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This is the Jealous God that Huston carries throughout his film as a representation of Godly power. This view also raises many associated questions; such as the fact that God must also have been the originator of the snake. In this section and in the others that follow it seems that the central impetus in the film is in reality a critique and an indictment of the God of the Old Testament, as the lecture notes suggest.
In the film the Bible it is the humanism and the sensationalism of the biblical text or rather the reduction of the Biblical text to the human level in terms of motivation that characterizes Huston's Interpretation of the characters. The central theme of jealousy is continued in the story of Cain and Abel. The murder of Abel by Cain is also a question of jealousy in that the one brother is accepted by God, while the other is not.
This emphasis on jealousy is one that will occur again and again the film. While this interpretation of the Biblical text given by Huston does conform to one reading of the bible, it also ignores more esoteric and less humanistically influenced views of the biblical text.
One reason for the interpretation and view of Biblical events that Huston took is that he had to be mindful of the requirements of his audience. Possibly he felt that a more complex vision of the Bible would be too radical and upset most of his audience at the time. As the lecture notes state: "... Huston...is himself at the mercy of the audience..." (lecture notes) the lecture notes also make certain assertions about the film which I feel go to the very heart of the portrayal of the character and the general ethos of the work as a whole.
Huston's biblical God appears to like to watch pain and suffering; there is evil in the world because the biblical God is evil.... Huston's portrayal is unequivocal: God is bad. In my own understanding, when, in the opening chapters, things are called "good," it means that they are in their proper place, that they fulfill their intended purpose." lecture Notes)
The above view relates to the way that Huston portrays character and edits the text of the Bible accordingly. The way that God deals with Cain in general follows the Biblical text but the director ensures that harsh justice and cruelty of God is portrayed in a clear and explicit way. There is no attempt to soften or excuse the actions of God and the acting does not add any ameliorating nuances to the pain and hurt that the character feels.
For the murder of his brother Cain is banished to the wilderness and furthermore is marked with the image of the tree of good and evil on his forehead. "On Cain's forehead, drawn, as it were by the finger of God, is the leafless, serpent-less Tree of Knowledge." (Lecture Notes)
There is certain unfairness or moral incongruity in the way that the predicament of Cain is portrayed in the film.
While he was hard working and industrious he was refused by God when offering his sacrifice only because he withheld some grain. This is a small fault but the fact that God rejects his offering results in the murder of his brother and severe consequences. This once again emphasizes the central theme of the jealous God who will not tolerate any sign of disloyalty to disobedience, no matter how small. This view emphasizes the central point suggested in the previous section; namely that in his humanization and popularization of God for his audience, the director places increasing emphasis on a God who is jealous and rather petty.
There is a tendency in the Huston interpretation of the God of the Old Testament to make Him "Lamech-like' (lecture notes)
As the lecture commentary explains this: "Lamech threatens to crush anyone who threatens to mess with him. Lamech's teaching is that "might is right." Huston's version of the biblical God makes "Him" Lamech-like; Huston's biblical God operates according to the principle that might is right." (Lecture Notes)
There are many areas of the film that can be shown to be different to the Bible and which embellishes on the original Biblical text. The portrayal and interpretation of Noah is certainly out of synchronization with the Biblical text and an area where the director has used artistic license in order to color and dramatize his script. However, this portrayal of Noah once again emphasizes the importance of the unwavering and unquestioning obedience to the God of the Old Testament.
Noah is depicted in an almost comedic light as a rather eccentric character. In the film we see him humorously half - hiding in a doorway from God and sliding down a galleyway in the Ark onto his sleeping or inebriated son. This slightly comic view of Noah is intended firstly to create a humorous audience reaction and is also necessary in an artistic sense to act as an emotional counterfoil to the harshness and darkness of the previous scenes. While it can be argued that this interpretation is artistically acceptable, it also tends to reduce the father of civilization to a clown- like figure.
Beside the liberties taken with Noah's character there are many other aspects that are omitted for the film - such as the reference to the "Nephilim" or human - divine creatures that are mentioned at the start of the Biblical story. Therefore the film avoids the larger and more mysterious or esoteric context of the story of Moses.
There are also aspect that could have added depth to our understanding of Noah and his family in the Biblical context that are, I think, intentionally ignored; for example, the biblical fact of Noah's drunkenness an exposure to this sons.
The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled. Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent.
These omissions are purposeful in that the director wants to present a clear and unambiguous picture of Noah, so as not to confuse his public
What Huston does present clearly in his interpretation of the character of Noah is Noah as the obedient and never - questioning servant of God. His strengths are his calm acceptance, compliance and his unbending loyalty to whatever God says that he must do. He is the prefect servant of the One God and carries out every order to the last letter. His weaknesses are those that have been referred to, such as his drunkenness. These are not mentioned in the film with the envious implication that the director saw them as elements that would detract from the image of utter and perfect selfless devotion to God that he was attempting to present. As in the Garden of Eden, Huston interprets the God of the Old Testament as only being pleased when humans exhibit a robotic acceptance of God's instructions. While I think that there is a truth to be explored in this view, yet it is also obvious that Huston view of a jealous and demanding God is a bias that affects the entire interpretation of the film.
A cardinal aspect to the entire story of Noah and the flood, as it is portrayed in the film, is the harshness and apparent cruelty of the God who would destroy every living thing, including children. The reaction of Noah's wife to the flood and the screams of those who are dying outside the ark are illustrative of the themes that have been mentioned above. His wife can't bear the idea of so much suffering and asks what the noise is. She is obviously perturbed and moved by the sounds of those who are dying outside. Moses on the other hand is calmly unperturbed by the events and accepts Gods actions with an almost callous acceptance of things in the film.
This is a reference to his strength in that he is a complete servant of the Old Testament God and accepts the judgment of God on world without any question. Therefore through the portrayal of Noah, Huston again provides an insight into his underlying view of the God of the Old Testament. Through the character of Noah it is implied that there must be total and an unquestioning acceptance of the word of God.
In this section of the film there is a decided emphasis on certain aspects and areas of the Biblical text. The 'editing' or the selection of what to include from the Biblical text and they way that these aspects are portrayed and interpreted, is again determined by the underlying and predilections and view…[continue]
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