We are standing on cusp of the March 28th theatrical release of Noah, a Bible film that has come under fire as being only loosely based on a true story. For years we have prayed that Hollywood begin producing Christian movies. Is their first big budget Bible movie in years a slap in the face of the Church, or are they actually doing us a number of favors?
What Is Really Important?
Last week I was at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention and there was a panel discussion concerning NOAH and its biblical accuracy. It is an important subject, one that we are all but obligated to weigh in on.
You can tell from the movie trailer alone that Paramount Pictures has taken a large share of obvious liberties with this film. And if you follow the analyst’s you will also note that there are strong Hollywood influenced undertones that are completely fabricated out of thin air. However, I want to pose a question to the Christian community.
What do we really want in a big budget Noah movie?
Let’s be honest. Before we take up any stones, let’s define what would actually make us all happy. Or rather what would make most of us happy anyway. I have pieced together three top answers:
- A film that is completely Biblically accurate
- A film that is mostly Biblically accurate with some of the blanks cautiously filled in so that it could be a better flowing visual story
- A film that is based on the Biblical account but is shot in such a way that it is exciting and engaging to non-Christians
These are pretty much the top three answers for those who are honest. However many want all three, or at least two out of three. But we cannot have our cake and eat it too on this one. Number 1 and 3 are mutually exclusive, sorry to say it. The Biblical account needs dialog to fit into the film format. It needs some details breathed into the characters.
The Details Were Real But Not Recorded
Noah spent decades building the ark, and you can be certain he spoke to people every day. You can be sure there were emotions, feelings, and likely even some drama. The Bible does not record those details but we know they happened. In fact the Bible does not record Noah speaking a single word until years after the flood, not until the story of the ark is finished. Even Sign & Sound (who did the best stage production of Noah that I have ever heard of) had to create hundreds of lines of dialog just to tell to the story. Paramount has not done anything new or unheard of.
So if you want a film that is completely Biblically accurate, Noah is not going to work out. Unless you are willing to settle for a short awkward feature with a main character who can speak but doesn’t.
If you want a film that is mostly Biblically accurate with some of the blanks cautiously filled in so that it could be a better flowing visual story, then Noah could work. At least this option is possible for the big screen. However, this type of big box office film is going to struggle to reach the lost, the backslidden, and the inactive. It is just hard to create the mainstream buzz needed to break past religious barriers.
The only strong option for actually “spreading” the Gospel (not telling it to the churched, but actually spreading to people who do not have it) is a film that is based on the Biblical account but is shot in such a way that it is exciting and engaging to non-Christians. This is the only strong vehicle for reaching the un-churched.
This movie is not a Sunday school teaching tool. It is a thrust into a Godless culture that has the potential to reach people who are not going to a local church’s movie night. Can you even imagine the impact this film could have on people who go home afterwards and try to go to bed and God brings the thought to their mind “That happened…”
Still Truth In It
This modern mainstream telling of Noah is positioned to open windows into people’s hearts that God can use to initiate marvelous works.
And let’s not forget, Hollywood is actually making a movie about the Bible. They may be mixing in a lot, but if there is still truth in it, then there is still power also.
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