With all the controversy surrounding the new Noah movie, many Christians, Jews, and Muslims are wondering whether they should go see the movie that was directed by atheist Darren Aronofsky and stars Russell Crowe in the lead role as the sacred mariner.
On the one side are the cultural anorexics who demand that a movie about the Bible should follow every jot and little detail from the Bible as they interpret it, without any creative license. They tend to yell "boycott!" and seem so hyper-literal in their views that they often miss the deeper poetic meaning of much figurative language in Scripture.
On the other side are the cultural gluttons who tell religious believers to shut up and go see the movie, and be happy with what Hollywood gives us instead of complaining. They tend to lump all criticism into the "angry reactionary Christian" stereotype and seem to be more against their own spiritual family members than the world that rejects their Savior.
I feel like I'm in between those two extremes. I'm the Hollywood screenwriter and novelist who wrote the blog analyzing an early script of Noah that went viral. It was quoted by all the news outlets, mostly for its negative comments while ignoring the positive ones.
Why did I do it? Because I LOVE movies, and I see their potential for both good and bad influence on our cultural values. That's why I wrote Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom and Discernment to help people decide for themselves what values and meanings they are ingesting in their media consumption.
But I've also studied the story of Noah for many years, wrote an Amazon category bestselling novel called Noah Primeval, and set up a website, www.noahprimeval.com for all things Noah. My fans want to know about these things, and so do I.
To See or Not To See?
On the one hand, there is the argument that we should not give our money to Hollywood studios who will only be encouraged to make more movies that twist our sacred stories unless they listen more carefully to their audiences. It seems Christians are the only politically correct victims that are still acceptable to villainize in the media. These Christians supported The Passion of the Christ and Son of God, but they question Noah and the upcoming Exodus movie by atheist director Ridley Scott. They are not the intolerant bigots that some want to make them out to be. They care about their sacred story being subverted into a secular worldview. That is a legitimate concern.
But on the other hand, I also understand the argument that this movie is an opportunity to engage with the culture. Good or bad movie that it will be, Noah is opening the discussion about a topic that is normally ignored or scoffed at in our culture. This is a Gospel opportunity like never before. Christians can and should seize the moment to talk about the God of Noah who rescues us through the ark of Jesus Christ from our sins. Now, you can't very well talk intelligently about a movie you haven't seen. People won't respect your view if you haven't. But if you have seen it, then you can show people how actually open-minded Christians are by saying what you liked and did not like about the movie. After all, no movie is all bad or all good. Most are mixed bags of good and bad. You can explain where you think the movie diverts from the Bible. You can encourage them to read the original story, since everyone knows the book is usually better than the movie (except for Forrest Gump and the Godfather). And you can do so respectfully and with a winsome attitude of tolerance that atheists usually do not have for you.
I will be seeing it because I am a screenwriter and blogger about movies to help forward the conversation about the worldviews and meanings of movies. And of course, I have my own Noah Primeval novel and website, so my fans want to know. Plus, I don't have to agree with everything in a movie to appreciate what is good in it.
So my advice is that if you really don't trust Hollywood or are not sure you do in this particular case, then keep an eye on my Movieblog, because I will be writing a review on the opening release date of the movie with my analysis. Until then, I can't recommend or not recommend a movie because I haven't seen it.
If you do want to see the movie, then on the next post, I will give advice on the kind of things to look for when watching a movie to determine the worldview and values it is espousing through the art of storytelling. It's not always obvious, but it is always there.
Note: Noah opens in theaters March 28.
Brian Godawa is a Hollywood screenwriter and author of the Amazon bestselling novel, "Noah Primeval," a Biblical fantasy about Noah's Flood. He has also authored the book Hollywood Worldviews that has become a textbook in many Christian film programs in schools and universities across the country. Follow his blog on http://godawa.com/movieblog/ or on twitter at @briangodawa.