There was first elation.

Then there was mild concern.

Then there was great hope.

Followed by outcry and more concern.

Then in response to the heated uproar, cooler heads tried to calm us.

Then another uptick in the uproar.

All of this turmoil, when most have seen little more than a few frames of the film.

Undoubtedly Noah’s journey to our local movie theaters has been marked with controversy over the last few months. The level of outcry surprised me, but it probably shouldn’t have. Christians love the Bible and its heroes, and rightly so.  The reverence we have for God’s Holy Word must certainly baffle those outside the faith. When we get wind that someone might be messing with inspired Scriptures we aren’t shy about expressing our concern.

Last week I had the privilege of seeing Noah before its wide release, and joining 20 or so journalists from Christian media outlets to talk about the film with director Darren Aronofski, and screenwriter Ari Handel. 

With these events in my mind and several days of consideration, I can tell you that I hope you will go see this film. Christians, in fact, should make it a point to see this film.

I will avoid details on some specifics, so as not to give spoilers; that information is readily available for those who wish to seek it out. Noah certainly contains some incidents and dialogue that seem to challenge both our general understanding of the account in Genesis and accepted Christian theology. But I would like to share why I think Noah is valuable, and indeed, why it should be considered a notable film and respectable bit of pop culture.

Much of the early concern about Noah arose from Christians when they learned that neither of these filmmakers professes to share our Christian faith. When initial reviews of Noah expressed concern over some aspects of the film, many took to the internet with their concerns and complaints.

But both Aronofski and Handel express to us deep reverence for the story of Noah, evidenced in years of painstaking research. It was important to them to get beyond our sterile preconceptions of Noah, and dig deep into the timeless themes of the story. 

“The story poses a lot of questions,” says Handel. “The biggest question is this notion of, ‘How do we get saved? Who deserves to be on that boat? Are people going to be judged or treated with mercy?’” 

“That question of ‘why’ I think confounded us from the very beginning... ,“ he continues. “All these questions started as confusions, but as we worked on it harder and harder. We started to see that this [film] was a mediation asking us to grapple with this idea of mercy and justice, goodness and wickedness.”

“It’s just a great set up to examine what it means to be and individual and what it means to have goodness and wickedness inside of you,” says Aronofski. “All the characters sort of reflect that in the film.”

Many of the film’s troubling points center around the portrayal of Noah’s flaws. I will certainly admit that I found some of what Noah portrays about the character of this biblical hero a bit jarring. But Aronofski reminds us that the Bible doesn’t actually describe Noah as ‘good;’ rather it uses the term ‘righteous.’ And righteousness is more accurately defined as a balance of justice and mercy.