The story of Noah’s Ark portrays the theme of human destruction and the courage it takes for human revival and reestablishment. Modern interpretations of the story of Noah’s Ark illustrate the wickedness of the humans that can be found in Genesis and connect them to issues of 20th and 21st century. These themes include environmental issues and the effects of greed on society. The exhibits and movies about Noah’s Ark, however, create an everlasting influence on viewers and visitors, and in some way or another retell the story to educate the humans living today about Noah’s Ark. Although the story of Noah’s ark was written sometime between 1000 BCE and 500 BCE, its recreation in amusement parks around the world prove its everlasting influence on humanity. In a society where social media, reality television, and advanced technology govern everyday life, one could reasonably assume that stories within the Bible do not have an influence on modern society. However, just as Disneyland entertains millions of people each year with rides and immersive experiences, Noah’s ark inspired amusement parks are being created with the dual purpose of entertaining and educating a new generation of people. One of these amusement parks is the Skirball center, which opened in 1996, has become one of the world’s most dynamic cultural institutions, and proudly highlights its Jewish culture. According to The Value of Risk: Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center, published in The Journal of Museum Education, the founders of the center desired to “step forward with new strategies, new alliances, and new ways to forge civic engagement” (Bernstein). The Skirball Center aims to relate the ancient story of Noah’s Ark to the world in which we live in. The center’s Noah’s Ark exhibit was built in June 2007, and since has “become tremendously popular with family and school visitors, including mommy-bloggers who now, unsolicited, play a big role in driving attendance” (Bernstein). The fact that the new generation of bloggers are enjoying the exhibit, and then recommending it to all their followers, shows that a story from thousands of years ago is still pertinent to modern life. Once people enjoy this interactive, educational exhibit, they gain a clear understanding of the historic biblical story, but they can also create personal connections how immersive it is. The floor-to-ceiling wooden ark and replicas of 186 life-sized animals allow for a multitude of learning styles, including role-playing, problem solving, and other gross-motor activities. All of these components allow the visitors to pretend to be passengers upon the ark, and they get to help feed the animals, sweep the deck, and return eggs to their respective nests. Thus, any person who attends this exhibit undergoes a very detailed educational process, while being able to engrossed in the exhibit due to its interactivity. At first glance, this replica of the ark may seem to be the opposite of current entertainment trends, however, its old-fashioned, laid back style of interactivity, allows it to be a new form of entertainment that many people did not even realize they were seeking until they are introduced to it.
Two prominent modern film adaptations of the story of Noah’s Ark are Noah, a drama in which Noah has been chosen by God to build an Ark for his family and the animals of the earth because the rest of the world has become marred in sin, and Evan Almighty, a comedy where an elected official has moved to a suburban town and he is chosen by God to build an Ark due to an impending flood. The former is set thousands of years in the past while the latter occurs in the 21st Century. Despite these striking differences, they both show how the themes implicit in Noah’s Ark are still pertinent to the world today. Noah, featuring Russell Crowe and Emma Watson, revolves around the oppressive ruler, Tubal- Cain, trying to board the Ark when he discovers that the great flood will be coming. God sends the flood because Tubal- Cain and his people have become corrupt and abuse the land in order to extract raw materials. This abuse of land inevitably evolves into doing irreparable damage to our planet. Now, exploiting the Earth as a means to getting natural resources in something that is central to the global economy. Furthermore, activities like fracking and building pipelines for the transportation of oil are subjected to widespread outrage due to the disrespect of nature that occurs. Genesis tells us that God gave humanity dominion over the Earth so we could tend and protect it; God said to Adam and Eve, “fill the earth and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the waters and the birds of the air. Rule over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28-29). The underlying message of Noah is that we must remember that the Earth is a gift and there are consequences , which are detrimental to humanity, that arise from not taking care of our planet. The comedy Evan Almighty has the theme of respecting nature compounded with widespread corruption in the upper- class of the world. Evan, a newly elected congressmen, moves to a upscale suburban town in Virginia. Part of Evan’s platform is to pass an act that would employ greater measures to protect wildlife. Another politician encourages Evan to not pass the act because he recently sponsored the construction of a dam, and the act would end up losing him money. God instructs Evan to build an Ark and gather pairs of animals to board it. Predictably, the community regards Evan as crazy; even his wife and children leave him. Through divine intervention, Evan’s family returns, and they finish building the ark. Shortly after the animals board, a flood comes down and causes destruction in the town. Ironically, the flood was a product of Mr. Long, the aforementioned congressman, cutting corners while constructing his dam in order to save money. This greed led to a crisis in his community. Like Noah, Evan Almighty shows that we must respect the earth and that greed is detrimental to society. Both of these themes are part in parcel to the story of Noah’s Ark. The Skirball exhibit was built to attract people to enjoy the feel of an amusement park, while also learning about the facts of the story of Noah’s Ark. As Skirball provides a source of entertainment, the interactive exhibit also produces a clear understanding about the historic story. On the other hand, the two movies provide a different source of entertainment; one through comedy and one through drama. These two different genres allow people to engage in the story of Noah’s Ark in multiple ways . Whichever movie they decide to watch; they will both take away the two modern, underlying themes; environmental destruction and that greed is detrimental to society. All three exhibits and both themes connect to the story and the destruction and recreation of the humans portrayed in Genesis.
Noah - The Movie
The video explains how two directors created a movie based upon the story found in Genesis. Modern biblical examples can be found throughout the movie and are explained in the video above.