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End of the World Nightmare


Plot Overview

“Noah” opens with a big bang from “In the beginning [when] there was nothing” to the Creation of the world in seven days, with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They fell into sin by eating the forbidden fruit so were cast out of the garden. “Adam and Eve had three sons. Cain killed Abel and fled to the east.” The (angelic) watchers descended to Earth and “helped Cain's descen­dants build a great industrial civilization.”

Lamech on some scrubby hill has recounted this story to his young son Noah. He shows him the serpent's skin, and tells him, “Today that totem passes to you.” But they are interrupted by the arrival of an armed band led by one Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) who snatches it and says, “This relic belongs to the line of Cain now. The line of Seth ends here.” He kills Lamech, but Noah escapes.

After Noah is grown and married, God gives him a sign that, “He's going to destroy the world.” Noah's grand­father Methuselah tells him, “My father Enoch told me that if man continues in his [evil] ways, all life would be destroyed.” God is going to cleanse the world with water. Noah is to build an ark in which to preserve two of every kind of creature to repopulate the Earth with, along with his family, (Gen. 5:32) “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

At this point the movie gets creative. In "The True Record," a companion book to the Bible, we read, (Jasher 5:12–16)

Noah the son of Lamech refrained from taking a wife in those days, to beget children, for he said, Surely now God will destroy the earth, wherefore then shall I beget children? And Noah was a just man, he was perfect in his generation, and the Lord chose him to raise up seed from his seed upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife.

Also, from Dr. Ide (9):

Noah married Naamah late in life. She was 93 years older than he, and a close relative—probably an aunt. Noah put off marrying until his tribal yahwehs (elohim or “gods”) selected his spouse and ordered him to marry her.

In the movie Naamah (Jennifer Connelly) looks to be in her 20s and Noah (Russell Crowe) is middle aged, but no matter. They lived longer back then. (Jasher 5:32–36)

And thou shalt choose for thy sons three maidens, from the daughters of men, and they shall be wives to thy sons. And Noah rose up, and he made the ark, in the place where God had commanded him, and Noah did as God had ordered him. In his five hundred and ninety-fifth year Noah commenced to make the ark, and he made the ark in five years, as the Lord had commanded. Then Noah took the three daughters of Eliakim, son of Methuselah, for wives for his sons, as the Lord had commanded Noah. And it was at that time Methuselah the son of Enoch died, nine hundred and sixty years old was he, at his death.

(Gen. 7:7) “And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.”

In the movie, however, Noah dragged his feet about procuring wives for his sons. Shem (Douglas Booth) had Ila (Emma Watson) who'd been adopted into their family, but she was not a “real woman;” he couldn't have children by her to raise a family. Noah's other two sons had no wives, and Noah balked at getting them from the meat market (Trader: “I have two girls to trade.”) Mean­while, God was culling the herd, (Jasher 5:21) “And all the sons of men who knew the Lord, died in that year before the Lord brought evil upon them; for the Lord willed them to die, so as not to behold the evil that God would bring upon their brothers and relatives, as he had so declared to do.” Noah let it go so long that there were no good women left, except maybe one, but good luck to Ham (Logan Lerman) trying to find her, and then bring her back to the ark before she dies too. It's a matter of historical record that Noah (despite God telling his family to be fruitful and multiply) had no more children after the flood. Perhaps it was on account of old age, who knows? In the movie Naamah was so mad at Noah, she with­held sexual favors from him. When it starts to rain, we know they are in BIG trouble, because “There will be no wives.” And where does that leave us?


Director Darren Aronofsky admitted in a radio interview that he took some liberties with the flood story, but he said there is a reason for every­thing that appears on screen. Let's try to decon­struct what he did.

There is a strong implication that the line of Cain caused the problem, and although there's undoubtedly some truth to that, both the movie and the Bible say that the whole world (save a righteous few) was corrupted with sin and violence, not just one line. Remember when God confronted Cain about his response to Yahwey's rejection of his offering: (Gen. 4:6–7) “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy coun­ten­ance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” He just has to do well to be accepted, and if he blows it, he can offer a sin offering. And he was still the elder brother who could lead Abel the younger. This wording is similar to what God told Eve: (Gen. 3:16b) “Unto the woman he said, … thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” the husband being the boss of his wife. Sure, Cain had to be dealt with, but he wasn't demonized.

Furthermore, in the line of the "righteous" was, (Gen. 4:26) “And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) renders it: “It was then that men began to invoke the Lord by name.” This reflects more accurately the Hebrew that it was a negative invocation, that is a curse, which if it didn't start that way, it sure ended up there in a wicked world. Especially, in this movie Tubal-cain was habitually given to criticism of God for cursing the ground to make work difficult, and for not speaking to him, etc.

How did Noah get the animals into the ark? (Jasher 6:1–7)

At that time, after the death of Methuselah, the Lord said to Noah, Go thou with thy house­hold into the ark; behold I will gather to thee all the animals of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and they shall all come and surround the ark. And thou shalt go and seat thyself by the doors of the ark, and all the beasts, the animals, and the fowls, shall assemble and place them­selves before thee, and such of them as shall come and crouch before thee, shalt thou take and deliver into the hands of thy sons, who shall bring them to the ark, and all that will stand before thee thou shalt leave. And the Lord brought this about on the next day, and animals, beasts and fowls came in great multitudes and surrounded the ark. And Noah went and seated himself by the door of the ark, and of all flesh that crouched before him, he brought into the ark, and all that stood before him he left upon earth. And a lioness came, with her two whelps, male and female, and the three crouched before Noah, and the two whelps rose up against the lioness and smote her, and made her flee from her place, and she went away, and they returned to their places, and crouched upon the earth before Noah. And the lioness ran away, and stood in the place of the lions. And Noah saw this, and wondered greatly, and he rose and took the two whelps, and brought them into the ark.

Here we see both profiling (who will crouch?) and age discrimination. The big mammals had to be taken in when they were young to make room. This profiling and discrimination were conveniently left out of the movie. Evidently some consideration was given to political correctness. But what of the humans who wanted to crowd in? (Jasher 6:15–25)

And Noah and his household, and all the living creatures that were with him, came into the ark on account of the waters of the flood, and the Lord shut him in. And all the sons of men that were left upon the earth, became exhausted through evil on account of the rain, for the waters were coming more violently upon the earth, and the animals and beasts were still sur­roun­ding the ark. And the sons of men assembled together, about seven hundred thousand men and women, and they came unto Noah to the ark. And they called to Noah, saying, Open for us that we may come to thee in the ark—and where­fore shall we die? And Noah, with a loud voice, answered them from the ark, saying, Have you not all rebelled against the Lord, and said that he does not exist? and there­fore the Lord brought upon you this evil, to destroy and cut you off from the face of the earth. Is not this the thing that I spoke to you of one hundred and twenty years back, and you would not hearken to the voice of the Lord, and now do you desire to live upon earth? And they said to Noah, We are ready to return to the Lord; only open for us that we may live and not die. And Noah answered them, saying, Behold now that you see the trouble of your souls, you wish to return to the Lord; why did you not return during these hundred and twenty years, which the Lord granted you as the determined period? But now you come and tell me this on account of the troubles of your souls, now also the Lord will not listen to you, neither will he give ear to you on this day, so that you will not now succeed in your wishes. And the sons of men approached in order to break into the ark, to come in on account of the rain, for they could not bear the rain upon them. And the Lord sent all the beasts and animals that stood round the ark. And the beasts over­powered them and drove them from that place, and every man went his way and they again scattered themselves upon the face of the earth.

From Dr. Ide (33–34):

the god who vowed to flood the earth required Noah to sit at the door to the ship and take note of those animals who were to be saved—and at the same time to look out upon all those who/which were to be destroyed in the holocaust. ¶Those who/which were to be saved had to be humble and “crouch down” before Noah. The proud were to be cast aside …

As those outside the ark attempted to break in, bears, lions and wolves appeared to tear them to pieces and consume them as well.

In the movie Tubal-cain says, “I have men at my back, you stand alone and defy me?” and Noah replies, “I'm not alone!” The movie takes a little bit of liberty with Noah's backup but still gives us a good action show featuring CGI to advantage.

Dr. Ide declares, “many of the early records about Noah and his kin, such as The Generations of Noah, and the Book of the Generations of Adam … incor­por­ated accounts of infanti­cide, parenti­cide, and fratri­cide” (11). It's true that the movie takes some liberty in bringing some drama into the ark that wasn't in the Bible, but it wasn't far off from other records either.

What drama they had was a big storm: (Jasher 6:28–33)

And the ark floated upon the face of the waters, and it was tossed upon the waters so that all the living creatures within were turned about like pottage in a cauldron. And great anxiety seized all the living creatures that were in the ark, and the ark was like to be broken. And all the living creatures that were in the ark were terrified, and the lions roared, and the oxen lowed, and the wolves howled, and every living creature in the ark spoke and lamented in its own language, so that their voices reached to a great distance, and Noah and his sons cried and wept in their troubles; they were greatly afraid that they had reached the gates of death. And Noah prayed unto the Lord, and cried unto him on account of this, and he said, O Lord help us, for we have no strength to bear this evil that has encompassed us, for the waves of the waters have surrounded us, mischievous torrents have terrified us, the snares of death have come before us; answer us, O Lord, answer us, light up thy countenance toward us and be gracious to us, redeem us and deliver us. And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Noah, and the Lord remembered him. And a wind passed over the earth, and the waters were still and the ark rested.

And from the Bible, (Gen. 8:1) “And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged.” This is the point where the movie “Noah” has its personal dramas resolved and the story gets back on track with the original.

Dr. Ide writes, “Noah feared that any inter­course within each species in the ark would lead to an explosion of the number of that species and thus for­bade all beings ([human] and animal) from coitus. Only three of the passengers refused: Noah's son Ham who feared that if he didn't have coitus with his wife his brothers Shem and Japheth would discover that their sister-in-law was already pregnant by a giant, the dog and a rooster. To expose their crime of coitus during this ‘holy voyage of abstinence’ the yahweh [i.e. God] of Noah turned Ham's skin black, lengthened his penis and made him so lustful that he would engage in sex at any instance” (36). I heard of the same punish­ment described once on a German short­wave broad­cast discussing Jewish beliefs, but it added also that because of his insolent words, Ham's lips were thickened, and because of his perversion his hair was turned kinky. Don't worry. “Noah” is politically correct. Nobody is black; there are no Negroes, let alone manu­factured ones. Every­body is lily white.

There is, however, an incident portrayed after landfall that's taken from the Bible: (Gen. 9:20–23) “And Noah began to be an husband­man, and he planted a vine­yard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” (“Hide your eyes, Japheth.”) The movie has Ham staring at his drunken father with defiant disdain. For a man who spared only the crouching animals, it does not bode well to regard him so. The story continues, (Gen. 9:24–27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Canaan was the son of Ham whose descendants settled in Africa, but the descendants of Shem include the Jews (Semites) and white Europeans.

The politically correct movie doesn't have this curse, just Ham going into voluntary segregation, apartheid. Instead of Noah cursing his grand­son, what it does is have Methuselah earlier accepting Ila as his honorary grand­daughter and then blessing her, effecting a positive change in her body. This will make the audience sympathetic to such patriarchal powers. And the plot makes us glad Noah saved humanity at all, and if one branch ends up subservient, well, Ham was a trouble­maker all along.

Noah's dilemma was that, “The evils of mankind will not live in this new Eden,” but his sons were no angels: “Shem is blinded by desire, Ham is covetous, and Japheth lives only to please.” Western civilization desiring more and more things might be best served by capitalism, though that's not an Edenic ideal. An uppity (covetous) subgroup who desires what others have might seem (to Noah) to rate some kind of handicap allowing them to be profiled. Dr. Ide states, “A Semite, Shem reveled in doing as little as possible. He waited for others to do his toil for him as he paid them unfair wages and worked them long hours” (63). Tubal-cain in the movie was an influence on Ham, telling him, “This is your world, Ham, seize it.” MLK in his "I have a dream" speech said that the Negro would not be content until the Whites shared with him the paradise they live in. An alternate Negro leader Booker T. Washington in an 1895 speech—as printed by T. Harry Williams et al—said, “in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may over­look the fact that the masses of us are to live by the production of our hands, … that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor” (79). It was Tubal-cain who complained about the hard work God gave him.

Production Values

“Noah” (2014) was directed by Darren Aronofsky. It was written also by him and by Ari Handel. It stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins. Russel Crowe as Noah carried it by his sheer intensity, although the other actors did not come up short, they just had smaller roles.

It was fairly long at 138 min. and it wasn't fast moving, so you'll have to marshal some intrinsic interest not to succumb to boredom. It's a very dark world they are leaving and they don't spend much time in the new one before curtain time, so don't look for a peppy feel-good experience.

Production designer Mark Friedberg asked the director which cubit to use (There are several averaging about 18 inches.) The director told him this is Hollywood, use the biggest. The sets are pretty expansive and impressive. The CGI was extremely well done. All those animals were picture perfect. The “watchers,” a term from the Book of Enoch for (fallen) angels, were drawn for ease of computer simulation, it seems to me.

The music could have done more to heighten the tension, but you can't have everything. Exotic back­grounds from Iceland were used. There were some nifty montages of the Creation and early Earth history. The story has continuity if not total familiarity from our Sunday School lessons.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

I thought “Noah” was suitably epic, and it made me appreciate the historical man and the burdens he carried. A lot of the material derives from extra-canonical sources. It may seem like it's made up out of whole cloth, but it's not. The one major departure from the historical account, the matter of the wives, eventually gets sorted out to rejoin the historical record, and there's a reason for that: a gambit to allow the movie to treat with racial relations that derive from that time without offending anyone or being politically incorrect. If you like historical epics and you're not too picky, you should like this one.

Works Cited

Scripture taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

The Jewish Study Bible: Tanakh. New York: Oxford University Press. New Jewish Publication Society 2nd ed. of 1999. Print.

Williams, T. Harry, Richard N. Current, and Frank Freidel. A History of the United States [since 1865]. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960. Print.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed fun.

Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age.

Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects.

Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day.

Overall product rating: Four stars out of Five.

Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat.