Darron Aronofsky’s Noah just started showing at Silverbird and hopefully by the end of the week I should have seen it. Despite being based on the biblical Noah and the Ark story I am not expecting anything remotely accurate to scripture. I personally found it nonsensical that some of the Christian section of the cinema going public was outraged by Aronofsky’s end product.
For one it’s Darron Aronfsky we’re talking about, creator of Black Swan, The Wrestler and one of my personal favourites Requiem for a Dream. There is always a dark disturbing quality to his work and not that producing a film with a gospel base is beyond him (it probably is because he’s an atheist) I wasn’t holding my breath for anything biblically edifying.
There’s also the issue of the source scripture which comes from some about 4 books consisting of roughly 73 verses of scripture. That’s hardly enough for the script for a two hour plus film so the fact that the director took some creative liberties was to be expected. Let’s not forget the trailers too, there’s a 40-50 something looking Russell Crowe playing a 400-500 year old man so give me a break people. I don’t know about you but when I hear a Christian film is being directed by an atheist, I try not to get my hopes up.
I don’t know what Aronofsky has in store but the crux of man’s depravity and Gods accompanying penance will be well represented. To be honest, Noah’s story would not have been my first, second or even third choice for a biblical film adaptation. You know who I would have loved to see in the cinema – Jonah.
Before I go on, let me go on record and state that Jonah is my favourite bible character and not because he’s an ideal model of Christian appeal but precisely the opposite. I used to find Jonah interesting because he was the man who found it hilariously prudent to run from God and his will, easily one of the dumbest acts in the history of mankind (Ananias and Saphira come in a close second) but to really understand the point of this section of scripture realised I had to approach it not as a whodunit but a whydunit. His story is not only singed with humour but a very disturbing darkness which human nature leaves ample room for, the perfect base for a black comedy.
Jonah’s adventure begins when he is called by God to warn the people of Nineveh of impending destruction brought on their sinful ways. Instead of heeding Gods call, he opts to run away to sunny Spain. On his way, his ship is rocked by a violent storm and subsequent events see him thrown overboard and the rest is history (history you can find in the book of Jonah, READ UP!!).
After the miraculous circumstance that lead this survival, he does go on to fulfill Gods will and get this, the people of Nineveh do repent hell even their animals repent. All cards are laid down when Jonah confronts God because of his act of mercy in what would be the money scene of the movie, if it were made of course.
In the dark twist of the narrative, we learn that Jonah disobeys God not because of stupidity or a pressing desire to visit the sunny beaches of Spain but because of an anger brooding in his heart towards the Ninevites, an anger that pushes him to keep Gods word from them so his eventual wrath meets them.
To truly understand Jonah’s bitterness, it’s important we understand what Jonah is facing when God tells him to go to Nineveh. During this time period, the Ninevites were not only enemies of the Israelites but had violently oppressed the nation of Israel, think Xerxes and Persians in that recent abomination of a film. God’s command for Jonah, therefore, is not just unreasonable. It’s terrifying—and seemingly impossible. These cultural realities are most likely a huge part of why Jonah runs from God’s will. He is naturally terrified of the enemy.
Vie been taking a closer look at this book and I have come to realise that at the core of Jonah’s trepidation a fear of triumph the knowledge that his success at winning over the Ninevites to the Lord, will see them met with his abundant love and mercy. That’s essentially what God is about, love and mercy. God has always done more than meet us halfway despite the fact that we are on the wrong end of this spectrum.
It makes you wonder how bad the people in Noah’s day were that he actually expressed regret in creating man and destroyed the world.
It also highlights the paradox of how far we are from understanding Gods mercy despite experiencing it possibly on a daily basis. All God has done since Adam and Eve is give us second chance despite opting for sin and the enemies camp and mind you when we sin, we ARE Gods enemies. Jonah, on the other hand, wants his enemies to suffer.
I guess I also love the book of Jonah because despite being a prophet, nothing to be taken lightly, he still exhibits the fickle frailties of the human state. The Bible is full of men and women who, despite their best efforts are fundamentally flawed. Some people use the bible as a tool for condescendence and judgement and that pisses me of. A lot of evidence in the word suggests the opposite. For the most part the only super human Christian was Jesus because well he was Jesus.
I still have tons to say about Jonah like the fact that I feel this whole adventure was not to rid Nineveh of idols but his heart of bitterness but for now, Christians and whoever plans to see Noah either enjoy the movie or stay at home but no whining.