In preparation for the deluge (pun intended) of questions we are sure to receive, several members of the GotQuestions.org staff went and saw the Noah movie on the day of its release. We had heard a lot of feedback, mostly negative, from Christian leaders who were able to see the movie a little early. The director's comment that it would be "the least biblical biblical movie ever made" also caught our attention.
My reaction … the director is probably right. It likely is the least biblical biblical movie ever made. On top of that, it isn’t even a good movie. In regards to specific review points, I guess I'll start by breaking down what is biblical and what is unbiblical in the movie.
Biblical aspects of the Noah movie:
As tempted as I am to leave this section blank, there are a few items that agree with what the Bible says.
The six "days" of Creation are mentioned (Genesis 1).
Adam and Eve are specially created by God (Genesis 2). Unfortunately, the movie presents the rest of life developing through evolution.
The Fall was Adam and Eve eating forbidden fruit, with a snake somehow involved (Genesis 3).
Humanity is presented as being exceedingly evil (Genesis 6:5). Although, other than the fact that humanity was eating meat and destroying the environment, the only other evil that is specifically hinted at is in a scene that apparently portrays rape and sex trafficking.
The Flood is global, killing all of humanity other than Noah and his family (Genesis chapters 6-8).
Two of each kind of animal is saved on the ark (Genesis 6:19). The movie neglects to mention that seven of each kind of clean (for sacrifice) animal is taken on the ark (Genesis 7:2).
A raven and a dove are released to see if dry land had reappeared (Genesis 8:7-12).
After the Flood, Noah gets drunk and naked and his sons cover him (Genesis 9:20-23).
Unbiblical aspects of the Noah movie:
Can I just say “everything else” and leave it at that? Here are some specific items.
Adam and Eve are said to have only had three sons. Genesis 5:4 says that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters.
Noah's father, Lamech, is killed by Tubal-Cain when Noah is a child. In the Bible, Lamech lived 590 years after Noah was born (Genesis 5:30).
A snakeskin, apparently from the serpent in the Garden of Eden, is passed down as a birthright in the line of Seth. A symbol of evil/Satan would never have been an heirloom in the line of humanity that was striving to be faithful to God.
A group of angels wanted to help Adam and Eve after the Fall, and therefore disobeyed God, resulting in them being cursed as "rock monsters" known as the "Watchers." These fallen angels apparently redeem themselves by defending Noah's family and the ark and are allowed back into Heaven. In the Bible, the fallen angels rebelling against God had nothing to do with them wanting to help humanity and there is no opportunity of redemption (Matthew 25:41; Jude 6).
Noah is said to be the last person in the line of Seth. In the Bible, every descendant of Seth is said to have had other sons and daughters, including Noah’s father Lamech (Genesis 5:7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 26, 30).
Part of the reason for the Flood is said to be humanity not taking care of the environment and instead destroying the world with industry. The Bible nowhere indicates that humanity's abuse of the Earth had anything to do with the Flood. Instead, the Bible points to the evil, violence, and corruption of humanity (Genesis 6:5, 11, 13).
Noah is unsure of what God wants him to do until God reveals it in a somewhat nebulous dream. In the Bible, God gives Noah very detailed instructions on what he is supposed to do (Genesis 6:14-22).
Noah does not think God wants to save humanity. Rather, Noah views himself and his family only as the means by which God preserves the animals. In the Bible, God explicitly desires to save Noah and his family so they can repopulate the earth after the Flood (Genesis 6:8; 7:1; 9:1).
Only six members of Noah’s family are on the ark: Noah, Noah's wife, Noah's sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Shem's wife. In the biblical account, all three of Noah's sons are already married and their wives are also on the ark (Genesis 7:13), eight people in all (1 Peter 3:20).
Tubal-Cain is able to sneak onto the ark. In the Bible, no one other than Noah's family is on the ark. There are unbiblical legends about someone else being on the ark, but in the legends, it is Og, King of Bashan, not Tubal-Cain.
Tubal-Cain, in an attempt to get Ham to partner with him, teaches Ham that God gave humanity dominion over the earth and everything in it. This is entirely true (Genesis 1:26-28). But, the insinuation of the concept being promoted by Tubal-Cain is that it is evil to believe that God created humanity to have dominion over the earth.
Noah, convinced that God does not want humanity to continue, nearly kills the two baby daughters of Shem. The biblical Noah is not conflicted about whether God wants humanity to survive and would never desire to murder his granddaughters (Genesis 6:8; 7:1).
After the Flood, Noah feels like he has failed God and therefore lives isolated from his family until Shem's wife corrects him. Again, in the biblical account, Noah knew exactly what God wanted him to do.
After the Flood, Ham leaves, apparently never to return and die alone. The Bible does not say anything about Ham leaving and records Ham having numerous descendants (Genesis 10:6-20).
Conclusions about the Noah movie:
I am certain there are more unbiblical aspects of the movie that I am not remembering, and there might be more aspects of the movie that were biblical. But, that is beside the point. I simply do not understand why the directors/producers decided to make such drastic changes to the biblical account. I understand the need to take artistic license. After all, the biblical flood account only comprises four chapters. Clearly, some content, scenes, and dialogue would need to be added to make a 2+ hour movie.
But, artistic license can be taken without directly contradicting what the Bible says. For example:
Noah could be presented as struggling with whether humanity should be allowed to continue without him being portrayed as a psychotic baby murderer. The Bible does not present Noah as having this struggle, but it is conceivable, likely even, that Noah and his family would have some emotional turmoil.
How about having the ark defended by God Himself, by holy angels, by Noah and his sons, or even by extra animals not on board the ark? Why fallen angel rock monsters? The Bible does not record an army trying to force their way onto the ark, but it could have happened. It just would not have been fallen angels defending the ark.
It is entirely possible to create great biblical movies with appropriate degrees of artistic license. Sadly, Noah is not such a movie. At best, it is a fictional retelling loosely based on the biblical account of Noah.
Should Christians see the Noah movie? I will leave that up to your own convictions. For Christians with a solid understanding of the biblical flood account, the movie can be a powerful reminder of God's wrath against sin and God's mercy in saving us. The one scene of the movie that I found to be powerful was Noah and his family huddling inside the ark hearing the screams of the dying people outside the ark. I had never really thought about what it must have been like to be the only survivors of a global catastrophe.
But, for those without a clear understanding of what the Bible actually says, the movie is a distraction from the truth, at best. And, again, a pretty lousy movie.