The Norman Transcript

Religion

June 26, 2014

A review following a movie’s ark

NORMAN — The Rev. Perry Sukstorf, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church: There has been a lot of conversation about this movie. I wanted to have a first-hand appraisal of it before I formed an opinion, one way or the other, especially since the conversations were so polarizing.

Because the account of Noah in the Bible is very short, you can only assume that if you are going to make a movie about him, there will have to be a lot added to the biblical account. Add to this that Noah has no lines to speak in the text until after the flood has subsided, and you can see how much room for variance there would be in any cinematic presentation worth spending your time and money on.

And that certainly was the case. From the interesting, miraculous backstory of Shem’s wife (and the lack of wives for Ham and Japeth) to the stowaway plot twist, all these creative additions sum up a family conflict that moves the story forward in a way that isn’t in any of the accounts of the flood.

But the movie never pretends to retell the story of the Bible. From its own promotional materials, its makers seek to convey biblical themes in an artistic way that will allow people to wrestle with the story and what meaning it has for us today.

In the movie, this was played out by the subplot of Shem’s child being born on the ark when Noah had assumed that God wanted humanity to die with his sons’ generation. (Shem’s wife was thought to be barren in the movie).

What bugged me was that God had no voice. Noah was forced to wrestle with what God’s will really was for him based on a dream, when the text says God spoke with Noah. In the movie, Noah was forced to wrestle with the question of whether or not God would demand that Noah put the child to death. While not unexpected from a Hollywood adaptation of a biblical narrative, it is still disappointing. God is certainly better than anything we can dream up, don’t you think?

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