Noah (film)

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Noah is a film directed by Darren Aronskfy and stars Russell Crowe as the eponymous ark builder. It loosely retells the Biblical story of Noah and the great flood in the book of Genesis. Noah is portrayed as determined, environmentally aware and vegetarian. God is shown as remote, mysterious, all-providing and vengeful. Aronskfy, the director, is a self described atheist and [1] commented: [2]

"'Noah' is the least biblical biblical film ever made"

The film's studio attempted to adjust peoples expectation of the film by stating: [3]

"while artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis"

The film is banned in some Islamic countries because it depicts a religious prophet and potentially offends religious sensibilities. [4] Noah has had a mixed response from Christian audiences with some praising the inclusion of biblical themes in a major Hollywood movie. Others, particularly young Earth creationists and literalists, have criticised from its deviations from the Old Testament narrative, its use as entertainment [5] and its environmental subtext. [3]


Elements retained from the Old Testament

  • Noah has three sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth) and a wife.
  • Noah's grandfather is Methuselah.
  • Fallen angels known as the Watchers. This may be an interpretation of the fathers of the Nephilim referred to in Genesis 6:4 Bible-icon.png, the Watchers referred to in Daniel Daniel 4:13 Bible-icon.png, 17, 23, and in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, among other sources. The meaning of these texts is still debated to this day.
  • Noah and his family were vegetarian, at least until the flood receded. Genesis 9:2-4 Bible-icon.png [6]
  • The humans faithful to the Creator were descendants of Seth, son of Adam and Eve.
  • The Creator decides to eliminate all humans, except for Noah's family, because of their wickedness. Genesis 6:7-8 Bible-icon.png
  • Dimensions and specification of the ark. Genesis 6:14-18 Bible-icon.png [7]
  • The great flood caused by the Creator.
  • A raven and a dove are used to scout for land. Genesis 8:6-11 Bible-icon.png
  • Noah found drunk and naked. Genesis 9:20-23 Bible-icon.png
  • Seven day creation, although the days are not necessarily 24 hours.
  • Tubal-Cain was a descendant of Cain and had the skills of a blacksmith. Genesis 4:22 Bible-icon.png

Differences from the Old Testament account

Spoiler warning!

The biblical story of Noah is very brief. Many innovations and dialogue were imagined by the film makers to fill a standard length movie. Some of the differences to the Biblical account include:

  • God is referred to as "the Creator".
  • The Watchers are rock-like fallen angels that help Noah build the ark and defend it against enemies.
  • Miracle of a rain drop causing a flower to sprout.
  • Noah's vision instructs him to visit his grandfather Methuselah.
  • Methuselah appears to have magic powers.
  • Methuselah gives Noah a seed, originally from the Garden of Eden, which grows into a forest in seconds.
  • Methuselah drugs Noah so he can receive further communication, in the form of visions, from the Creator.
  • In the visual retelling of the genesis myth, it shows animal life evolving from an earlier stage, similar to old Earth creationism or guided evolution.
  • Noah is unsure if the Creator wishes humans to be on the ark at all.
  • Noah thinks the Creator intends for humans to become extinct.
  • Noah considers murdering his two new born grand-daughters as part of what he perceives as the Creator's plan. This is similar to Jephthah in his assumption that God wants him to kill his daughter. Noah fails to carry out the killings but prefigures Abraham's attempt to sacrifice his own son based on God's instructions.
  • Noah is instructed in dreams and visions which Noah must interpret, rather than clear instructions.
  • Noah's family have advanced medicine including drugs to put animals into hibernation and pregnancy testing. They also have gold colour fire lighter material.
  • The animals in the ark do not require feeding because they are drugged into hibernation.
  • Only pairs of animals appear, and not seven pairs of clean animals.
  • There is no set deadline for the flood, it occurs when the ark is finished.
  • Only one of Noah's sons, Shem, has a wife.
  • Water burst from the ground which added to the rain water.
  • The main antagonist, Tubal-cain, stows away on the ark and is later killed by Noah's son Ham.
  • While at sea, Noah's son Shem builds a mini-ark to escape from Noah with his wife but is foiled when Noah burns it.
  • Noah implicitly has the choice to save or destroy the human race. It is suggested that this was the Creator's intention.
  • Noah and his family occasionally roam on the roof of ark but the Bible implies the spend the majority of the flood inside the ark.
  • The quote "be fruitful and increase in number" is the last line of the film, although it is spoken by Noah.
  • The rainbow is seen but it is a sign of the Creator's approval rather than a covenant.
  • It is implied that Ham does not have any offspring and lives in solitude after the flood.
  • Noah's father possessed a (magic) snake skin which is a family heirloom. It is implied this originated in the Garden of Eden and is a symbol of man's fallen state.

Controversial additions

Although not strictly contradicting the Old Testament, several elements have been introduced that casts the Creator and the Bible in a bad light:

  • Ham accuses Noah of not saving innocent lives.
  • After the flood, Noah is troubled by his perceived failure to cause the extinction of humans, as seemingly ordered by the Creator, and develops alcoholism.
  • Noah is assisted by "fallen" angels. [5]
  • Hundreds of people are washed off a mountain peak by a giant wave and drown.
  • Screams from outside the ark of people drowning while Noah states there is "There is no room for them".
  • Noah fights the descendants of Cain that try to board the ark.
  • Humans ask the Creator for guidance, including Noah and Tubal-Cain, but the Creator does not respond.
  • The Creator punishes angels that attempt to help fallen humans.

External Links


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 [3]
  4. [4]
  5. 5.0 5.1 [5]
  6. [6]
  7. [7]
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