I really liked the way the movie depicted Noah receiving revelation from God. His dreams are clear enough for him to understand, but they aren’t as clear to us (though we know what they mean due to our familiarity with the story). He doesn’t get it all at once and it isn’t all clear to him all at once. He has to think on it and work it out in his mind and with those God has blessed him to better understand what it is he needs to do.
Contrary to many world standards and beliefs, the film comes out and equates happiness with being married and having children. The whole film circles around the importance of the family unit and the distress that comes with it breaking up, or not perpetuating.
[***Spoiler Alert...If you haven't seen it and plan to, don't read on (it's on Netflix streaming right now).***]
Two hours into the movie I was rather puzzled at how Noah’s raging lunacy was really tied into anything meaningful. It wasn’t until the conversation between Ila and Noah that everything fell perfectly into place. The movie had been quite the emotional roller coaster. Ham is torn from the possibility of having a family. Shem and Ila live under the cloud of the potential death of their child/children. Ham is on the verge of committing patricide. Ila gives birth to twins, which would satisfy the possibility of all of Noah’s sons having wives. Ila’s new born daughters are almost killed in her arms while crying, but she gets Noah to pause long enough for her to calm them so that they don’t die crying. Noah raises his dagger and almost follows through but can’t, kisses them and walks away.
Why put us through such a ride? How does this have anything to do with the traditional Bible story everyone is so familiar with? Throughout the film the theme of justice beat like drum, relentless and loud. It isn’t until the very end, when despair is about to win out, that the sweet melody of mercy softens the beat and lets us see how much the Creator loves us. The Creator gives us what we need to become like he is, the choices we have to make are difficult for a reason, but if faithful we will be guided to do that which is right. Before I go much further, let me present to you the conversation that tied everything together so beautifully, and without which the film would be so much more difficult to understand and probably wouldn’t have gained my approval.
Ila: “I have to know, why did you spare them?”Now the Bible says nothing of this choice that Noah was given, but is it that far fetched? Noah saw himself as human/weak/sinful as any of those who were left behind. He confesses that neither the Creator nor he sees himself as “good” but merely “someone who will complete the task.” Noah didn’t understand why the Creator had chosen his family to survive and the entire human race be destroyed. As good and humble of a man that he was, he was truly sorry for the fate of the world. I appreciated the depiction of the sorrow and guilt Noah felt for leaving so many of God’s children to such a death.
Noah: “When I looked down at those two little girls, all I had in my heart was love.”
Ila: “Then why are you alone, Noah? You’re separated from your family.”
Noah: “Because I failed Him [the Creator] and I failed all of you.”
Ila: “Did you? He chose you for a reason, Noah. He showed you the wickedness of man and knew you would not look away. But then you saw goodness too. The choice was put in your hands because he put it there. He asked you to decide if we were worth saving. And you chose mercy, you chose love. He has given us a second chance. Be a father, be a grandfather. Help us to do better this time, help us start again.”
Noah was beginning to be at peace with the fate of his family (no perpetuation of the human race) knowing that their (and his) eventual death was not that far distant from that of all the people that were left behind to drown. God chose to save all the animals and Noah’s family, but as far as Noah knew, Ila was barren and so God really hadn’t intended for them to survive much beyond the flood. This weight on his soul was not lightened when he learned of Ila’s pregnancy, but weighed it down even more, due to the conclusion he had already arrived at and was trying to come to grips with. He is so distraught that he accuses his wife and grandfather of “undermining the Creator,” given their role in healing Ila’s barrenness.
After he thought he had failed in God’s eyes, he was lost in confusion and despair for his choice to let his granddaughters live. And then the dialog above occurs and light re-enters Noah’s soul. He chooses again, more resolutely and with peaceful assurance, to love and be with his family.
Noah was blinded so much by the weight of God’s justice that he didn’t recognize the full choice that he was given. He was so down about assisting in the death of the human race that he failed to see God’s merciful, outstretched hand to him and his family.
To be sure some things were exaggerated and changed to make a good story. But I found the story no less inspiring than what’s written in the scriptures*.
*The LDS religion has an additional book of scripture that adds some more information into the story of Noah that might make this a little more far-fetched (e.g., the Giants fought against Noah). However, as I’ve already mentioned several times, this is a good movie and goodness is there if you want to find it.