By now, you have surely heard that Hollywood is releasing "NOAH" this Friday, March 28th. The movie stars Russell Crowe, as Noah, as well as several other A-list actors such as Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, and others. You are probably also keenly aware of the firestorm of criticism this movie has already received from Christian Leaders - some who have seen the movie and some who have not.
There are leaders calling for a boycott of the movie, declaring it heresy. There are those who have even suggested this movie will corrupt a generation of children from knowing the truth of the biblical account. Admittedly, it is directed by Darren Aronofsky, who also directed "Black Swan" and does not consider the movie to be a "Christian" film. From interviews I have read and seen, Aronofsky's "Noah" takes on quite a bit of creative license and assumption. While I may not agree with all of the additions and changes that the story has undergone, I do have a bit of sympathy for a Director trying to take a story that the Bible devoted only four chapters to and turn it into a two-hour epic film.
Here are several thoughts I have:
1) The idea of Christians "boycotting" anything gets me frustrated. That term in and of itself has such a "we are against you" taste to it - it just bothers me. It is one thing to decide not to see a movie. It is also a great idea to choose to speak to others about whether or not they should go see that movie - and give your reasons for wanting to persuade them. But, boycotting with a loud and obnoxious voice (which, let's be honest, is the way most "Christian boycotts" come across) is just not helpful to building a bridge to the "world" we are called to reach.
2) It's a movie, not a sermon. Why are we trying to hold Hollywood to a standard of accuracy and "stick to the text" standard as we would someone preaching a sermon from scripture. This is a SECULAR presentation of a BIBLICAL story. They are not saying that "Noah" didn't exist. They are not disproving God's reasons for sending the flood (from every account I have read, the reality of sin and its horrific repercussions are very clearly presented - although I hear that the "environmental sins" aspect is trumped up a bit much). They are not glossing over the fact that God promised mercy for future generations in the form of a rainbow. They have chosen to add some things that were not in the original story to make the story easier to follow and more dynamic and dramatic. I don't have issue with that at all in and of itself. The truth is, some of the "Biblical" movies we herald as classics such as "The Ten Commandments", "The Passion Of The Christ", and even "The Prince of Egypt" have extra-biblical pieces to them (Spoiler alert: Moses and Ramses never had a chariot race on top of a wall in the book of Exodus).
3) People WILL see the movie, so we had better be ready to talk about it. Rather than standing in opposition and loudly proclaiming how "against it" you are, why not go see it so that you know what is or isn't in the film? Then, when someone at work or your neighbor asks about "what really happened with Noah," you can tell them. While I am NOT suggesting that you take your kids to see it or encourage the children in your church to see it (that is a parental decision only), I do think we should arm our kids with the TRUTH so that they can share what REALLY happened (which is why we, at High Voltage Kids Ministry have put our "Surviving The Storm" series that teaches the story of NOAH on sale this week).
The bottom line can really be best summed up by quoting Phil Cooke, a film director and Christian who I greatly respect. He said...
Finally - remember that there are hundreds of serious, dedicated Christians working in the entertainment industry every day. These are professionals who – like Joseph – are working from the inside. When we launch attacks, petition drives, or boycotts, we’re damaging their ability to make change happen. As the Hollywood Prayer Network recommends, instead of making Hollywood the enemy, let’s consider Hollywood a mission field. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves: When was the last time we prayed for a Christian professional (a “media missionary”) trying to make difference in Hollywood – the most influential place on earth? Maybe it’s time to start.