The movie Evan Almighty is a modern retelling of the genesis as the modern day version of the story of Noah’s ark is presented. It is a retelling of Noah’s ark as explained in Bible with certain variations. The story of Noah’s ark is put into the modern day context of politics. As part of modern retelling of genesis, we find differences and similarities between the movie and the actual Noah’s ark.
The movie has been touted as a well-grounded retelling of genesis. The major role played out by Steve Carell who is a newly elected member to Congress and former local television newsman migrates from his hometown of Buffalo, New York to Virginia—suburban northern part. The most important point in the movie is that Carell has been recruited like Noah by God to for a special mission.
He is an ambitious man who wants to change the world. The great flood is imminent and he therefore has to build an ark in a bid to save the wildlife of the world from the ravages of flood. Evan Baxter moved to Washington with her family. He is preparing to scale and influence U.S. policy but a higher power gives a very different mission. Indeed, God asks him to build an ark to house two members of each species because of a looming catastrophe.
He leaves his hometown because he has been called by God to perform the special duty of building an ark and saving the world. Though, the movie has been accused of blasphemy for showing God in human form yet its reference to Biblical account of Noah’s ark can be described as modern day retelling of genesis.
The Biblical verse: Genesis 6:13 and Genesis 6:14 is used in the movie which comes with Evan’s alarm while stating it. “And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh has come before me Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the truth.”
Another verse goes “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.” (6:14) The analogy one finds is that much like Noah himself, Evan begins to build this ark according to the will of God. The movie retells the genesis of Noah through the re-enactment of the flood.(Tania, 14)
It also makes insightful observations about life and faith by exploring what it might have been like for biblical characters like Noah—his dealings with coworkers, family and neighbors. For example, when Baxter explains his intentions and plans to God, He replies laughing, “Your plans?”
Another important thing that this movie tries to portray is the treatment of a man claiming to have been in direct communication with God at the hands of people around. The people do not take warning seriously hence laugh it off.
Freeman who is playing the role of God in the movie states, “Whatever I do, I do it because I love you,” this very statement elucidates the recurring theme of God’ love for humanity. However, the God presented in the movie is not as harsh as it was in Noah’s time. Evan cannot afford to refuse God’s orders to build the ark therefore starts constructing it just like Noah did.
Evan had continued building this ark that God wanted him to build as even the size of ark is stated in Genesis 6:15 based on his faith only.( ) “And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.”
At another instance God says “And behold, I myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; every-thing that is on the earth shall die.” In contrast, there is sharp deviation from this biblical line.
The flood in the movie does not come on the magnitude as it was being expected to destroy the whole lot. God’s attributes are presented without an iota of blasphemy as He is portrayed as loving, compassionate, kind and sovereign. He is portrayed as He actually was in Noah’s time: omnipresent, all powerful, and an entity that influence’s human’s lives.
Some critics argue that the direct portrayal of God in human form in the movie is not intended to injure religious sentiment or mock the wrath of God but this has been used as a way to help people understand the attributes of God. For example, Jesus also used parables to describe the things of God to people with extremely limited comprehension and ability to understand grand subject like this one.(Kevin, 2007)
Nevertheless, the movie toes a completely different line from that of Noah’s in many ways. For example, the movie does not glaringly and fairly depict God’s holiness and His wrath for the sins that people of Noah had committed. Towards the end of the movie, God reveals to Evan that only one act of random kindness at time could change the world—an idea quite contrary to what actually happened in Noah’s time.
Only Noah, his family, and animals could survive the floods but in the movie people in the first place laughs at the idea of building an ark but when the dam collapses they also ride on the ark to save themselves. The film also reinforces the need for the protection of the environment.(Mark, 65)
It may also be argued that since we cannot have a face-to-face communication with God because of His limitless power neither can we endure His anger therefore the idea of not portraying such aspect of God in the movie is well-grounded and justified. On the other hand, God’s image as human’s savior, father and best friend and His very deep and personal relationship with human beings has been accurately portrayed.
God was the savior of Noah, his family, and animals. In the movie too, he has been depicted with the same attribute with the exception of disastrous flooding that had swept away the disobedient lot in Noah’s time.
In the movie, whatever God forebodes does prove true such as flood comes for a brief period. Those who initially laugh at the plans of Evan and his warning can be compared to the disobedient lot of Noah. Though the plot (being a comedy) of the story does elicit laughter to some extent but it does increase audience’s interest in God. Such a retelling of genesis fully elaborates the nature of God’s relationship with the mankind.
He may ask his creatures to do something that people do not understand as in the case of Evan but his plan is always the best for human beings.(Leta,54) The movie by providing an entertaining story hints at God’s grace. The movie may well be called an inspirational and devotional story which inspires its readers to relate to the Noah’s ark.
By reminding it, it actually serves to infuse the love of God among people. It may safely be said that the movie based on biblical account of Noah’s ark compels its readers to ponder on the generosity and grace of God. All in all, the biblical story of Noah and ark receives a comic expression in Evan Almighty. In other words, it is strong modern retelling of genesis.
Tania, Gerryson, Crossing the Rainbow Bridge, Dorrance Publishing, 130 pages 2009
Kevin, Johnson, Evan Almighty Devotional, Zondervan, 128 pages 2007
Mark, Pizzato, Inner Theatres of Good and Evil: The Mind's Staging of Gods, Angels and Devils, McFarland, 368 pages, 2010
Leta, Hamilton, The Way of the Toddler, Leta Hamilton, 228 pages 2010