I saw the movie NOAH on a rainy April day. Talk about set up.
Taking the story of NOAH and The Ark out of it’s traditional depiction in the middle east brought the focus to the story itself. This is a story about the abundance of life or lack of it depending on one’s vision and how one’s vision dictates ones behavior.This drama throws into high relief a very loud dialogue taking place on our planet right now. Is there enough or not enough for everyone? The two protagonists, NOAH and his mortal enemy the man that killed his father, a cruel tribal leader who fancies himself a king, have views that are diametrically opposed.These two archetypes could be called the Green Movement vs Fossil Fuels.The bad guys live a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. Waste is a way of life and they constantly complain how harsh life is,always casting blame on the Creator whom they like to claim does not hear them. Noah has the view that he should tread gently upon the earth and act as caretaker and he displays a tenderness and awe towards a simple flower or the cosmos revealed in the night sky.The garb he and his family dons reminds me of clothing worn at and made for our outdoor festival culture in America and points slightly south where modern seekers retreat to commune with nature,themselves and each other for ten day chunks in the desserts and remaining wildernesses of the world.Practical with no frills you find no flowing robes of the Ten Commandmants variety here. Set in a post apocalyptic world that reminded me of Mad Max in the Scottish Highlands, the landscape Noah and his family inhabit is scorched and barren of trees. Noah’s family,descendants of Seth are far, far away from the lush and fertile Garden of Eden but they are SINGULARLY moving towards it because they know the time of waste is over. They are vegetarians. I appreciated this reference to the Old Testament where foods such as nuts and seeds are recommended… and they will be unto you as meat.(I found a lot of bhakti in this movie). In Noah’s case lichen is the order of the day as forests have virtually vanished. Now how to build that ark? Is there hope?
NOAH Shot in the Brooklyn Marcy street Armory,it is a visually stunning film, majestic in scope where everything looms large.The natural world is intelligent and supernatural in it’s grandeur because life is just so darn simple. Intuitively the beasts and birds find Noah’s ark which is wonderful to watch as it dwarfs the human ego. After the avians flock to the ark they settle in among the roosts. You see Noah and his good wife handling a small bird near a metal bowl with flower like embers. “It’s asleep” she utters. As I watched Shem and his mother (a talented herbalist) stroll through the avian deck while gently swinging incense pots to and fro the symbolism was strong. This sacred moment was a blessing of the animals in real terms and a lesson for man giving us a gentler interpretation of what it means to have dominion over the Earth.This was Church with every players level of commitment exposed due to sheer proximity to the meek. Anyone who has ever had to transport animals by freight or air understands how traumatic it is for the hound,cat or other beloved companion to be confined to a cage,buffeted by luggage and the wind in a dark lonely place. So many dying of fright. It was a thoughtful touch to imagine what the Birds,Beasts,and Everything That Crawls and Slithers would have required to make it through an extremely harrowing flood in a story that is notoriously free of detail.In this respect the story reminds me of Native American prophecy. It’s blunt, earth bound and so simple we can barely understand it. To be merciful and kind to all of Gods Creatures, particularly the vulnerable is a task that Noah points out repeatedly that they have been entrusted with.
Faith That All Needs Will Be Met in God’s Time
And that is the test is it not?
As aspiring yogi’s do we cultivate this feeling that we have all that we need when we need it? Do we fear that we have been forgotten in the way closest to our hearts desires ? That we need not covet or hoard more than is necessary? Can we be practical AND be free to live in the moment,confident that life is steering us towards our highest good? Are we brave enough to act on faith? This theme is played out in the relationship of father and son, Noah and Ham. While Ham is naturally curious and Noah has a gruff parenting style,in the end it’s Ham’s lack of faith that he will not be provided for that creates a rift between the father and son. Noah says – Wait be patient. Have you not seen all the miracles that have come to pass? How about a forest coming forth from one seed when we had no wood to build an ark with for starters? But Ham doesn’t want to wait. He wants what he wants when he wants it and he doesn’t think things through.For all it’s Shaekespearen edge the message is simple:God is a God of Divine Harmony and He expects all His children to get along with the burden of that cooperative spirit placed squarely on man. He expects man to be patient and listen closely and quietly to Nature, to Him speaking to you in dreams,to be guided by kindness. Trying to jostle ahead in any way creates a disruptive outcome. And who is Ham? We can all admit we are a little childish, no?
Environmental Conservation and Rising Tides
The BIG BIG theme that cannot be over looked is The Flood. It is the entire reason for the movie and while you may argue for or against the possibility of the world really being inundated with that much water,for anyone who has lived through the harsh realities (and frightening indifference of aid agencies) of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Hurricane Sandy in New York, the typhoon in The Phillippines or the Oso Washington state land slide you may be seeing things in a different way now. Water rose fast and hard and washed away children,homes and businesses in a matter of hours.Environmental conservation is no longer a nice cocktail party conversation among the well heeled but a matter of having or not having a home right in the middle of working class neighborhoods and white collar alike. I can think of no greater irony than the residents of Breezy Point,the majority of whom were firefighters having to watch their homes – about 200 homes burn- to the ground during Hurricane Sandy because the fire trucks could not be moved out of the firehouses in 8 feet of water. If that is not a metaphor for what is happening now I don’t know what is. Warning.
P.S.Anthony Hopkins as Methusaleh is Delightful&Loves Berries
Aside from any other drama and near nervous breakdowns on the part of Russell Crowe,Sir Anthony Hopkins is delightful as the hoary old mystic who lives on top of a mountain like great mystic yogis do. He lends charm, practicality, humanity & humor to the proceedings. He is THE patriarch who really HAS seen it all and still has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. He is powerful. He reminded me of my own grandfather Bernando LaPallo who loves berries too…and especially blueberries.Eat more berries and you may live just as long as Methuseleh or maybe as long as Bernando.
p.p.s. *Wikipedia has this to say about Methusaleh. Extra-Biblical mentions:
Methuselah appears in two important Jewish works from the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. In the Book of Enoch, Enoch (as the narrator) tells Methuselah of the coming worldwide flood and of the future Messianic kingdom. The Book of Jubilees names Methuselah’s mother and his wife – both are named Edna – and his daughter-in-law, Betenos, Lamech’s wife.
The 17th century midrashic Sefer haYashar (“Book of Jasher”) describes Methuselah with his grandson Noah attempting to persuade the people of the earth to return to godliness. All other very long-lived people died, and Methuselah was the only one of this class left. God planned to bring the flood after all the men who walked in the ways of the Lord had died (besides Noah and his family). Methuselah lived until the ark was built, but died before the flood, since God had promised he would not be killed with the unrighteous. The Sefer haYashar gives Methuselah’s age at death as 960 and does not synchronize his death with the flood.
The Sumerian king list mentions a character named Ubaratutu who seems almost identical to Methuselah. He was the son of Enmunderana the Sumerian Enoch, and king of Sumeria until the flood swept over the land. Although their ages are different their father and year of death remain the same.