I didn’t end up watching The Passion of the Christ again last night; instead I saw the BBC’s recent retelling of the story of Noah, The Ark (available on iPlayer until the end of the month).
It is billed as drawing on Biblical and Qur’anic sources, which you can read side by side online. It seemed to lean more towards the former source (although, to be fair, that is the one I am much more familiar with) and took plenty of liberties with what to add in and take out. In particular, there is a notable lack of animals entering the ark two by two while the tally of human occupants is increased by 20-30 assorted other people who play little active part but had responded to Noah’s attempts to warn the people of the nearby city.
Reading the comments on the programme website, it has had a marmite reaction, with people either loving it or hating it. In the latter category are those who take issue with how it changes the original story and those who see the story — and the retelling — as depicting exactly the kind of God they choose not to believe in. However, while it wasn’t without its flaws (where did Noah get all that wood in the middle of a barren desert? At least in Evan Almighty the supplies were clearly explained as appearing miraculously), I came away impressed.
Noah was portrayed as someone who expressed faith, hope and love: not a lunatic, not a fire-and-brimstone prophet but someone you could see as being perhaps a bit like Jesus. Given the role of Noah in the wider thread of the Biblical story, I think this is an entirely appropriate depiction. I also thought it was fascinating to hear very modern arguments on the tongues of the faith-rejecting people of the city. While talk of “science disproving God” is probably a touch anachronistic, it does serve to illustrate that this is a story that still has relevance for today.
The Ark adds and takes away from the original, spinning the original chapters (Genesis 6-9) into a 90 minute drama while pass over the flood itself so quickly you could almost miss it (I’ll have to double check — perhaps I did fall asleep for that bit!). However, it is retelling a story that comes from a time before our modern expectations of history and I think it does reflect genuine aspects of the life of faith so certainly a worthwhile contribution to religious programming from the BBC in my books.