Thursday, March 27, 2014

Noah Adoption Movie Review

A long time ago, the Creator made Adam and Eve. They had three sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth. Cain killed Abel. Now, the line of Seth has dwindled to Noah, his ancient grandfather, and his three sons. Noah and his wife have also taken in Ila, a young girl who they found injured, years ago. Noah learns that the Creator will destroy life on earth with a flood, in response to how wicked people have become. Noah begins building a large boat, and sees that it provides safe passage for every animal species.


The Adoption Connection
Noah and his wife have more or less adopted Ila. Noah’s grandfather says that she has become like one of the family. She ultimately marries her almost-adoptive brother (although in her defense, he was one of the last men on earth.)
There is a genealogical rite of passage. When Noah is a teenager, his father recites Noah’s ancestry before preparing to declare Noah a man.
Infertility is a prominent theme in the film. When Noah and his wife find Ila, she is crushed, and she has a prominent scar which indicates her permanent infertility. This is miraculously reversed, which creates a crisis.
One character refers to his band of compatriots as “alone, orphan children cursed by God.” He is proved right in this assessment.

Strong Points
At times, Noah is a very nurturing father and adoptive father. He affirms that Ila has been a valuable gift to his family.
The film shows how family turmoil, when survived, can build very close family ties.
Noah explains his stewardship of the animals on the ark in a way that also is a positive statement of foster care, “All of these innocent [lives] are in our care. It is our job to look after them [and then, they will start a new life from a healthy situation.]”
Noah’s grandfather embraces Ila as his own great-granddaughter.

Weak Points
There are several aspects of this film that could be triggering for children and adults, depending on what they’ve experienced. I’ll try to sum them up.
Noah sees his father murdered in front of him with an axe. His father’s murderer later tries to have Noah’s son murder Noah.
From her childhood, Ila is told that she can never have children. She views herself as having little worth because of her infertility. She says that her beloved “needs a real woman” who can bring a family to him. She wonders why God would even want her alive, given her barrenness.  Her infertility eventually goes away, basically by magic (she is touched in the abdomen by her great-grandfather, who gives her his blessing.)
One character nearly betrays his father into the hands of a murderer.
Noah allows a girl, caught in a bear trap, to be trampled to death by charging warriors.
The villain’s dying words commend the boy who killed him, “You killed. Now you are a man.”

This is probably the most likely thing to cause a trigger *And it is a  HUGE SPOILER*:

 Noah becomes convinced that God wants all human life to end. Miraculously, Ila is healed. She conceives twins. Noah does not initially take this as a sign that God wants human life to continue. Noah tells Ila, “God does not smile on your child.” Noah declares that if the babies are born male, they will live, but if they are female, he will kill them as soon as they exit the womb.  Ila and her husband try to escape, but Noah traps them. When the babies are born (both are females,) Noah holds a knife to the forehead of the sleeping infant, as Ila holds the baby, begging Noah to do it quickly, because she is resigned to the fact that she cannot escape. Noah tries to summon his courage to stab the baby, but ultimately cannot. However, he views this as a failure for much of the film. Eventually, Ila comforts Noah, saying that he could not kill the babies because he saw goodness in them, and that God gave him  the choice because God knew Noah would get it right. The buildup to Noah potentially killing his granddaughters is very likely to be triggering to children who have experienced violence, to parents who have lost children to adoption, and to people who have struggled with infertility (it was a miracle that Ila was able to conceive, and already someone is trying to end her children.)

*End Huge Spoiler

I can imagine many families wanting to take their children to a cinematic re-telling of the story of Noah and the Ark. This does seem likely to be a trigger for many families touched by adoption, foster care, or abuse.  There are some good discussions to be launched from this film, but because of the trigger potential, I am limiting my recommendation to age 14 or 15 and up, and I recommend that parents see the film on their own before watching with their children to make sure they’re confident that it won’t be traumatizing for their kids.

Questions for After the Movie

Does the world ever feel like no one is friendly and everyone is hostile?

What have we survived as a family? How has it made us stronger?

Have you ever intended good, but gotten it horribly wrong? How do you recover from this personally, and how do you reconcile with your family? Have you recovered and reconciled?

Why not create a rite of passage for your family. How can you show membership (whether the individual lives with you or not?)

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