“Noah's Ark" DVD Offers Little Teaching for Babies, Toddlers
- Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
- 2005 9 Sep
Release Date: May 2005
Run Time: 33 minutes
Publisher: The Baby Miracle Learning Company, FlagDay Productions
Distributor: Hart Sharp Video, LLC
“Baby Einstein” launched the trend, but Christian companies have jumped on the bandwagon of infant entertainment, and now the caravan is rolling along – despite recommendations that children not be exposed to televised entertainment until the age of three. Nevertheless, the results can be impressive, particularly from an artistic point of view. Other times, however, they are very disappointing indeed.
“Noah’s Ark” starts out well. It opens with a brief explanation of Noah and God’s command to build the ark, with two of each animal, so they will be “protected” while God “cleanses the earth” of disobedient people. This brief narration is accompanied by simplistic graphics. A crudely-drawn (and very small) ark bobs up and down on cardboard-looking “waves,” and Noah hops into the ark via a gangway.
“What kind of animals did Noah take?” the narrator asks, after just four minutes of tape. “Wild animals.” From there, the video moves into live shots of a variety of animals, with the animal’s name spelled out then repeated by the narrator (e.g. “elephant”). This is accompanied by a piano playing children’s Bible songs.
At first, this proves interesting, but the shots of each animal – many of which appear to have been filmed at zoos and wildlife parks – go on far too long. Although they are interspersed with brief shots of toddlers holding a stuffed animal (the same animal demonstrated in the live shots), there is very little variety. Much of the footage, in fact, is looped.
What this means is that we’ll see 10-15 seconds of a leopard stalking her prey, followed by 15 seconds of a leopard running, followed by 10-15 seconds of a leopard eating her dinner, followed by 10-15 seconds of a little boy playing with a stuffed leopard. We’re then treated to another 15 seconds of the same footage, when the leopard was stalking her prey, followed by 15 more seconds of the leopard running (identical footage as before), and so forth and so on. During all this, we hear only one word: “leopard.” Meanwhile, piano music plays. However, while the notes are true, the acoustics are so bad that the music sounds as if it was recorded in a church fellowship hall.
Regrettably, although the video spends the overwhelming percentage of its time on footage of the animals, it is not particularly good quality. At best, it looks like grainy, “Wild Kingdom” style shots from the '70s. At worst, it’s not lit properly. In one shot of a giraffe, for example, you can’t even see the animal. “What is that?” asked my 35-month-old. “A giraffe,” I replied. “But why is it black?” she said.
Well, let’s see. It would appear that somebody forgot to use a key light, and then somebody forgot to edit out this shot.
The non-stop animal footage continues into the third act, when the narrator asks what “other” kinds of animals Noah took on the ark, then answers, “farm animals.” We’re then treated to 10 more minutes or so of farm animals, again with no narration except the names of the animals.
In total, a full 26 minutes out of 33 is devoted to animal shots, with only background piano music and the one-word narration of animal names. The film then whizzes through the end of the story in less than three minutes. With graphics similar to those used at the beginning, it briefly shows the dove seeking land and the animals disembarking. The narrator then tells us about the rainbow and God’s promise to never flood the earth again. This is accompanied by lingering shots of toddlers playing with a rainbow toy.
The American Pediatric Association recommends zero television of any kind before the age of three for children. However, this hasn’t stopped sales – even in the Christian marketplace. In addition to stunting (rather than enhancing) educational opportunities, these DVDs and videos, says the APA, do the opposite. Moreover, babies and very young children rarely have the attention span needed to watch for any length of time.
Willowcreek Marketing claims that the audience for “Noah’s Ark” is “babies and toddlers,” but I doubt that either will have much interest. The shots are too long to captivate babies for more than a few seconds. And my toddler, who at almost three is now very interested in videos and DVDs, grew increasingly frustrated while watching. In fact, she kept asking me to turn it off in favor of another video.
At just 33 minutes, there isn’t much to praise in “Noah’s Ark,” which appears to have been quickly made and edited, on a very low budget. Although it claims to “introduce children to faith and the world around them” using “stimulating music and narration” – and may well offer a bit of entertainment, especially for children with long attention spans – it actually offers little in the way of teaching, music, or even the biblical story.