Genocide Without Reflection: The Noah Movie Is Horrible

I saw the Noah movie. It’s bad. Really, really bad. It’s such a comedown from director Darren Aronovsky’s previous film, The Black Swan, which was really, really good.

Where to start with Noah? How about with the gender stereotyping and racism? The roles of the girls and women are passive and focused completely on getting husbands and becoming great with child; the men on building and fighting. The characters are all so predictable.

And every actor in the film, insofar as I could tell, is white. Through the whole movie, you can’t help but wonder: How did black and Asian people ever come to appear on Earth? They aren’t among the children of Adam and Eve, nor are they among the children of Noah. If there’s a black, Hispanic, or Asian anywhere in this film, they’re lost in crowd scenes. You wouldn’t have thought that a cosmopolitan atheist director would depict race in a way befitting Ken Ham of the creationist museum in Kentucky. But he did.

And the story. Please. Right out of the gate, it reminds one why biblical literalism is so absurd. The sudden creation of heaven and Earth, the immediate snake in the garden debacle, the god who regrets his own creation of humans, the great boat, the animals, the miracles blended arbitrarily with naturalism. It’s a world, but it’s a ridiculous world. And as the basis for a serious worldview, it’s idiotic and childish; a pre-scientific account of history from the toddler stage of our civilization.

Then there’s the Earth First! environmentalism. Noah, a vegan, thinks God has chosen him to participate in the genocide of humanity so that the planet can be in eco-balance again. Noah participates in this genocide. At no point in the film does he question (nor does any other character in the film question) this genocide. God wants people gone, Noah sees water as a cleansing, God wants a boat made to save the animals (like He can’t build his own fricken boat!), and Noah is obedient to God’s desire. If Aronovsky’s Noah was a train conductor in Nazi Germany, he would have blown his whistle and thought to himself, “All aboard, Jews, off to Auschwitz with you! It’s the Fuhrer’s will. I’m just his obedient servant. I do what he tells me. The Holocaust will be a time of cleansing. He knows best.” God says it, Noah believes it, that settles it.

Until it doesn’t. At the very, very end (caution: spoiler), Noah has a change of heart. He wants the human race to go on. Like Abraham prevented by the angel of the Lord from sacrificing Isaac, Noah relents to the entreaties of the women to not kill his grandchildren now that the flood has subsided. He decides he’ll let them multiply and have another go at being kind and eco-friendly; that God wants human beings, even though they have a history of being total assholes and egregiously huge carbon footprint leavers, to go ahead and populate the Earth again. Noah has no regrets that God wiped out all of previous humanity, but Noah’s grandchildren–well, that’s a different story. He struggles with being God’s agent in the killing of them. The very fact that he does not want his grandchildren dead at the very last minute is supposed to show that Noah has got, at bottom, a heart of gold.

I just hated this movie. And I hate it the more I write about it. If you see it, you’ll probably hate it too. But in the interest of balance, I’ll note that A. O. Scott, a film critic at The New York Times, didn’t pan the film outright. He says it is “occasionally clumsy, ridiculous and unconvincing, but it is never dull.”

But I think it’s dull and dulling, so I won’t give Scott the last word here. Like reading a bad poem and finding it throws off your ear for good poems, this movie dulls one to the possibilities of good movie making–and even to measured ecological and moral reflection. Noah is noisy and busy. It rains a lot. There’s a storm. Millions (billions?) die and not a single survivor pauses to reflect on what this means; on what this says about God. Some other noisy things happen. It’s not enough.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to Genocide Without Reflection: The Noah Movie Is Horrible

  1. Michael Snow says:

    My sister went to see it and upon returning home, immediately called a friend and told her, “Don’t waste your money!”

  2. Elizabeth Brown says:

    I could tell just by trailer it wasn’t going to do well. Too melodramatic. Although Legends of the Fall was received well and my sister and I laughed throughout most of it– wasn’t suppose to be a comedy.

  3. conservative and free Christian says:

    Ken Ham, a racist?! What? Please, get your facts straight. You’re either intentionally lying or you are totally ignorant of his work. If anything, Ken Ham gives lectures and even made one or two documentaries against racism. I watched some of his presentations and he says that racism is morally wrong and also unscientific. He says there’s no such thing as a genetically superior race. The title of one of his documentaries is “One blood, one race”, something like that.

    Like most immature and brainwashed liberals, you are using some obsolete stereotypes about people with conservative beliefs.

    But evolutionist textbooks in the 1920s and later, had statements saying whites are the most evolved race of people.

    Darwin’s book on the origin of species, had the phrase “favored races” in the title.

    That brings me to another interesting point. Hitler being influenced by Luther, that’s a myth of
    the Left. The harsh thing that Luther said about Jews, was that their religious books should be burned. “Burn their books, for they are full of blasphemies and lies”.

    He was referring to some very offensive things found in Jewish religious writings, about Jesus and his mother, Mary.

    But Luther did not encourage people to kill Jews or Catholics. In fact, he defended Jews and criticized Catholic clergy for persecuting them.

    Speaking of influence, Hitler was influenced by the theory of evolution, and he greatly admired Ernst Haeckel, a charlatan evolutionist who forged the drawings of a human embryo and a dog embryo in the 1870s or 1880s, to make them look identical. When those drawings were published, many people were fooled into thinking that was evidence for evolution.

    That’s something evolutionists and left wingers have in common. They rewrite history, tell lies, use false science, anything just to establish their ideology as the mainstream philosophy in society.

    It’s strange that atheists and left wingers blame Luther for the Holocaust. They never blame Darwin for the Holocaust, in spite of the fact that Hitler believed in evolution and placed Jews at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder. They attack Luther because he believed in God, he was a Christian. I don’t think either Darwin or Luther should be blamed. Whatever they wrote and said, could be quoted and used by people, but that can be said of anyone’s sayings or writings.

    Darwin did have some racist views, probably not because he was mean, but because in the 19th century, racism was viewed as normal and socially acceptable. Darwin wrote in the “Descent of Man” that some races were more advanced than others. “The time will come, in the not too distant future, when the more civilized races of men will exterminate and replace the savage and primitive ones”.

    We can talk about the unintended consequences of Darwin’s godless philosophy or theory, but that’s another discussion. Hitler used Darwin’s theory to justify his own racism. Darwin was not evil. He was naïve and stupid. His theory was applied by secular humanists to economics, politics and science, always with negative consequences. That’s the unfortunate thing about Darwin’s legacy.

    So you thought the movie was bad. What did you expect from an atheist? To make a good Bible epic movie? That’s never going to happen. 🙂

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