“Noah” may be worth seeing after all

A. O. Scott’s review of “Noah” in the New York Times starts with a nice headline:

Screen shot 2014-03-30 at 7.16.32 AM

And, contrary to what I expected of the movie (I should have known better given that the director was Darren Aronofsky), Scott gives the movie a thumbs-up:

But Darren Aronofsky, in his ambitious fusion of Old Testament awe with modern blockbuster spectacle, dwells on the dark and troubling implications of Noah’s experience. “Noah,” Mr. Aronofsky’s earnest, uneven, intermittently powerful film, is both a psychological case study and a parable of hubris and humility. At its best, it shares some its namesake’s ferocious conviction, and not a little of his madness.

. . . “Noah” is less an epic than a horror movie. There are some big, noisy battle scenes and some whiz-bang computer-generated images, but the dominant moods are claustrophobia and incipient panic. The most potent special effects are Mr. Crowe’s eyes and the swelling, discordant strains of Clint Mansell’s score. Once the waters have covered the earth and the ark is afloat, a clammy fear sets in, for both the audience and the members of Noah’s family: We’re stuck on a boat full of snakes, rats and insects, and Dad’s gone crazy.

Noah’s instability — he walks up to the boundary that separates faith from fanaticism, and then leaps across it — is not, strictly speaking, in the source material, and I will hardly be the first or last to note that Mr. Aronofsky, who wrote the screenplay with Ari Handel, has taken some liberties with the text.

Scott especially praises the acting of Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, and concludes with this:

“Noah” is occasionally clumsy, ridiculous and unconvincing, but it is almost never dull, and very little of it has the careful, by-the-numbers quality that characterizes big-studio action-fantasy entertainment. The riskiest thing about this movie is its sincerity: Mr. Aronofsky, while not exactly pious, takes the narrative and its implications seriously. He tries not only to explore what the story of the flood might mean in the present age of environmental anxiety and apocalyptic religion, but also, more radically, to imagine what it might have felt like to live in a newly created, already-ruined world, and to scan the skies for clues about what its creator might be thinking.

So I suppose I’ll see this, and readers who have already should weigh in below.  Note that the movie has a decent (but not great) rating of 76% rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, my favorite movie-review site, but only 50% from the audience.
I wonder if the low audience rating reflects Aronofsky’s playing fast and loose with the Bible, which would discomfit many American Christians.
Aronofsky, like me, is a secular Jew, and apparently pondered making this movie for a decade before starting to shoot. But the Christians don’t like it. As reported on The Belief Blog,  there are objections from Big Deal Christians:

On March 16, megachurch pastor Rick Warren tweeted this message to his 1.3 million Twitter followers:

Director of new “Noah” movie calls it “The LEAST biblical film ever made” then uses F word referring to those wanting Bible-based [films]

. . . Count conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck among the unimpressed.

Before he even saw the movie, Beck, who is Mormon, called “Noah” a “slap in the face” to religious people.

“It’s dangerous disinformation,” he told his 10 million radio listeners.

After Paramount screened “Noah” for Beck last weekend, he acknowledged that blasting the film sight unseen was “kind of a dirtball” move.

Then he blasted the movie again, calling it a “$100 million disaster.”

Beck’s biggest problem with “Noah” was Noah himself, whom Mormons believe is the angel Gabriel in human form.

“I always thought of Noah as more of a nice, gentle guy, prophet of God,” Beck said, “and not the raving lunatic Paramount found in the Bible.”

I’m glad Beck is so sure about what Noah was like.  But the God who drowned everyone but Noah and his family surely wasn’t  a nice, gentle guy (or “ground of being’); he was a murderous bully. And there’s one more objection:

Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, said he has the same problem with Aronofsky’s depiction of Noah.

The Bible calls Noah a “righteous man,” Johnson said. In the movie, his character is much more complex.

Noah begins the film as a rugged environmentalist who teaches his family to respect the Creator and all of creation. As he becomes increasingly zealous, Noah seems bent on destroying life rather than saving it.

“I understand that the writers want to create tension and resolve it, but they push it to a spot where if you haven’t read Genesis, you wouldn’t know whether Noah is really a man of faith or not.”

You know, in the face of this kind of stuff I’d have a lot of sympathy for the director, who was forced to add a disclaimer to the movie stating that  “the film is ‘inspired’ by the Bible and true to its values but takes certain liberties with the story.”

But Aronofsky lost me at this:

Ultimately, though, the director has little patience with literalists on either side of the believer-atheist divide.

It’s ungenerous to insist, as some Christians do, that there is only one way to interpret Genesis, according to Aronofsky. But it’s also ridiculous to argue, as some atheists have, that no ark could possibly hold all the animals.

Really? Does Aronofsky think that the Ark held every species (about 7+ million), in pair or sevens, or only the “kinds,” whose number, of course, is unclear. But even the kinds would have to include elephants, whales (who couldn’t survive in hot, silty water), and predators and their prey, much less parasites and insects.  All that on a wooden boat that was 450 feet long 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with just a few windows at the top?! Does Aronofsky also know that no wooden boat that large could possibly survive in a normal sea, much less a turbulent one. No, the atheists are right here: no matter how you construe the word “kinds”, or the number of species put on the ark, the idea won’t float. And that neglects the formidable problem of getting the penguins to Antarctica from Mount Ararat, or the marsupials and giant earthworms to Australia.

For a secular Jew to give this story any credibility at all, except as a kind of horror movie, is reprehensible.

Here’s a Paramount clip about the making of “Noah.” That Ark is ludicrous; it is a fricking box in the movie, and could never have been seaworthy.

h/t: Hempenstein


  1. Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    The descriptions of this movie remind me of “Mosquito Coast” with Harrison Ford and River Phoenix. A very under-rated movie IMO.

    • Alex Shuffell
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      I love that movie! I’ve been reading the book this week (so far they are equal). There are definitely some similarities between Noah and Allie Fox.

  2. noncarborundum
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    > “That Ark is ludicrous; it is a fricking box in the movie, and could never have been seaworthy.”

    That much at least is Biblically accurate: the word translated as “ark” in English actually means “box” in Hebrew. This, by the way, is why the box in which the tablets of the Ten Commandments were supposedly kept could also be referred to as an “ark”.

    (The English word “ark” comes from the Latin “arca”, also meaning “box; chest”.)

    • Moarscienceplz
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      You beat me to it, noncarborundum.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm that answers my confusion over Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    • Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I’m waiting to hear if there are T-Rex’s on the Ark, like Ken Hamm tells us there must have been… :/

  3. E.A. Blair
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    If nothing else, knowing that this movie pisses off so many religious and conservative wingnuts is almost enough to make me want to see it. However, I’ll probably wait for the DVD to reach my public library.

  4. Prof.Pedant
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    “what it might have felt like to live in a newly created, already-ruined world,”

    If I crank my rationalization circuitry up to 11 and run it through my imagination the whole problem of ‘kinds’ and ‘boat size’ disappears because [here comes the rationalization] the Earth was still ‘newly created’ and therefore able to bring forth new forms of plants and animals when divinely devastated! Noah saved what he could (domestic animals, garden-friendly wild animals) and the rest are the ‘re-creations’ that emerged to fill the desolate wastes.

    So, Christians, you no longer have to waste time and effort trying to explain how the boat could have contained every species of plant and animal. A small gratuity would not be amiss.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Maybe now is the time to re-launch Spontaneous Generation as an explanation for the re-population of the world.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Don’t the Hambones, Southern Comforts, and Institute of Creation Babbling explain it via evolution? They always say that microevolution is true, and that all the kinds, within which evolution can occur, were taken on to the ark, and after the flood diversified into what we now have.

        Most common creationist belch as to the number of kinds on the ark: 16,000. Reasonable estimate for the number of species on the earth now or in the recent past: 30 million. Approximate number of days elapsed since the flood (c. 2300 BCE): 1.5 million. Hence, rate of species production via evolution since the flood: 20 per day.

        This is what we refer to as a reductio ad absurdum

    • gluonspring
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I’ve never quite understood why the religious would try to defend the soundness of the boat, the number of species it could hold, etc. After all, they embrace magic so they have a ready excuse for anything: The boat didn’t break apart because God magically strengthened it. It could hold all the animals because God magically made it bigger inside than outside, or God shrunk the animals down to little pocket sized versions of themselves, or God took a handful of representative orders, a vertebrate, an invertebrate, etc. and magically made them diversify by budding into all the species in a week. God could magically cause the animals not to poop while they were in the ark, or need food, or breathable air. He magically whisked penguins from the Antarctic and back,and so on for the other animals. Magic solves all problems and since believers have magic at their disposal as an explanation I’m always surprised that they don’t avail themselves of it. Of course, this makes the actual building of the boat a purely symbolic gesture on the part of Noah, since with all that magic Noah wouldn’t really be saving the animals himself but would just be making a symbol, a symbol of obedience of course since that’s the important thing in religion. Maybe that bothers them for some reason? Or maybe they are uncomfortable with magic, though it’s hard to see why since the Bible is full of it.

      Of course, from the atheist side it is perfectly reasonable to point out that the boat story is ridiculous unless heavily larded with magic but I’m surprised that more religious people don’t say, “Yeah, of course, there was lots of magic involved.”

      • Prof.Pedant
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        My impression is that they de-emphasize the magic in their magical claims because everyone knows that magic is not real. If they emphasized the magic in their magical claims people might be unable to not notice that the magical claims conflict with the fact that there is no such thing as magic. I also tend to assume that this is is part of why so many ‘faithful’ babble about ‘answered prayers’ and ‘it was a miracle that god saved us’, selectively labeling ordinary events as magical enables their magical claims to appear slightly less implausible…. [Notice how crucial cognitive dissonance is here, hence the frequent references to the ineffability of god.]

        • Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          That’s cognitive dissonance for you.

          What theists believe in is “plausible magic”. You can find a description of it in the dictionary under “oxymoron”.

      • Moarscienceplz
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        “It could hold all the animals because God magically made it bigger inside than outside”

        Yes, and the Bible just failed to mention that the box (ark) was blue with a flashing light on top.

        • lkr
          Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          My reading is that it was a gigantic hydrofoil ferry with cold-fusion power plant. And barcoding all of the animals for site deliveries. That was Ark 2, since Ark 1 had been replanting the land until the dove could bring back a branch.

          This would be much better cinema, I think. And Noah needed more than a big FedEx box to drop off necessary deliveries to Australia, New Caledonia, Hawaii, Atlantic Forest of Brazil, etc, etc. Oh, it also dropped off some neat bugs on the 4000-foot mountain outside my window. No where else..

          • SA Gould
            Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:29 am | Permalink

            Barcoding! Of course! God thought of everything!

        • microraptor
          Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          You beat me to it. Maybe they should have gotten Colin Baker or Paul McGann instead of Russell Crowe.

        • lisa parker
          Posted March 31, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

          As in “Attention K-Mart Shoppers?”

      • Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, at a certain level the argument isn’t really about whether a claim (eg., the ark) is possible, but about why magic is not a permissible explanation. Yet magic is perforce the theist’s only recourse, when you get down to it, and whether they want to admit it or not.

        Much of theology is just an attempt to dress up magic to look legitimate.

        • Jesper Both Pedersen
          Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          Much of theology…

          Hehe… 🙂

      • Kevin Alexander
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        Or god could have just waved his hand and killed everyone except Russell Crowe and saved on the water bill.
        Then the movie could be shorter but no, Aronofsky would still pad it out to two and a half.
        Also, it’s historically inaccurate. I’m pretty sure that Anthony Hopkins is older than Methuseleh.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted April 1, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

          He’ll always be the young Pierre in ‘War and Peace’ to me. When did he ever get old?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Thinking back to the original myths that probably spawned the Noah story, I’d guess they may have originated somewhere in the Tigris – Euphrates valley, and for villagers there “all known species” may have amounted to a couple of dozen assorted semi-domesticated varieties.

      So it’s quite possible, I guess, that the original Noah story is ‘true’ (for sufficiently small values of ‘true’).

      It just falls apart if taken literally.

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I saw it last night with two friends and when I whispered to one “Virtually none of this is in the Bible”, (though there is some material from the apocryphal Book of Enoch) the other retorted “It’s the reboot!” which left me in hysterical laughter and much of the surrounding audience mystified as to why I was laughing so hard. 🙂

    That said it’s unevern and the most interesting elements of this movie entail plot-spoilers.

    The conflicts between Noah and his wife on the right course of action in the film are ironic, given that several freethought online columnists (I’m duly avoiding bl-gger) including Jerry Coyne here noted that Noah’s wife is played by the same actress who played Darwin’s wife in “Creation”. I would say the dynamics of the husband-wife conflicts in the two films are actually remarkably similar albeit over very different issues. Connelly, an actress with wide range, almost seems to be playing very similar characters in both films.

  6. Greg Esres
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    “I wonder if the low audience rating reflects Aronofsky’s playing fast and loose with the Bible”

    Assuredly. The religious movies tend to have those numbers reversed. Look at “God’s Not Dead”, with a critics’ rating of 20% vs the audience’s of 87%.

    • Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink


      My FB feed is already brimming with statuses conveying deep concern about the film’s departure from “the actual events”.

      I need some new FB friends. The ones I have now just depress me.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        That needs to be your next FB update!

        • Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink


          Status: “God, I hate you people.”

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            Ha ha! I’m sure you’ll have less problems afterwards!

      • Greg Esres
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        “I need some new FB friends. The ones I have now just depress me.”

        The problem for me was friends of friends. I never put any effort into collecting friends, but some of my liberal friends weren’t too particular about whom they became friends with and most of their friends were deeply conservative. It became so annoying that I eventually deactivated my FB account.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          That’s one of the reasons I’ve never gone to Facebook in the first place.

          • Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            It’s nice for keeping up with what’s going on in the lives of family and friends, and keeping them up to date with what’s going on in yours.

            But there is the unfortunate side effect that you learn what sort of nonsense those people are into.

      • gluonspring
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        I keep thinking this every time I sign onto Facebook, but then I realize that that’s my mom, siblings, and basically everyone I knew before age 25. 😦

  7. Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Time for another glass of mead at the baraminology tavern. The forecast calls for insane.

  8. kraut
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    “Before he even saw the movie, Beck, who is Mormon, called “Noah” a “slap in the face” to religious people.

    “It’s dangerous disinformation,” he told his 10 million radio listeners.”

    What happened to teach the “controversy”?

    • Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      And he should know: dangerous misinformation is his professional speciality.

      • microraptor
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        That must be the problem: he’s worried about competition.

  9. desertviews
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    ” But it’s also ridiculous to argue, as some atheists have, that no ark could possibly hold all the animals.”

    “Does Aronofsky think that the Ark held every species (about 7+ million), in pair or sevens, or only the “kinds,” whose number, of course, is unclear.”

    No, he’s pretty clear that the story is a myth. On Colbert’s show, Aronofsky states that the story is a myth and the the Bible cannot be taken literally, comparing the Noah story to Icarus and other myths. (at approx 2:50 mark)


    The article quoted above is unclear. I venture that Atonofsky is saying that the Noah story has value to atheists because of the power of the myth, and it’s unimportant to conjecture over the ability to fit all the animals in the ark.

    • microraptor
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      That makes it sound like he things that atheists believe that there was an ark or something.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted April 1, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        His point may be that it’s ridiculous to take the ark so literally as to actually calculate how many species it would hold. Or whether it would float. Or the precise date of the flood, all of which various people have invested much effort in.

        But I think that doing science (and history) is only ridiculous if the methods are unsound.

  10. Alex Shuffell
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    “It’s ungenerous to insist, as some Christians do, that there is only one way to interpret Genesis, according to Aronofsky. But it’s also ridiculous to argue, as some atheists have, that no ark could possibly hold all the animals.”

    When I read it this the full stop after “Aronofsky” made me think that it was the views of Daniel Burke, the writer of that piece, trying to defend Christians. I would be quite disappointed if it were Aronofsky’s view.

  11. Kevin
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I am curious if it would be educational to show kids a representation of the fanatical and genocidal Judeo-Christian God. Then quiz them on what they saw. Was it fair what God did? Was it possible what was commanded of Noah? If they were not brainwashed already, I think they would answer straightforwardly: the Ark myth is unfair, unrealistic, and unnecessary to explain anything except the banal malevolence of man.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      God loves fishes more than humans?

      • Kevin
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        And mammals…oh wait God did not know that whales were mammals back then…

  12. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    A friend of mine saw it yesterday and rated it C for corny to D for don’t bother. He said it was full of monsters.

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I love monster movies! Did Asylum Films have anything to do with it? They always make the best/worst monster movies.

  13. Andrikzen
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Willing suspension of disbelief – or is it non-belief.

  14. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I’m curious as to why Aronovsky says that Noah is the “LEAST biblical film ever made”. Does it not tell the story of a megalomaniacal rage monster who has Noah build an absurdly unseaworthy boat (as any wooden ship of the size specified would be), cram it full of manure producers, so that said megalomaniac can indisciminantly murder everyone else on the planet? Are the other absurd details of the story particularly important?

    • Kevin
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Well worth a laugh to read said comment.

    • Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink


      It’s frustrating to me as another (musical) artist because that statement and the attitude it conveys will likely be ballyhooed in arts communities as profundity, iconoclasm, and pushing the envelope.

      He took some BS and added some more BS. That’s not particularly remarkable in my book.

  15. Peter
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    For your complaint about literalism, you might have linked to a source. I assume you were quoting the piece by Daniel Burke for CNN.

    But if you’ll read the (much better) piece by Cathleen Falsani in The Atlantic, you’ll see that the CNN piece does not tell the whole story:

    I think it’s more interesting when you look at not just the biblical but the mythical that you get away from the arguments about history and accuracy and literalism. That’s a much weaker argument, and it’s a mistake.

    Because when you think about Icarus, you don’t talk about the feathers and the wax and how the wax attached to his body and how is that physically possible that he could fly with feathers on his arms. No. You’re talking about how he flew too high and was filled with hubris and it destroyed him. That’s the message and that’s the power.

    In other words, Aronofsky is not saying that the Noah story is literally true when he rejects literalist objections; he’s saying that it’s a mythical story, whose value is orthogonal to the literal truth of its material details.

    • Dale
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Ok, I take your point, but if it is metaphor, what’s it a metaphor for?

      Also, real creationists really believe this stuff in a literal sense.

  16. Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I would want to see the movie if it is entertaining just as I would see a movie about Jason and the Argonauts if it was sufficiently entertaining. In other words, that Noah and the Deluge is a mythological story wouldn’t necessarily preclude me from viewing a good movie based on the myth.

    Incidentally, I’ve never gotten a believer in the Deluge myth to explain to me how all the carnivores managed to avoid starvation after disembarkation without eating all the herbivores with which they had shared the hold of the ark. For that matter, what did the herbivores eat after making land in a world devoid of edible vegetation?

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Well, for the carnivores there would be plenty of bloated carcasses laying about. God would enable herbivores to adapt to seaweed for a while…

      I can haz Templeton award?

      • lisa parker
        Posted March 31, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        @Timothy. You’ve got my vote.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      In the original story in Genesis, the first thing Noah does after reaching dry land is build an altar. Then he “took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” He kept them alive for a year on an ark, so they could be roasted when it was over. “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart…” Burnt flesh was the way to the Lord’s heart, evidently.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        That must have been one hell of a dinner, except no wine to wash it down.

        • JohnJay
          Posted March 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          That’s why the second thing Noah did after reaching dry land was to plant a vineyard.

  17. jwthomas
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    From “Pi” to “The Fountain” Aronofsky has never made a movie that hasn’t widened my eyes and electrified my brain. He’s never made a film without faults, but what artist/genius has? The banality of the movies dutifully nominated for big awards every year is appalling. Though I never go to movie theaters any more I’ll be finding a way to see this one as soon as I possibly can.

  18. Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    There is one, possibly two, big Hollywood movies about Moses that are in the works. Info can be found here. From what I see they are going to be pretty formulaic *yawn*.

    • Paul S
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      It doesn’t have to be dull. We used towatchthe Ten Commandments and we would take a drink every time Yul Brynner said ” So let it be written, so let it be done” or Charlotte Heston says “bondage”.
      FYI, this game is for experienced drinkers only.

  19. davidintoronto
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Interview with Shmuley Boteach. Within Judaism (apparently) Noah is considered a minor and flawed figure. So it’s fine by the rabbi that the film depicts the protagonist in a less-than-flattering light.


  20. Posted March 30, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Why wouldn’t Noah be a raving lunatic?

    If you believe the story is true—and I generally try to believe all fiction for the duration that I’m reading it—then you have a man who knows that everyone and every thing is about to die, save his family and these animals. Think about that.

    Everyone has friends who are less than perfect as defined by the Bible. I have friends who swear, get drunk, don’t tip, flake out on plans. We all know they are less than perfect, but we care for and about them anyway. I have a person I actively dislike for a long string of such behavior, but I wouldn’t want to see her drowned in a cataclysmic flood. (We’re assuming I’m perfect and ark-worthy, here. Bear with me; this is fiction.)

    And then my two cats, even if they weren’t fixed, are both female. I’d have to leave one behind.

    Knowing that all one knows is about to be swept away, and that all one can do is save enough animals to repopulate the Earth, wouldn’t you go nuts?

    Speaking of which, if God made the animals in the first place, why couldn’t he have made more after the flood?

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Because that would make sense and so, not kosher.

      • Paul S
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        Why not, it’s not like it took a lot of time. 6 days max.

  21. Richard Olson
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Ken Ham receives that construction clip in an email and seethes; if only he’d thought of this sooner, he could maybe have made a sweet deal with Aronofsky: “Brother Darren, why don’t you build the thing at my theme park, film scenes there, sign ownership over to my corporation when you’re finished [charitable donation write-off? talk to attorneys], and I’ll hold off putting the mouth on your blasphemous production until a day or two after it opens. Box office! I’ll even have a word with Brother Glenn in the bargain.”

    Water over the gunwales now, of course. Maybe, though, there is something to be salvaged.

    Today he’ll coax some tech-savvy kid into integrating the movie boat construction footage into CAD technology. Carpenters on Park maintenance staff will use the finished product for construction drawings, eliminating the necessity for spendy A-E design fees. Obviously, this is why God had Ham’s friend send him that email.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Alternatively, now Ham’s either going to have to make his ark look like Crowe’s (if it ever gets built), or “Daddy, why doesn’t this ark look like the one in the movie??” will be heard daily at the gate.

      • Kevin Alexander
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Because son, that one is the blasphemous one!!
        This is the true Ark. I prayed on it.

  22. Steve Gerrard
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    “We’re stuck on a boat full of snakes, rats and insects, and Dad’s gone crazy.”

    LOL. That’s what I needed to hear about this movie.

    • eric
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Alternate working title: “Snakes on a Boat”

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted March 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        To make it rhyme with the original, try “Snakes in the Rain”.

        • microraptor
          Posted March 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          That sounds like the name of an 80’s hair metal song.

  23. Hempenstein
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t seen it, but from what I’ve read it seems that the end result will be more people at least questioning the validity of the whole concept / wondering where this benevolent deity they’ve been told about is in all this mess.

  24. Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I’ve often wondered why the Babble never makes mention of that other rather large part of Domain Eukarya, the plants? Did Noah collect the seeds or specimens of all 300,000 extant species of the green guys and shove them all onto the ark, too, and then just forget to mention that? Were they left to just fend for themselves? They seem to have done just fine for themselves then, with no intervention from the Big Bully. Why no press for the photoautotrophs? Hurumph. Animal Exceptionalism.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Fish, whales and other sea mammals, starfish and other sea invertebrates. The bible presumes that they all survived (after all, it was water). Nothing about silt, sunlight, concentration gradients, etc.

      Apparently the writers of the bible weren’t quite scientifically literate. They’ve got a lot of company in the bible belt.

      • Doug
        Posted March 31, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        And, as Mark Twain pointed out, the ark would have had to carry every disease-causing microbe [either in Noah’s family or in the guts of flies] since those survived the flood. See “Letters From the Earth.”

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted March 31, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          Yes, that was mentioned on this website a few weeks back, along with all the parasites that live on humans. I wonder which one of the eight had the tapeworm?

  25. Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear. Sounds as if the director had to put that comment about the ark being able to hold all animals to show “balance”, but really it just makes him look completely clueless.

  26. Jimbo
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I found it interesting that the Ark, if built to Biblical dimensions, would have approximately half the capacity of the Titanic.

    Why anyone on this site would spend money to see this film is beyond me. If anyone does see it, please do tell how Noah gets two of every extinct fossilized critter on board.

    • eric
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I don’t stay away from religious-themed movies just because they are religious, that would be (IMO) silly. Like not listening to Handel’s Messiah or not visiting Notre Dame when one goes to Paris. Appreciating religiously-inspired art does not make one religious or mean you believe religion has some truth to it.

      Having said that, this movie doesn’t look very good to me (iron tools in the stone age? Dan, seriously?), so I’ll probably wait for it to come out on DVD unless some personal friend of mine raves about it and tells me I’ll like it.

    • SA Gould
      Posted March 30, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Noah builds ark, creatures get email and come to his doorstep. On board, there is an evil stowaway who *chows down* on a couple of the only-two-of-a-kind critters. One kid slays another one of the beasts, and tries to trick Noah by saying ‘The animals are awake and eating each other,’ which Noah believes. Yet when animals disembark, everybody places nice, but nothing is shown anyway. A movie about saving animals that has only 4 minutes involving animals.

  27. Ian Liberman
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    We have forgotten that in 2008 , Irving Finkel discovered a Sumerian tablet with a duplicate of the Noah story. It seems we plagiarized the story for the bible. The book is quite interesting. “In THE ARK BEFORE NOAH, British Museum expert Dr Irving Finkel reveals how decoding the symbols on a 4,000 year old piece of clay enable a radical new interpretation of the Noah’s Ark myth. A world authority on the period, Dr Finkel’s enthralling real-life detective story began with a most remarkable event at the British Museum – the arrival one day in 2008 of a single, modest-sized Babylonian cuneiform tablet – the palm-sized clay rectangles on which our ancestors created the first documents. It had been brought in by a member of the public and this particular tablet proved to be of quite extraordinary importance. Not only does it date from about 1850 BC, but it is a copy of the Babylonian Story of the Flood, a myth from ancient Mesopotamia revealing among other things, instructions for building a large boat to survive a flood. But Dr Finkel’s pioneering work didn’t stop there. Through another series of enthralling discoveries he has been able to decode the story of the Flood in ways which offer unanticipated revelations to readers of THE ARK BEFORE NOAH.” Amazon.

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Almost every ancient culture has some kind of “Great Flood” myth. And there is substantial geologic evidence for at least one. Considering the flooding at the end of the last real ice age (+/- 10,000 years ago), and taking note that the Earth’s climate has been relatively cyclical for some time (geologic time), earlier ice ages could have caused more and/or wide spread flooding. It is very likely that there was a Great Flood, or more than one, whether caused by warmer temperatures melting glaciers, tectonic or volcanic events or some combination of these. The various myths make for interesting reading, especially from an anthropological viewpoint.

  28. fly44d
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    The ark is like the monolith in 2001, it’s bigger inside than the outside and impervious to external forces like water and waves! Duh! It’s magic! Fun movie, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and The Shining with a touch of Cosmos. I enjoyed it even though I got smote with food poisoning in the middle of it. Maybe because I was wearing my “There’s probably No God” t-shirt?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      Or the Tardis? Which would also explain why the waminals didn’t starve in the 40 days or year or whatever it was… for them it was only a few hours before the Doc… err, Noah couldn’t stand the smell any longer and fast-forwarded to the end of the Flood to let them out. (Could also explain how they all got collected beforehand and redistributed after…)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 31, 2014 at 2:45 am | Permalink

        [Back at Comment #4:]

        Diana MacPherson:
        We’ve talked about this before

        And we will again. And again. Etc.

        You are so right… 😦

        (I hate it when that happens…)

  29. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Right on cue; I hope everyone saw today’s SMBC cartoon.

  30. Posted March 30, 2014 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    This story is palpably false. I know this for a fact. I just got rejected for a rental permit on my multiple family dwelling in suburban New York because the window in my basement (not where the tenant lives) don’t meet modern standards for egress. You think PETA would let Noah put all those animals on the ark with no permit? Highly unlikely…

  31. Dale Franzwa
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    What about all the freshwater fish that can’t survive in salt water? Did Noah keep them in an aquarium?

    • Chris
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 3:26 am | Permalink

      No, because magic!

  32. Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    “It’s dangerous disinformation,” he told his 10 million radio listeners.”

    That might be the most ironic comment ever uttered by a human being.

  33. Posted March 31, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    A fb friend posted this in response to when I shared this post –
    “If this God made the whole universe, then surely keeping a box afloat and keeping animals alive through all that would be easy. Anything miraculous would not make sense to anyone who doesn’t believe such a God exists. I don’t know how else to explain the current-day miracles I’ve seen with my own eyes – deaf people instantly can hear, wheelchair-bound man stands up and walks, tumours physically disappear…when these people were prayed for.“

    …No hope for humanity =x What is preposterous is this friend has a biology degree..somehow she pretended to overlook how the Fact of evolution contradicts the bible. *sigh*

  34. Kevin
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Friend of mine saw it. Said the first half was cool because of all the CGI.

    Second half was boring — because it was about being stuck in a boat with all those animals.

    At least Emma Watson is in it — something pretty to look at during those long months at sea.

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      At least Emma Watson is in it — something pretty to look at during those long months at sea.

      Except that she has snot coming out her nose half the time from (acting like she’s)crying.

  35. Posted March 31, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Some CFI friends of mine mentioned that the movie is also crazy-violent, which I guess is sort of expected, but sort of that it almost revels in it. Also, like the source material, it has next to no plot, apparently.

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 31, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      If the human population had become so vile (and I guess the animals, also) as to rate extermination, how could you be surprised at violence?

  36. lisa parker
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I have a couple of comments concerning the comments the reviewers and “Christian” leaders (?) have made about this movie:
    I have never seen nor heard anything that says a ‘righteous’ man must be sane. Looking back at human history, I don’t think those two traits coincided often. Why would any ‘sane’ man lock himself and his family in a box with a lot of dangerous animals (especially since the trailers depict children on the crew?) Even if there was a way to keep the animals confined, the feces and urine would have produce toxic levels of various pathogens and gases, and the construction of the ark doesn’t look like it was built to allow for easy or efficient cleaning or keeping any food or fodder untainted. And even if Noah was sane before he got into the ark and closed the doors, he would have stayed that way long.
    Most of the trailers make me think it would have been better titled”Snakes on an Arc.”
    And there is a possibility that you, Professor, have made a few errors or not carefully read this story. The ark in Genesis is described pretty much as depicted in the movie: just a really big box. I don’t remember reading about any use of ballast for stability, but for realism sake (if you are looking for any realism here), I would think it pretty much essential.
    But your major objections always go back to the absolute impossibly of getting all these “kinds” of animals aboard. This could well be one of those misinterpretations of an ancient and obscure language. Perhaps he was instructed to bring only the “kind” animals. There would likely been plenty of room for those.
    The Great Biblical Epics films have always made for High Drama and state of the art special effects, as have Historical Epics, with about the same degree of accuracy and attention to what actually happened. Think about “The Greatest Story Ever Told” or the “Ten Commandments” (the angel of death gave me nightmares for years, but Yule Brenner nearly naked made up for a lot.) And maybe the best of ever made, “The History of the World Part I.” I can understand that your heritage might not have allowed you to appreciate it, but the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ scene was priceless.
    And we can only hope that the billions of human and animal corpse and rotting vegetation had been sufficiently eaten or deteriorated before Noah and his bunch disembarked.
    But the major drawback for me is that I have a hard time with anyone playing Noah other that Bill Cosby.

  37. wiseape108
    Posted April 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Is this a prequel to Master and Commander?

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] A. O. Scott’s review of “Noah” in the New York Times starts with a nice headline: And, contrary to what I expected of the movie (I should have known better given that the director was Darren Aronofsky), Scott gives the movie a thumbs-up. [Read more] […]

%d bloggers like this: