I have still not seen the new movie Noah, although I have a feeling I’m going to like it after reading about the screening party last month, an affair not quite up to the standards of the New York Post’s entertainment writer. “The buffet tables,” he reports, “were loaded with various forms of edible vegetable matter, but there was no meat . . . because director Darren Aronofsky is vegan, as was the hero of his biblical epic, as played by Russell Crowe. . . . Meat = evil. Got it. . . . I wondered, why did Noah go to all that trouble to save the animals, if not to eat at least some of them?”
’s reporter is used to better free food than that. Imagine the gall of Aronofsky, subjecting guests of Paramount to such privation — a whole evening without a pork loin or a bit of lamb. Usually when Hollywood figures catch grief about their causes, it’s for some glaring inconsistency with the moral ideals they urge upon others. In this case, moral consistency is the offense. The verdict on Page Six: bad manners and a boring buffet table.
A few of the more pious-sounding reviewers of Noah have likewise derided the movie as so much vegan and environmentalist propaganda, in the same exasperated tone of people not getting their accustomed fare. Russell Crowe’s Noah, writes a Washington Post columnist, is “a brooding, misanthropic vegan.” With its “anti-human-exceptionalism” themes, complains NRO’s Wesley Smith, the film could appeal only to “a small group of progressive elites and misanthropic neo-earth religionists.” So twisted is the story that “the vile villain believes it is man’s job ‘to subdue the earth’ — as he eats an animal alive with gluttonous gusto.” Meanwhile, “the ‘good guy,’ Noah, teaches that it is man’s job to ‘serve the innocent.’”
You would think that a man quoting the phrase “serve the innocent” with a sneer would pause for just a moment before going on. He might ask himself, among other questions, why animals in Scripture so often serve as the very symbols of guiltless suffering. The story of how ruin was brought upon the earth by human arrogance and depravity, moreover, is not exactly ripe material for the morally self-congratulatory themes that Aronofsky’s critics expected him to wring from it. And even at the end of the story, when we get our fresh start with the Second Covenant, that covenant is not for man alone. Some misanthropic influence decided to make it “between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”
I’ll leave the movie reviewing to others, but just from the standpoint of elementary morality it’s curious how Noah’s detractors keep going back to the film’s emphasis on cruelty to animals, as if it had never even occurred to them that the Lord might pay attention to such things. “The Noah movie is ugly,” warns a conservative screenwriter in The Christian Post. “It’s anti-human-exceptionalism. It’s enviro-agitprop. . . . Christians, you are tools being played if you think that this movie is anything BUT a subversion of the Biblical God and an exaltation of environmentalism and animal rights against humans.”
The same fellow gave us a “Bible-based” analysis of the script at Breitbart.com, describing the Noah character as a “vegan hippie-like gatherer of herbs.” He’s even “a bit psychotic, like an environmentalist or animal rights activist who concludes that people do not deserve to survive because of what they’ve done to the environment and to animals.” And get this: Psychotic Noah even “maintains an animal hospital to take care of wounded creatures or those who survive the evil ‘poachers’ of the land. . . . Noah is the Mother Teresa of animals.”
This shallow caviling comes at a time when, to take just one example, the elephants of the world are being butchered into oblivion by real-life evil poachers and hunters, who perhaps inspired the ones in the movie. It is a horror unfolding right now, an epic and irreversible crime against noble creatures who do not deserve such a fate. In this context, along comes Noah, the story of Creation’s second chance, showing us the hardness of heart that causes such suffering and the human compassion that alone can stop it. When did appeals for mercy to a fellow creature become “enviro-agitprop”?
We could add that in Christianity the people remembered for their kindness to animals are not considered “psychotic.” Sometimes they’re considered saints, and Francis is only the best remembered. Moses, likewise, was chosen because of his compassion for a stray lamb, and the Old Testament is filled with lovely expressions of divine solicitude for animals — who indeed, in Genesis, are “blessed” by their Maker before we even hit the scene. Far from having completely “depersonalized nature,” as that conservative screenwriter puts it on Breitbart.com, the God of Israel knows and cares about each creature He has made, and all are dear to Him for their own sakes.