Noah was a giant

Noah and the six-armed giants

As of April 3, Oscar winner Russel Crowe will set out as "Noah" in the cinema to save mankind and animals from the flood. Timo Roller has been dealing with the story of the ark for years. It reveals how much Bible we can expect on the big screen.

Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly were together in front of the camera 13 years ago: their film "A Beautiful Mind" won four Oscars. Now the two play the main roles in the film adaptation of one of the most famous stories of all: the rescue of mankind from the flood. Crowe plays Noah, Connelly his wife Naama. Darren Aronofosky ("Black Swan", "The Wrestler") is responsible for the script and direction. He is famous for his impressive and often disturbing productions.

Wait a minute: Noah's wife is called Naama? Biblical connoisseurs will not only frown at this point: After Noah's statement "I am not alone!" To his archenemy in the previously published trailer still sounds like a creed, a surprise will reveal itself in the film at this point: Noah gets help of six-armed giants who help him build the ark and defend him against enemies: the Nephilim.

Many believers may be quick to dismiss the movie as grandiose humbug. After the first test demonstrations in the USA, Christians and Jews expressed themselves critically and called for a boycott. The trailer is a big fraud, because it gives the impression that the film adheres closely to the biblical template.

Careful references

What is interesting is that Naama is actually mentioned in the Bible - as the sister of Tubal-Cain. [1] Nowhere is it stated that she was Noah's wife. However, this assumption goes back to rabbinical Judaism and is not entirely out of thin air. Naama is the only woman in biblical prehistory who is mentioned for no apparent reason. This at least suggests that it actually played a special role.

I have the impression that director Darren Aronofsky has dealt very carefully with the Bible and other religious traditions. He describes the prehistory of the six-armed giants in the comic, which is based on the screenplay of the film [2]: They came to earth as fallen angels to get involved with people. This can be seen in the trailer when fireballs fall from the sky.

In the Bible, right before the Flood report, there is a short note on the "sons of God" and "daughters of man", from whose connection the "giants" emerged, in Hebrew "Nephilim". [3] These Nephilim were "the heroes of ancient times, the most famous." What exactly is meant by these beings is not clear from the report and there is great disagreement about them. [4] On the one hand supernatural beings could be meant, on the other hand people who acted against God's ideas. In the apocryphal book "Book of Enoch" [5], which was written in pre-Christian times but certainly does not have the authority of the Bible, the "Nephilim" are discussed in great detail. They are described there as "fallen angels". The names used in the film for the six-armed giants are obviously taken from these scriptures.

The crazy environmentalist

Much of Hollywood's Noah version seems to be based on the Bible, like the size of the ark or the considerable number of animals. The film also addresses the darker side of history, which is seldom brought to mind. For example, Noah says: "When they come, they come in despair and in great numbers". When the rain sets in, people rush to the ark and plead for rescue. How terrible this judgment of God must really have been! And how often do Christians ignore these aspects. The artistic gaze of a non-Christian on one of the greatest stories in the Bible can open up completely new facets for believing viewers and stimulate us to reflect.

From my point of view, the biggest negative point of the film will be the relationship between man, creation and creator. From the comic books it becomes clear that the sin of people against God is probably only a marginal topic in the film. The focus is on guilt towards creation. Russell Crowe as Noah thinks that a post-Flood earth without man - in the image of God - would be preferable. The "fate of creation" would be better if people only saved the animals in the ark and would not reproduce again afterwards. Noah's relationship with God hardly seems to play a role; the task of building an ark comes from gloomy visions. On the Internet, the film Noah was referred to as a "crazy environmentalist" [6]. Metuschelach (played by Anthony Hopkins) gives the impression of a mysterious magician.

More than a myth

And yet: why not look at a biblical topic - with a keen eye and an alert mind - from a completely new perspective? Assuming you have good nerves - based on the design of the comic, I think it will only be released from the age of 16 as likely - the film is ideally suited to get into conversation with cinema fans about the Christian faith.

Superheroes, monsters, Middle-earth - moviegoers are used to fantasy characters. And the media, looking at the film, may give the impression that this is just pious fantasy. Few today believe that the story of Noah, the Ark, and the Flood was more than a religious myth.

I am convinced that the biblical narrative is true. It is one of the best-attested stories, known from millennia-old traditions and confirmed by discoveries on cuneiform tablets. The most famous is the Gilgamesh epic, which was deciphered anew in the 19th century after more than 2500 years. In addition, a British scientist recently presented an »Ark plaque« which contains precise information on the construction of a ship in order to save people and animals from a flood. These building instructions were written down around 1700 BC! And as many unanswered questions as there are about Noah's Ark - there are important arguments in favor of the fact that a gigantic catastrophe once hit mankind and that only a few survived in a ship because Noah found grace before God. [7]

In any case, I'll let myself be drawn into it when the furious storyteller Darren Aronofsky brings one of the greatest stories of humanity to the screen with some of the best actors of our time. And I will work to ensure that as many of my fellow human beings as possible recognize: This is more than just entertainment.

A current review of mine will appear at the start of the film on the blog of the »Decision«

Timo Roller

[1] Genesis 4:22

[2] The first three of four volumes have already been published by Egmont Comic Collection

[3] Genesis 6: 1-4

[4] see Rienecker et al. (Ed.): Lexikon zur Bibel 2013, p. 973

[5] Apocrypha are writings that have canonical status in the Greek and Latin Old Testament, but not in the Hebrew Bible - and thus not in the Bible translations of the Protestant churches. In addition, there are also apocryphal writings that have never achieved canonical validity in Judaism or in the Church. The latter also includes the »Book of Enoch«, which is available free of charge as an e-book at: www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4013

[6] http://godawa.com/movieblog/darren-aronofskys-noah-environmentalist-wacko/

[7] Genesis 6: 8

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