Monday, March 24, 2014

I've Seen Noah, But You Haven't

Russell Crowe's Noah epic won't open in most countries until this weekend, but I just saw it. So, Sacred Ground Magazine can now give you the real scoop on this astonishing and controversial film. Don't think this movie isn't for you. Noah dazzles the eyes with the wonder of creation, quickens the pulse with the mortal struggle of combat, and tickles the mind with the questions of where humanity comes from and where we're going that every non-ape walking upright should consider during their brief stint on earth.

The ancient Jewish chronicle and sacred book of Genesis makes an astounding claim. It suggests the Creator of the world gets heartbroken and disgusted at the vile things people do to nature and each other to get what we want. It asserts that a sad and pissed-off God hit the reset button on the planet. The film is based on this primordial apocalyptic text: the original disaster story. Move over Titanic.

With the same celestial and subterranean water that allows life to exist on earth, the giver of life carries out the threat that Bill Cosby once made to his rebellious children, "I brought you into this world and I can take you out." Yet, there are good children too. Noah (Russell Crowe), his wife (Jennifer Connelly), and their sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), and Japheth (Leo Carroll) are given a shamanic and prophetic vision that the end can be just the beginning. Still, they must submit themselves to a higher power and get their asses in gear. Noah learns Zen and the art of boat maintenance.

This story rocks. Though most religious people have a special ability to make the Bible boring and most nonreligious people are too busy keeping up with the Kardashians to crack a spiritual book and find out otherwise, this flick provides a global service by bringing cool, sexy, bloody enlightenment to a theater near you. How great is that? It's always nice when Hollywood discovers they can get rich and we can watch something that isn't completely stupid at the same time. Who knew?

Now, some are going to protest that it's silly to marvel at spiritual heroes and listen to spiritual wisdom from sacred stories passed down by our earliest ancestors who faced primal realities with courage we can only dream about. Really? Is that so? Yet, listening to Marvel superheroes spouting cliches about good and evil as written by chubby metrosexual graphic artists masterbating in their moms' basements goes beyond acceptable to downright trendy. Well, thanks for the heads up. I'll take that under advisement as I ponder whether to address my prayers to The Almighty or The Avengers. Wouldn't wanna take any supernatural mythology too seriously - unless it wears spandex.

The lamest part of the movie comes not from the biblical tale but from Hollywood. Is anyone surprised? Noah assumes he's been called to build an ark so he can survive the flood then exterminate his family by killing his only grandbaby. Dumb and dumber! This embellishment is necessary, because moderns will only tolerate a flawed self-doubting hero. A man who knows exactly where he should go and leads his family there with a good consistent example would be unrelatable, paternalistic, and downright icky. Who'd wanna watch that? Sarcasm aside, heroes often are less excellent than we prefer to remember. (Genesis reports that Noah got drunk and naked after the action and drama were over.) Yet, we need heroes anyway. A cynical person with no heroes to emulate is almost always up to no good. Those who aim at nothing usually hit it with amazing accuracy.

For ages, churchy patriarchal religion gave us a spirituality that focused on fear, rules, and submission, without much heart, compassion, or relationship with the transcendant. Our "heavenly father" was sort of a cosmic killjoy who labeled all pleasure as sin. Then, hippy matriarchal religion gave us a spirituality that focused on love, peace, and aromatherapy, without much justice or the balls to do something about the evil in this world. For example, a Memphis drugdealer who buried a 14-year-old competitor and his 80-year-old grandmother alive to establish his turf, so he wouldn't have to get a real job. Our "mother earth" gave fangs and claws to lions, but wouldn't want us to disturb the peace by stopping a child from being abducted or a woman from being raped or a few more concentration camp showers through bloodshed.

This film reminds us that a God worthy of the name must be capable of both mercy and kicking some ass. The higher power we feel completely comfortable submitting to can never be the higher power we truly need or even true submission. The story of Noah's ark comes from a very old book with no pictures. Still, its timeless message that justice, compassion, relationship with and submission to a higher authority all matter is a lot more meaningful than most "whatever floats your boat" spirituality flooding the planet today.


  1. I've been a bit on the fence about seeing the film, but I think I'll check it out now. Good review!

  2. "It's always nice when Hollywood discovers they can get rich and we can watch something that isn't completely stupid at the same time. Who knew?"
    Indeed! Thanks for the review and editorial perspectives, Lyn. And the chuckles. Always thoughtful. I had planned to see this movie, now I must.

  3. from what I understand of your page, you are talking about a film that had been published film noah, is one other movie hollywodenses that more missing to respect the religious question, is almost same as the mel gibson film the passion of Christ