The producers of the upcoming epic film “Noah” have released a special announcement to clarify that their film is only loosely based on the biblical flood narrative. To the credit of Paramount Pictures, they do refer readers to the location of the actual flood story in the book of Genesis (Genesis 6-10) in the Bible.
This move comes after a Christian media group asked the company to clarify its interpretation of the flood story because the film has taken significant liberties with the story line (Kim Masters, Aaron Couch, “ ‘Noah’ Marketing Tweaked at Urging of Religious Group,” The Hollywood Reporter at HollywoodReporter.com, February 27, 2014).
Entertainment value vs. biblical values
Biblical epics are nothing new. If you’ve ever seen the classic “The Ten Commandments” starring Charlton Heston on TV during the spring months in the U.S. you’ll know what I mean. The Bible is full of fascinating stories that beg to be put to film and, indeed, lend themselves to that medium. A new wave of Bible related films and TV shows has hit the airwaves lately, and will continue to do so.
However, just as many different denominations and religions have their interpretation of how biblical commands apply in our lives, so too do filmmakers have varying approaches to Biblical narratives made into film. Filmmakers, first of all, have to sell films, so biblical accuracy in an age of significant societal cynicism will suffer. Entertainment value sells tickets, and Biblical values rarely make the cut.
So, what to do with a big epic like “Noah”? To watch, or not to watch is certainly an individual decision, but if you choose to watch “biblical” epics, of any kind, always keep an healthy skepticism of the production in mind. Read the actual Bible story first and use the experience as a means of measuring how far away from or close to the real story the producers land, and watch for manipulations and bias of interpretation. Use godly discernment.