On March 28, 2014, Noah hits the big screen, with an all-star cast including Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins. Maximus and Hannibal Lecter are teaming up to save the world from the global flood. What were the chances?
We don’t know exactly how the story will be told or what twists and turns director Darren Aronofsky throws into the plot. The one thing we can be sure of is that there will be lots of computer-generated imagery (CGI) to convey the flood scene accurately. There’s no studio on earth that would pony up the money to flood the whole planet just to get a “realistic” shot.
Two things come to my mind as I think about this film:
Our culture is obsessed with epic-ness. An epic is something that is “heroic or grand in scale and character.” Originally, epics were long poems that were orally passed down from generation to generation. They retold the adventures and exploits of nations and heroes of valor. Today, our epics are not recited by memory; they’re viewed on giant digital screens in state-of-the art multiplexes by millions of us. Nearly every blockbuster movie today is an epic. Eight of the top-20 grossing films (and two of the top three) from 2013 would be defined as “epics.”
Where does this craving for epic-ness originate? I think it largely comes out of our post-modern world, one in which any overarching story describing reality (metanarrative) is decried as tomfoolery. Postmodernism rejects the idea that there is one cohesive narrative that explains our beginning, the reason for life, an intelligent way to think about our past, and a purpose to the direction of history. The idea of any metanarrative has been erased (goodbye, Christianity), and our own lives have become their own narrative. This micronarrative doesn’t describe all of life/reality and is relative to each person’s own devising.
But let’s face it: Our lives are 98 percent mundane, with only a little excitement along the way. We are starting to feel the frustration and worthlessness that comes from pursuing our individual micronarratives. Our micronarratives don’t end up satisfying us, so we turn to digital, make-believe metanarratives that fill us with hope, meaning and a sense of belonging in this world. Because we’ve forgotten God’s epic story, and have cast ourselves as the lead in our own epic (which is always a box office flop), we gravitate toward anything that might possibly fill that big-picture longing in our souls.
The sad fact is that all of Hollywood’s epics aren’t true. The zombie apocalypse isn’t coming, there are no superpowers evolving out of the human race, and a space-time vortex allowing for the passage of Godzilla-like monsters into our world isn’t about to open up in the Pacific Ocean (thank God!). We’re left working our 9-to-5 jobs and feeling lonely in this universe, with no sense of direction or place.
So we pay $9.50 to “admit one” again, and again, and again.
There will be a great opportunity to talk about God’s epic story. No doubt “creative license” will be used in Noah
, but rather than boycotting it because it won’t exactly follow the Bible, I think it is a great chance to share with others what the story really is. The fact that there are flood legends
from all over the world speaks to the world-wide reality of the Genesis flood – as do the abundance of fossilized
animals and plants which appear “suddenly” in the sedimentary layers.
There is so much more about the Genesis flood than I can share in one blog post. But Noah
affords us a chance to engage our culture, which is bringing its best actors, directors and CGI people to retell this story. Should we not enter in with them and dialogue?
Look for Noah
to come out, and celebrate the fact that God’s epic story is really true. You really live in it, and the central character of his story is the heroic person of Jesus, who stood before God’s flood of wrath against sin to save for himself a people holy and set apart. What a story!