Posts Tagged ‘cecil b demille’

I watched the movie “Noah” this weekend with my wife. And I have to say in spite of some of the inaccuracies of the familiar Bible story; it was still a powerful film.

Some have criticized that Noah is portrayed as a dangerous religious-extremist who blames people for destroying creation and makes no mention of man’s sinfulness. I suggest that these people watch it again. Because in the very beginning of the film it gives a short synopsis of the story written on the screen and mentions that what happens is the direct result of sin.

I have absolutely no problem with a filmmaker taking a biblical story and adding or subtracting from it as a way to craft a compelling film. There are all kinds of artistic license that have been taken as far back as Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 masterpiece “The Ten Commandments”.

Critics complain that the Noah film portrays Noah as a schizophrenic who goes off the deep end in a fit of self-righteousness that ends with a promise to kill himself and his own family; including his newborn granddaughters. Although this is not mentioned in the Bible, is it possible that Noah had these suicidal thoughts? Would these critics conclude that Abraham was a self-righteous schizophrenic as well? Personally, I don’t know how I would react if I was stuck inside of an ark with a bunch of animals with no idea of when I would find solid ground. Throughout history, people have done terrible, terrible things believing that they were following God’s instructions. (The Crusades come to mind)

Many Christians I know would also have a problem with the “Rock Angels” portrayed in the Noah film. (Sorry for the spoiler) They are more comfortable with their own version of angels portrayed as these huge heavenly beings who fly around with the use of their great wings. Interestingly, whenever the Bible describes angelic visitations, there is no mention of them having wings.

I have no problem watching Bible-based movies produced by unbelievers for the sake of making money. And that’s all the Noah movie is. What I DO have a problem with is self-professed Christians who say they produce movies to show the truth of the Bible in a dramatic way, but have just as many, if not more, biblical inaccuracies as those done by Hollywood’s elite atheists.

When I was a kid all I had was a King James Bible with a small concordance in the back. But today my kids and grand-kids have a ton of resources to help them at learning some of the best stories in the Bible. (Including Hollywood movies) As a Christian, I find this to be truly amazing. If there are things that don’t line up in these Bible-based movies with your opinions on what happened, then you have a great chance to follow up at dinner with your family or friends or small groups and talk about it.

Talk about what you agree with and what you don’t. (Remember, you also have a ton of resources for Biblical truth) And then bring the conversation back to Jesus. As Christians, that’s supposed to be the point, isn’t it?
Imagine what would happen if, instead of a heated debate about the inaccuracies of the Noah movie, we just had people from all walks of the Christian faith share the great stories of faith from God’s Word. What if we embraced these movie versions and used them to point people to the Gospel? Wouldn’t that look a lot like Jesus?

Earlier this week Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly interviewed “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, executive producers of “The Bible” TV miniseries which began Sunday night on the History Channel. “Bringing the Bible to the screen came with a huge responsibility and one we took very seriously,” Downey said. “We had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully. I’ve been a believer my whole life, and that was very, very important to us.” (Read more HERE)

I watched the premiere of the miniseries and was disappointed, (but not surprised) by the many inaccuracies found in the miniseries that Downey and Burnett took so seriously that they employed a team of scholars and theologians to help them get it right.

I’m sure Downey and Burnett meant well and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity, but I think they would have been better off to follow the example of Cecil B. DeMille in preparing for his movie, “The Ten Commandments”.

To prepare his studio to film The Ten Commandments DeMille sent a copy of the Bible to every single person on the payroll, with the words, “As I intend to film practically the entire book of Exodus . . . the Bible should never be away from you. Place it on your desk, and when you travel, stick in your briefcase. Make reading it a daily habit.”

The moral life of the production camp was rigorously prim and proper, and DeMille installed a separate tent which served only kosher food to two hundred twenty-four orthodox Russian, Polish, and Palestinian Jews working on the production.

I found it interesting that so far, the Jewish aspect of the miniseries is non-existent. I would have thought that at the very least, they would have included the first Passover Seder in the film like DeMille did in ‘The Ten Commandments’ movie.

Other discrepancies in Sunday’s premiere begin with the story of Abraham and Lot. They portrayed Lot’s capture as if it were a squabble between small tribes when the Bible teaches that it involved battles between the armies of five kings (nations) against another four. (Gen. 14:1-11) And when Abraham heard that his nephew was taken captive, he mobilized 318 trained men (soldiers) who had been born into his household to rescue Lot and his family. (Gen 14: 13-16)

Then there was the film’s depiction of Lot in Sodom. Because of political correctness I understand why they felt they needed to leave out the reason the men of Sodom wanted to break into Lot’s home, but the Bible plainly teaches that the men of Sodom wanted to rape the angels. When Lot refused, they threatened to do even worse to him. The angels then shut the door and smote the men with blindness so that they soon gave up trying to get inside Lot’s house. (Gen. 19:1-11)

There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that even alludes that the angels walked through Sodom like ninjas cutting men down with swords! Is this something that Downey and Burnett learned from the scholars?

Since most Christians get their doctrinal beliefs from movies and greeting cards, movies like this do a great disservice to God’s Word. A good example of this is the story of Lot’s wife. The Bible never states, as many people presume, that Lot’s wife was miraculously and instantly turned into a pillar of salt. It simply says she became a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19:15 – 26) Given the nature of the destruction of Sodom, combined with the circumstances of her own death, it’s quite possible that Lot’s wife did indeed become a pillar of salt due to natural occurrences.

The Hebraic phrase translated as “looked back” means more than simply turning her head around for a glance. The term more likely implies “turning back,” in the sense that Lot’s wife decided to leave her family and was on her way to return to the city. (Compare to Luke 17:28-33 and Luke 9:62)

Assuming that Lot’s wife did turn back to Sodom, it is quite possible that the sulfur and ashes that destroyed the city reached Lot’s wife, causing her death. Lot and his daughters, further ahead, were protected by God because they didn’t “look back.” Over time, Lot’s wife’s remains would have been layered in salt, given both the process of petrifaction that happens to remains of sulfur and the high levels of salt and sediment in the Dead Sea region.

From the comments I’ve read praising “The Bible” miniseries, many might think that I’m being too legalistic and only writing this to criticize the filmmakers.

I understand that producers make films in order to make money. I also understand that in order to make a film more profitable they sometimes need to take artistic liberties to make the film more interesting.

But the purpose of this article is not to criticize Downey and Burnett or any other filmmaker who produces Bible based movies. The purpose of this article is to encourage you not to base your religious beliefs on some miniseries or movie you watched or someone’s book you read– but only on the Word of God.

 “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (Ephesians 4:14)