of the few. Does Hitler represent the average German, NO! Does Jeffery Dahmer represent the average homosexual, NO! Most Christians I have met are disappointed and even mad because they have seen the reviews by many that have seen the film, Christian and non-Christian, that say it is a “good” movie or a “bad” movie, but ALL describe a story that has very little resemblance to the historical account of Noah in the Bible. The big explanation is that there is so little about Noah that the folks doing the film filled in the gaps. If that were the only case I would be excited about seeing the film. It would be great to deal with the struggle Noah must of had, inside himself, with his family and with his neighbors. To walk through how he and his family built the ark and how the animals arrived; to view his neighbors, as the ark was finished and even as the flood began. How Noah felt as he heard all those people perish. I am sure there was great anguish.  But if the movie had followed the standard of “Ten Commandments” or “Jesus of Nazareth” it would have at least included the Biblical account. This movie does not. If God…sorry, the creator, is so upset about the destruction of trees, why in the world would He command Noah to build an ark? How many trees died for that? Why only one wife for the three sons? Is he setting up the first same sex marriage? Why would Noah have questions about the survival of humans when God…sorry creator, had made it clear that the flood was so man and animals would continue to live? I could go on, the point is clear. This film may be an epic fantasy about a flood that destroyed all the earth, but it is not a retelling of the Biblical account of Noah.

Second, is the issue of “interpretation.” Let’s define that word: The act or process of explaining the meaning of something; to give or provide the meaning of; explain. Should not it go without saying, that if you interpret something, you intend to tell in your own words what the original truth is? If you are meeting with a foreign dignitary and say in your language – “We desire to find some way to make peace with you.” However, when I interpret, I use my “License” and say “We are going to blow you off the face of the earth!” Would you think I had done the job I committed to do? To call this movie an interpretation of the Scriptural account is like saying that Hugh Hefner respects women and believes sex is a sacred right of marriage! 
Just be honest, this is not an interpretation of the Biblical Story, it is a fictional movie with incredible special affects and great actors, that uses the story of Noah from the Bible to bring forth an Avatar, meets a conflicted Gladiator, and the rock man from “never ending story!” Add to that the ultimate villain that dies in the end on the ark…makes for an interesting fantasy, but has no connection to the Bible. Don’t call rewriting meaning and truth, interpretation…that has no integrity to it. I have loved all kinds of movies all my life. When done well they cause me to reflect and apply any Truth that came through. I read the life of Eric Liddell, and saw the movie “Chariots of Fire.” There was quite a bit of “License” used, but the basic story line was true. I loved the movie – it communicated the drive that both men had accurately about their running and why they compete. Even the scene where Liddell beat Abrahams…which I believe never happened because Abrahams was sick on that day according to several books, the “License” used was based on truth, Liddell held all the records at that time, so it was logical that he would win the race. This is the kind of “License” in interpretation many of us had hoped for, not a completely different story.

Again, I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to make a measured reaction. If you can still like a fantasy about muscular heroes, rocks that live, spectacular special effects, ala Hollywood, then you might to check the film out. If on the other hand, you cannot stomach a clear departure of Truth for the sake of a movie, don’t waste your money or 140 minutes.

The third issue that I believe has arisen from this movie is the “dialogue” that everyone claims can now take place. This is a double-edged knife, because it can go either way. I have meant people even now that think the disciple John, in Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” is Mary Magdalene! There will be people that just believe the movie and never check out the source of Truth. However, those of us that claim to believe the Bible can engage folks on the Truth. If you see the film, you can speak first hand on the lack of truth in the story, while you can also share, good or bad, what you think about the production. If on the other hand, like myself, you choose to know what the story line is from others, but do not want to waste the time or the money to view it, you can, as I am, ask those that have seen it, what their take on it was and what was their interpretation of the story is. By doing this you can introduce the Truth from Scripture. I did this with two people just the other day on a train. What I am praying is that those of us that claim to follow Christ will just hold firm on our conviction, without sounding nasty. Christ was firm and even blunt, but He was never mean! Even when He drove the moneymakers out of the temple, or confronting the hypocritical Pharisees, He was angry about their twisting the Truth of God, but would have gladly dialogue with them, if they were open to do so. He received Nicodemus when he sought him out to discuss Truth. 

I also will hope for a reboot of Noah, by someone that will use their “License” on the silent parts of this story, but will tell the rest of the story following the truthful account of Scripture. That would be fun to experience! However, if not, I will wait for God’s video! 

         For me…I will probably see the movie, but wait until the DVD is in the $1-$5 – barrel at Walmart.