Guest / Limited Access /
Page 2 of 4

Interestingly, while this film does not explicitly depict the drunkenness that took place after the Flood, as described in Genesis 9, it does allude to Noah's love of alcohol when Noah suggests he might need to bring some extra liquor aboard the Ark—for medicinal purposes, you understand, because of all the potential snakebites.

One of the most famous big-screen adaptations of the Noah story came a few decades later, in The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966).

John Huston as Noah in 'The Bible: In the Beginning..." (1966)

John Huston as Noah in 'The Bible: In the Beginning..." (1966)

Directed by John Huston—who also plays Noah and provides the voice of God, too—this film covers the first 22 chapters of Genesis, from Creation to Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac, and the most striking thing about the Noah sequence is how utterly different it is in tone from the rest of the film.

While the stories about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Abraham and Lot are all treated fairly seriously, the Noah sequence plays like a comedy, as Noah's wife worries about cleaning the house before the Flood comes, or as Noah interacts with the animals. The fact that it is also the first sequence in the film to contain substantially new dialogue—all of it tailored to fit the King James dialogue of the earlier scenes—adds to the effect.

Huston's film was one of the last big-screen Bible epics ever made by a major studio. The biblical genre has been absent from theatres for the most part since then, but a steady stream of Bible-based productions have been made for television, and the story of Noah has come up there a few times, too.

A scene from 'Genesis: The Creation and the Flood' (1996)

A scene from 'Genesis: The Creation and the Flood' (1996)

One of the more notable examples is Genesis: The Creation and the Flood (1994), directed by Ermanno Olmi, an Italian best-known for The Tree of the Wooden Clogs. This film was the first installment in a 13-part series known as "The Bible Collection".

But unlike all the subsequent films in that series—which starred well-known actors and had scripts that were conventional in structure and format, sometimes to the point of being downright banal—Genesis plays more like an arthouse film, with a cast of unknowns and a structure that, in its English form at least, relies heavily on a single narrator (Paul Scofield).

Most of the film depicts people living in the wilderness, wearing ancient clothes and living in ancient tents. But in one key moment, the film's depiction of the sinners in Noah's day shifts to a documentary-like depiction of modern wars and environmental devastation, such as the oil wells that were left burning at the end of the first Gulf War.

The narrator also quotes passages such as Psalm 50 throughout the film to underscore how the theme of judgment—but also mercy towards the righteous—is not unique to the story of Noah but runs throughout the Bible.

Jon Voight as Noah in the 'Noah's Ark' miniseries (1999)

Jon Voight as Noah in the 'Noah's Ark' miniseries (1999)

At the completely opposite end of the artistic and theological spectrum, this was followed a few years later by the two-part Hallmark movie Noah's Ark (1999), which starred Jon Voight as the Ark builder and F. Murray Abraham as Lot. Yes, that Lot.

When this film begins, Noah is a native of the city of Sodom who barely escapes along with his family; the Flood comes several years later. Lot, meanwhile, is a friend of Noah's who also escapes the destruction of Sodom—but he shows up again much, much later, after the Flood has arrived, as a pirate who leads an assault on the Ark.

The original broadcast version of Noah's Ark ran about three hours without commercials; on DVD, it is just over two. And it pads things out with lots of nonsense, from post-modern one-liners ("Up the creek without a rudder") and Singin' in the Rain quotes to a scene in which God decides he might as well destroy Noah's family too, but then Noah starts to dance, which amuses God, so God lets him live after all.

Tags:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedNoah
Noah
After a flood of reviews and controversy, it's finally here. So should you see it?
TrendingChristianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
Editor's PickWhat Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
What Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
Rooting our celebration of Christ’s birth more deeply in our lives.
Comments
View this article in Reader Mode
Christianity Today
The Genesis of 'Noah'