The Last Temptation of Noah

Barb Wire

Now the serpent was craftier than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”Genesis 3:1–5

Every effective deception has an element of truth to it.

When the serpent promised Eve she would be like God knowing good from evil if she disobeyed God, he was right from a certain point of view. After all, following each day of the creation God said it was “good.” Since it was all good there was no evil, there was no reason for Eve to know the difference between the two.

Only once she and Adam chose evil would they know the difference, for they had ushered evil into the world through their disobedience. So the serpent kept his promise, but it was a promise with tragic consequences for all of existence, which he not so coincidentally failed to notify them of beforehand.

In the Garden the serpent spoke to Adam and Eve with forked tongue. As does Darren Aronofsky’s Noah speak to us today.

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I took my oldest to see this film as a critical-thinking exercise, but it might not take much critical thinking to point out just how silly and self-contradictory the movie is at times. I’d like to call the movie a heresy, but at least heresies have a point to them.

This movie is a poster child for the post-modern age—it attempts to say everything simultaneously, which means it says almost nothing. It’s an agent of moral chaos. This movie attempts to insult every moral absolute except the absoluteness of man, which shouldn’t be surprising since its mastermind Darren Aronofsky is an atheist.

Like a typical atheist would, the movie blames God (referred to throughout as simply “the Creator”) for making man at all, then not doing anything to stop man from the wickedness he chooses, and then demands that man gets to make his own choices despite his wickedness.

Huh?

Like a typical atheist would, the movie’s main villain claims he’s only “giving life and taking it” as the Creator does, so why is it wrong when he does it but it’s right when the Creator does? No answer is given and the question is left unanswered.

Huh?

The movie’s villains boast that man gets to determine his own fate not the heavens, and the movie says that disobedience is what led to man’s downfall. But then the allegedly heroic climax comes from Noah taking his fate in his own hands.

Huh?

The movie turns Noah into a homicidal, sex selective baby murderer because “the Creator made him do it.” And then when Noah disobeys “the Creator’s” nefarious edict to slaughter his own grandchildren, he is blessed by that same Creator with dry land.

Huh?

All of this is accomplished via a not-so-clever, serpentesque bait-and-switch in the plot.

If you can get past the silliness of the rock creatures and the fact they look like clay-mation from 1993, the first act is somewhat promising. Sure, it’s not the most Biblically accurate version of Noah, but the spirit of the Bible story is there—man is wicked and deserves judgment from God. Also the environmental message is not as heavy-handed as I was expecting. It’s there, but presented in the context of man’s overall wickedness in other areas as well.

Thus, about halfway through the movie you’re starting to admire the shiny fruit the serpent asks you to try. You start thinking to yourself it can’t be that bad, and maybe all the fuss comes from a bunch of purist fuddy-duddies who are never satisfied with anything other than the King James Version.

And then just as you’re about to take a bite of the apple, the movie goes off the rails in act two.

Act two centers around Noah being told by the Creator that his family must perish along with everyone else, and the earth will be reborn without man. As a result, Noah refuses to bring along wives for two of his three sons, which is a clear contradiction of the Bible account. The Bible clearly says that God provided Noah’s sons with wives, and they took their wives on the ark with them. In the movie Noah does this so that the earth can be reborn without mankind. This divergence from the Biblical text provides the key to the climatic plot line of the movie, and perhaps its only consistent attempt at a real message.

In order to fulfill the Creator’s request that all mankind be vanquished, Noah leaves a young woman that would’ve been the wife to his son Ham in a forest trap to be trampled. When Noah learns the wife of his son Shem is pregnant, he promises to fulfill the Creator’s request to kill his grandchild if it’s a female that could eventually become a mother. Thus is born the first “war on women.” In fact, at the end of the movie Ham walks away alone, still with no wife and no hope of one since everyone else is dead. Aronofsky’s Creator is one prickly son of a gun.

Having to perform such injustice as ordered by the Creator drives Noah mad, a la Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. Only by disobeying the order to kill his grandchildren does the suffering end. So disobedience causes human suffering, and then disobedience relieves it. But the “good disobedience” comes when Noah realizes the Creator is wrong, and the Creator thanks him for the correction with a rainbow. God is as hopeless and confused in this move as is man.

The only clear point of the movie is Aronofsky the atheist believes mankind is better off left alone, both in terms of origins and his daily life. In Aronofsky’s world, moral confusion is found by trying to follow an unjust Creator’s capricious edicts. Bearing the image of God is not a blessing to Aronofsky, but a curse. Man’s problems all stem from trying to do what the Creator calls us to do. The movie even says the root of all the evil in the age of Noah is following the Creator’s command to “subdue the earth” and believing we are superior to the animals.

It’s clear Aronofsky had complete contempt for the source material, and then the studio got caught with its pants down once the die was cast financially. This movie is not an evangelistic tool anymore than the Last Temptation of Christ was. Frankly, it’s so over the top and confusing as a story telling device, your unsaved friends are likely to reject it for different reasons. It will seem silly and ridiculous to them, as atheism is to 98% of Americans. This movie is best flushed down the toilet, forgotten it was ever made. It’s a bowel movement on celluloid.

I even tried to watch it through the eyes of an unbeliever to find something redemptive about it, and I could not. For the life of me I cannot figure out why some people whose opinions I respect are endorsing this movie under any circumstances. Endorsing this movie is like our church fathers endorsing false Gnostic “gospels” because “even though they’re a total bastardization of the truth at least they’re a conversation starter.” Instead, our church fathers responded by writing works like Against Heresies to confront such lies. But I guess they just weren’t as enlightened or interested in cultural engagement as we are.

If the movie has a core message it’s that man is wicked but so is God, and God will actually bless our disobedience once we figure that out. It turns out the only truth Aronofsky told was when he said his Noah was “the least Biblical movie ever made.”

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Steve Deace
Steve Deace is one of the "Heavy Hundred" talk show hosts in America according Talkers Magazine. His influence in the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses has been profiled in much of the national media, and he's also a columnist for The Washington Times. His new book, out now and endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders, is titled Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.

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