When a well-known book or story is made into a movie, everyone knows there will be differences. Do the differences matter? Do they make the story richer? Or do the differences detract from the original story?
Noah (2014 PG-13) is a well-known story made into a movie. Let’s talk about the differences between the movie and the story, and if the differences make the story richer, or detract from the story.
The original story says that God did not like all the wicked things people were doing (remember, God created people), so God decides to send a flood to destroy everyone except for Noah and his family. So, Noah is given specific instructions on how to build a big boat. He is told to collect a male and female of every animal and place them in the ark. When the rains start, eight people are on the ark (Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives) and God closes the door. Noah, his family, and all those creatures are saved to repopulate the world.
Many people over the centuries have wondered about what it was like on that ark!
Differences that make the story richer:
1. The brothers are given personalities. Big brother Shem (Douglass Booth) has his wife (Emma Watson) and his role as eldest son. Little brother Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll) is the adorable mama’s boy. But middle son Ham (Logan Lerman) struggles for his place in this isolated family. Is he a boy, or a man, in his father’s eyes? These family dynamics make the story more interesting.
2. The Watchers help build the ark. It’s hard to build a huge boat with just your family. The Watchers in the movie are fallen angels (I think) that become rock-men. They decide that Noah is good, and will help him build the ark and protect him and his family. I think it’s fine to add this supernatural element to the construction scenes.
3. The animals arrive on their own. The animals just show up, and sleep because of the incense Noah’s family burns. That’s a good way to do it, actually!
4. When the rains come, the people want on the boat. This makes perfect sense, and adds to the drama of the escape. When the family is safe in the ark, and there are still people clinging to life in the rising waters outside, you can hear their cries for help, and it breaks your heart.
Differences that are bizarre:
1. Two sons are missing wives. Little Japheth is too young for a wife. Middle son Ham is looking at a life without a bride if he can’t find someone before the flood. He takes matters into his own hands and finds good girl Na’el (Madison Davenport) among the evil society. As they run to the boat she is injured. Mean dad Noah (Russell Crowe) makes Ham leave her behind. Why did the filmmakers do this? The story could have still been interesting and dramatic with all three sons having wives. But don’t worry, the oldest son’s wife will give birth to twin girls. Wives for the other sons. Ewwww!
2. There is a stowaway on the ark. The king of the people (Ray Winstone) actually hacks his way into the ark during the rising flood and with a bloody injured leg. He lives in secret, eating the animals sleeping around him. This leads to a big dramatic fight between him and Noah, with knives and spears and axes. Really – a stowaway? An ax fight?
3. Noah goes crazy and decides the whole family must die. This difference put me over the edge. His logic is that he and his family are really no better than all the people that died. His wife (Jennifer Connelly) is appalled and does whatever she can to protect her children, including helping her oldest son and his pregnant wife escape on a raft. Homicidal maniac Noah?
Those three strange differences the movie takes from the story are just too much for me! Too bad – it started out a fun movie!