What People Say About Aronofsky’s Creator

What People Say About Aronofsky’s Creator

What People Say About Aronofsky’s Creator

In the previous blog post, What People Say About Aronofsky’s Noah, I wrote,

 

Who is God? What does God do? I believe this film has plenty to say in response to these two questions.

 

But before I do, let’s take a look at what people say about the Creator (as a character in the film, Noah).

 

Think Team  “a sovereign creator… in control and, in the jaw-dropping standout scene of the year so far, the creator of everything we see”
 

Michael Schuermann “far off, raining down justice from the heavens and yet remaining inscrutable and silent…”
 

Chris Sosa “with the power of life and death, but perhaps not much else. He seems unable to interfere beyond wide actions of either propagation or destruction. Even communicating with Noah seems a struggle. This leaves the Creator widely defined to a point that makes assigning him ethical agency little more than conjecture.
 

Peter T. Chattaway “[sends] the Flood, the visions and the animals”
 

Eleanor Ringel Cater “tells Noah a world-soaking deluge is on the way”
 

Graham Heslop “is palpably distant… tending towards silence, gives Noah dreams… Noah is not lead by God but left by him… is vague and unclear… akin to Dawkin’s ‘blind watchmaker’ or George Lucas’ ‘Force’… either has no qualms with being completely misunderstood and misrepresented or is simply incapable of making himself known…”
 

Albert Mohler “is spoken of in the movie, but he does not speak… appears to be driven by an essentially ecological fervor… [the film] distorts the character of […] God”

 

As you can see, what people had to say about the Creator was far more tame and uncritical than what they said about Noah. There is no talk of the Creator as some ““sociopathic monster… a madman…” etc. In order to avoid confusion, let’s name Aronofsky’s Creator, Creator A. And let’s call the Creator in the Bible, specifically in the Genesis account of the great flood, Creator B.
 

Of the 15-20 blogs I read, most writers based their assessment of Creator A on:
 

creator-A
 

or they based their assessment of Creator A on:
 

creator-B
 

Now, if one wants to examine Creator A as a character with his own merits and nothing else, then only the first diagram applies. Creator B and the second diagram are only relevant if one wants to compare the Creator A character to the Being upon which he is based, that is, Creator B. There’s nothing wrong with comparing Creator A to Creator B. In fact, I’ll do that in another blog post. Like I said, I believe this film has plenty to say in response to the two questions: Who is God? What does God do? But that’s not what this blog post is about. Now that we’ve got an understanding, I’ll proceed. Let’s take a look at those comments again.
 

Think Team  “a sovereign creator… in control and, in the jaw-dropping standout scene of the year so far, the creator of everything we see”

 

Think Team says that Creator A is “creator of everything we see,” but how does Think Team know Creator A is sovereign? Perhaps the reason is the “jaw-dropping standout scene.” Here’s the script:
 

140217noahscript3
 

There are two sources of information here. The first source is, of course, Aronofsky. Movie audiences are willing to overlook implausibility. If they weren’t, they would constantly be reminding themselves — these are just actors playing the parts of fictional characters, those are just computer-animated monsters, none of this really happened, etc. Movie audiences suspend judgment and believe the fantastic tale. In other words, in the movie theater, the movie directors are gods. We temporarily accept the “truth” of the world the director creates, the world over which the director is sovereign.
 

The second source of information is Noah. If we have assumed the movie-going mindset, then Aronofsky’s visual narrative compliment’s Noah’s verbal narrative. And we believe. Creator A’s sovereignty is apparent, not because we have seen Creator A, but because Aronofsky demonstrated to the audience that Noah’s words were true. With this in mind, parts of Schuermann’s comment make more sense:
 

Michael Schuermann “far off, raining down justice from the heavens and yet remaining inscrutable and silent…”

 

“Far off” and “silent” are descriptors that seem to ring true of Creator A, in my opinion, but “inscrutable” and “raining down justice” need to be examined further. For now, I’ll hold off on “inscrutable.” How does Schuermann know Creator A is raining down justice? Raining, yes, that’s quite obvious to everyone. But justice? What if it’s just raining? How do viewers know that this flood is motivated by a sense of justice?
 

There are two sources of information from which Schuermann draws his conclusions. The first is a scene in which Noah ingests hallucinogens and has a vision of Eden, the serpent, the violence between Cain and Abel, and finally, a massive flood. The flood is not something Noah could have known about, unless he had the ability to see the future. Since there was nothing else in the movie to indicate he had the ability to see the future, we can safely assume that the flood portion of Noah’s vision did not originate with Noah. But what about the history lesson? Noah would have been very familiar with the old stories of Eden, the serpent, and the violence between Cain and Abel. He could have produced this portion of the vision from his own psyche. We can know with certainty that Creator A warned Noah about the flood, but we can’t know with certainty that the flood was an act of divine justice.
 

Think about it.
 

As a little boy, Noah witnessed his father being murdered by Tubal-Cain. Noah is haunted by visions of the flood, but it isn’t until after he drinks Methuselah’s potion that Noah makes the connection between the violence of humanity and the idea of divine justice. What if Noah’s own desire for justice plays a part in how he interprets Creator A’s warning?
 

creatorperception
 

Now back to “inscrutable.” Is Creator A impossible to understand? Heslop thinks so:

 

Graham Heslop “is palpably distant… tending towards silence, gives Noah dreams… Noah is not lead by God but left by him… is vague and unclear… akin to Dawkin’s ‘blind watchmaker’ or George Lucas’ ‘Force’… either has no qualms with being completely misunderstood and misrepresented or is simply incapable of making himself known…”

 

Let me ask you this — since Creator A gave Noah visions or warnings about the flood and then provided (via Methuselah’s seed from Eden) all the materials Noah would need to build an ark, or hundreds of arks for that matter, shouldn’t we consider this clear direction? How is Creator A inscrutable? It seems pretty simple to me. A flood is coming. Here. Have a forest. Survive the flood. Oh, and don’t forget about the animals. Chattaway and Cater don’t see to take issue with this:

 

Peter T. Chattaway “[sends] the Flood, the visions and the animals”
Eleanor Ringel Cater “tells Noah a world-soaking deluge is on the way”

 

Yes, Creator A is distant and silent in the most literal sense, but Creator A makes his point, a point that only becomes vague and unclear after it has been filtered through the mind and worldview of Noah. Regarding Heslop’s idea that Creator A “either has no qualms with being completely misunderstood and misrepresented…” we have no way of knowing for sure. That Creator A is misunderstood or misrepresented is certainly a possibility. But Heslop’s idea that Creator A could be”…simply incapable of making himself known” is highly unlikely. After all, Aronofsky the director-god of the world he created, clearly established Creator A’s sovereignty. To deny Creator A’s sovereignty is to be like the movie viewers I mentioned earlier, who are constantly reminding themselves — these are just actors playing the parts of fictional characters, those are just computer-animated monsters, none of this really happened, etc. If you have accepted the “truth” of the world the director created, if you believe the fantastic tale, then saying Creator A is “incapable” is not an option. If, in fact, Creator A is completely misunderstood and misrepresented, we can’t assume that Creator A has no qualms with it. He may have a big problem with it.
 

I’ll explain by using a personal example. The other day, a friend said something on Facebook about me and some others (without using names, but nevertheless, clearly about us) concerning what we should have done but didn’t do. My first instinct was to react defensively, to point out reasons why I should not be included in this group of should-haves-but-didn’ts, but I remembered that my only judge is God. God approved of me and my choices in that circumstance. And since God’s authority is the highest authority, why should I worry about what other people think about me? I chose not to defend myself.
 

Did I have the ability to respond? Yes. Did I? No. There’s a big difference between can’t and won’t. Heslop doesn’t seem to understand this, and neither does Sosa:

 

Chris Sosa “with the power of life and death, but perhaps not much else. He seems unable to interfere beyond wide actions of either propagation or destruction. Even communicating with Noah seems a struggle. This leaves the Creator widely defined to a point that makes assigning him ethical agency little more than conjecture.

 

Viewers recall Methuselah “blessing” Shem’s wife. Because of this blessing, her childhood injury was healed, and she was enabled to conceive not just one baby, but two. I don’t know about you, but to me, Creator A was interfering with Noah’s genocidal interpretation of the visions. And this interference can’t be classified or limited to as in Sosa’s words, wide actions of propagation. These are very personal actions. One woman, miraculously healed. Not just any woman, but the one woman who should NOT have been healed if the Creator’s intentions were as Noah assumed.
 

Take a look at this chart one more time:
 

creator-A
 

Notice how the innermost layer is the only one where the “truth” of who Creator A really is exists. Aronofsky directed the movie in such a way that Creator A’s intentions were inferred (correctly or incorrectly) by the next two layers. From what I gather, the outermost layer reveals three things:

 

  1. Blog writers have a hard time analyzing Creator A without also comparing Creator A to Creator B.
  2. To infer Creator A’s intentions, blog writers tend to rely on Noah’s interpretation of Creator A’s intentions (genocide) or other character’s interpretations of Creator A’s intentions (near-genocide, sparing Noah’s family only) more than they rely on Creator A’s action or inaction.
  3. Blog writers seem to accept Creator A, despite their assumption that Creator A is genocidal or near-genocidal. Yet, blog writers have strong feelings against Noah, who is obviously genocidal or near-genocidal (no assumptions necessary there).

 

How can this film help us understand Who God is and what God does? The next blog will cover this question. I’ll close with this thought about Mohler’s comment:

 

Albert Mohler “is spoken of in the movie, but he does not speak… appears to be driven by an essentially ecological fervor… [the film] distorts the character of […] God”

 

God’s character cannot be distorted. Only our perception of God’s character can be distorted. Aronofsky’s film, Noah, demonstrates how easily our perceptions can be influenced.

Comments
  • Mary Vanderplas May 8, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I like what you say and agree generally (based on my reading of your recounting of the film) that the blog writers’ assessments of the Creator in the film are based largely on inferences drawn from what Noah says and thinks about the Creator’s intentions and less on what the Creator himself/itself does. I don’t know that I agree, though, that the Creator’s sovereignty is seen only through the filmmaker’s visual presentation supporting Noah’s words. It seems to me that the existence of a “creator of everything we see” implies a being of sovereign power – though this assumption may reflect my own tendency to conflate Creator A and Creator B. What you say about the notion of the flood as punishment for human rebellion not necessarily reflecting the Creator’s intentions, but being inferred from Noah’s interpretation of the Creator’s warning, makes sense. I agree that the contention that the Creator is incapable of making himself known is unwarranted, though I wouldn’t dismiss the notion that the Creator is inscrutable. That he/it sounds a warning and gives clear direction about how to survive the impending catastrophe doesn’t mean that the Creator’s purposes are altogether clear and knowable by finite creatures. What you say by way of contesting the notion that the Creator’s intervention is seen only in wide actions makes sense. It isn’t exactly clear to me, though – likely for the reason that I haven’t seen the film – how the Creator’s action in healing the woman interfered with Noah’s understanding of the Creator’s intentions.

    I agree that our perceptions of God can be distorted. However, what I read in Mohler’s words is that the film’s portrayal of the Creator distorts who God is and what God does as presented in the Bible.

    • admin May 9, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      You and Mom should see the movie.

      • Mary Vanderplas May 10, 2014 at 6:24 am

        We’ll plan on it – but probably won’t do it before the end of the school year. 🙂

  • Patrick Strickland May 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Very interesting article.

    Truth does not change but our perception changes how we view truth.

    What a sublime and wonderful truth that is. If we could only truly learn what God’s intentions are and could represent them clearly for all. Unfortunately we all will face distortions till all clearly see and understand his intentions.

    I can hardly wait to see where this series of posts go.

    I saw the movie and I even have read the comic adaptation and I found that I had very mixed feelings concerning it. I loved the acting, and the special effects, but I really did not like the story’s departure from the biblical narrative. I loved the fact that the ark was likened to a seed. But honestly i do not remember if that fact was brought out in the movie but I know it was clear in the comic.

    Grace and peace Patrick

    • admin May 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      I didn’t know there was a comic!

  • Dennis Goodman May 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts on the movie. Looking forward to hearing more.

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