Is Russell Crowe’s Noah Biblically Accurate?


Summary

  • Noah film extensively developed Noah’s family, featuring fictionalized characters to add depth to the biblical story.
  • Director Aronofsky introduced a fictional villain, Tubal-Cain, to create conflict and explore morality in the epic.
  • Aronofsky’s unique vision for Noah, influenced by his graphic novel, added fantastical elements to enhance the biblical tale.



The 2014 epic biblical drama film Noah, which is inspired by the biblical story of Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis, is a testament to the courage and imagination of director Darren Aronofsky, who first became interested in Noah’s story when Aronofsky was a child. Noah stars Russell Crowe as the film’s protagonist, a righteous man who receives mysterious visions from God of an oncoming flood and subsequently builds an ark that’s large enough to hold Noah, Noah’s family, and pairs of every kind of animal before God’s wrath is unleashed through the apocalyptic flood.

While Noah, which grossed approximately $360 million at the worldwide box office, was a commercial and critical success, Noah was criticized by religious scholars for Aronofsky’s heavy reliance on creative invention and non-biblical sources in the making of the film. The sheer brevity and vagueness of Noah’s story, which is only mentioned in four chapters of the Bible, required Aronofsky to expand and speculate upon the various spectacular elements of Noah’s story, especially regarding Noah’s Ark.


Regardless of how much Noah departs from the biblical text, through Aronofsky’s visual artistry and Crowe’s majestic performance, it still passionately and thrillingly captures the integrity and spirit of the legend of Noah. Moreover, Noah exudes a sense of timelessness and universality, which enables the movie to appeal to believers and atheists alike.


Noah’s Family Is Much More Fully Developed

Noah

Release Date
March 28, 2014

Runtime
138 Minutes


One of the biggest differences between Noah and the biblical story is how the film portrays Noah’s family. While the protagonist’s family members are only alluded to in the Bible, the movie presents Noah’s family members as fully realized characters, each of whom plays an important role in Noah’s journey. Since Noah’s father, Lamech, and grandfather, Methuselah, are only mentioned in the Bible for the purpose of establishing his genealogy, Darren Aronofsky fleshed out these characters by altering the timeline of the biblical legend. While Noah was, according to the Bible, 595 years old when his father died, he is a teenager in the film when his father is murdered.

While Methuselah, played by Anthony Hopkins, is scarcely mentioned in the Bible, in which he has the distinction of being the oldest mentioned person, Methuselah serves as Noah’s mentor in the film. After Noah dreams of the oncoming flood, Methuselah helps Noah understand the visions from God.


The most significant invented character is Noah’s wife, Naameh, who is simply referred to as Noah’s wife in the Bible. In the film, Naameh, played by Jennifer Connelly, appears as Noah’s true soul mate. Naameh consults with Noah about their children and the construction and meaning of the Ark. In the Bible, all that’s known about Noah’s unnamed wife is that she was a passenger on the Ark.

Noah Has a Fictionalized Villain

Director Darren Aronofsky felt that it was necessary to include a tangible villain for Noah in the form of Tubal-Cain, a direct descendant of Cain and master blacksmith who attempts to steal Noah’s ark by sneaking onto the Ark and attempting to turn Noah’s middle son, Ham, against him in order to have him killed.


While the character of Tubal-Cain is mentioned in the Bible, specifically as one of Cain’s descendants, the biblical stories of Noah and Tubal-Cain are unconnected, and it’s unclear whether Noah and Tubal-Cain even lived in the same era. Moreover, while Noah presents Tubal-Cain as a stowaway aboard the Ark, where Tubal-Cain hides among Noah’s animals, there is no mention in the Bible of there being any stowaways on the Ark.

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However, while the character of Tubal-Cain, who is played as a young man by Finn Wittrock and an older man by Ray Winstone, was almost entirely invented by Aronofsky, Tubal-Cain embodies Aronofsky’s overall creative approach to Noah, which is a study of complex morality and stark contrasts. While the depraved and seemingly insane Tubal-Cain embodies the wickedness of humanity, he also appears in the film as a highly intelligent man who is consumed by feelings of abandonment, doubt, and fear.


Noah Was Inspired By Darren Aronofsky’s Graphic Novel

While the vague elements of Noah’s story in the Bible required director Darren Aronofsky to invent many character and plot details for Noah, Noah has relatively few scenes in which the film directly contradicts the biblical story. The most notable exception is the degree of clarity with which Noah receives and interprets his visions and warnings from God.

In the film, Noah, after receiving mysterious visions of the oncoming great flood, struggles to make sense of the nightmarish sensations that he has of drowning. However, in the Bible, God communicates with Noah much more clearly and directly, in terms of informing Noah of precisely how and when the flood will arrive and what Noah must do to save his family. God even includes detailed building instructions and dimensions for building the Ark.


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To visually enhance Noah’s story, Aronofsky added The Watchers, massive rock monsters that are revealed to be fallen angels who were left stranded on Earth as punishment for helping Adam and Eve, after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating the Forbidden Fruit. While the Bible makes a brief reference to the existence of giant creatures on Earth during Noah’s era, the rock monsters were entirely invented.

The inclusion of fantastical elements in Noah is a testament to the influence of Aronofsky’s 2014 hardcover graphic novel of the same name, in which Aronofsky gives Noah’s story a science-fiction feel. This is consistent with Aronofsky’s ultimate directorial vision for Noah, which Aronofsky has accurately described as being the least biblical-biblical film ever made.




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