Australian Council on Children and the Media

Noah

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance strongly recommended 13-15 due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Noah
  • a review of Noah completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 April 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance strongly recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Noah
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence and mature themes
Length 138 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film begins with a voice-over in which we learn that Noah, a descendant of Seth, and his family are all that remain of the goodness of mankind, while the descendants of Cain spread wickedness across the Earth

The film’s main story begins when Noah as a young boy is about to receive his birthright from his father Lamech (Martan Csokas). During the ceremony the young self-proclaimed king Tubal-Cain arrives, announcing that he will take all that Lamech possesses. Tubal-Cain then kills Lamech, but Noah escapes into the wilderness.

Years later Noah (Russell Crowe) is living a life of seclusion with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), his three sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll) and a young girl called Ila (Emma Watson), who Noah and his family saved from death and adopted.

After experiencing nightmares involving the destruction of mankind by drowning, Noah seeks out his reclusive grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) in a hope of gaining some answers. While visiting Methuselah, Noah has a vision in which he realises the Creator’s plan; Noah is to build a gigantic ark that will save the innocent of the world, including animals, from a catastrophic flood that the Creator is sending to destroy the wickedness of mankind.

Despite many difficulties, the ark is finally completed as the rains begin. An army led by Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) arrives and attempts to storm the ark, but with the help of fallen angels, called the Watchers, Noah and his family together with two of every type of animal, escape.

Aboard the ark in the following months, Noah and his family endure a number of trials and tribulations which test their faith, but eventually the rains subside and the ark comes to rest on the side of a mountain.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

God as Creator; Bible stories; religious faith; good versus evil

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains battle violence involving the use of clubs, stakes, spears and rocks, which is at times brutal and disturbing, and graphic images of violence against animals. There is some blood and gore.  Examples include:  

  • Several times throughout the film we see a silhouette image of Cain holding a large rock, raising his arms and bringing the rock down to brutally smash Abel’s head. At one point in the film, the same silhouette image is repeated a number of times. Each time the image transforms into versions that represent conflict between men throughout the ages, from ancient times to modern. 
  • One scene depicts an unarmed man being attacked by a small group of men wielding clubs and sharpened sticks. The man being attacked pulls a broken arrow from a wounded animal and uses the arrow to stab one of his attackers in the side of the neck and another attacker in the thigh, we see blood pouring out of a large bloody wound in the man’s thigh, by the end of the short fight all of the attackers are lying dead on the ground.
  • In several scenes we hear Noah saying that the Creator is going to destroy mankind.
  • In two scenes, a man bludgeons men with a spiked hammer; in one scene we see blood spray out as the man falls to the ground and in the other blood and gore drip from the hammer.
  • One scene contains images of large fireballs raining down on a gathering of thousands of people, engulfing them in fire.
  • In a fierce battle we see an angry mob attack a dozen Watchers. The Watchers use giant clubs to smash their attackers and bodies and severed limbs flying through the air in all directions. One man lies on the ground with a large bloody wound in his leg and blood on his face. Watchers are impaled on metal stakes, chopped in the neck with large axes and hit with burning stones. Noah spears one attacker in the back, strikes another in the chest with an axe, and cuts the throat of an attacker with a knife.       

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The Watchers are gigantic, grotesque creatures with glowing eyes made from rocks.  
  • When the Watchers are killed they explode out of the rock-like skin in a beam of white light.
  • In one scene we see thousands of snakes, lizards, and insects of all descriptions slithering and crawling across the ground to get to the ark and Noah’s youngest child screaming and running away from the slithering mass.
  • In several flashback scenes we see brief images of a large snake with a green head slithering along the ground. The snake sheds its skin to have a hissing black head with large fangs.   

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • There are bloody scenes of  animals being butchered.
  • A live animal is thrown over a fence into a crowd of people and they rip the animal apart and eat it raw. 
  • A man cuts the throat of a large sleeping animal. Blood gushes out and sprays over the face of a boy standing nearby. A short time later we see the dead animal lying with its stomach cut open and its entrails hanging out and draping across the ground.  
  • One scene contains apocalyptic images of a giant tidal wave washing away and drowning hundreds of people; we see dozens of people beneath the wave being tossed around as if in a washing machine. A short time later we see hundreds of people clinging to the side of a mountain as flood waters rage around them and we hear then screaming out for mercy and to be saved; we see a giant wave sweep the clinging people from the rock and wash them away. Inside the arc we see Noah’s family emotionally and psychologically distraught by the death and destruction they hear occurring outside. 
  • Noah and his family find a young girl at a scene of carnage. She has a large bloody sword wound across her abdomen. Noah’s wife smears ointment on the wound.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • In a large mob of people, a man drags a screaming girl away by her hair. The man exchanges the girl with other men for a piece of meat and says that he has two girls to exchange for meat.
  • A teenage boy rescues a girl from a large pit containing hundreds of dead bodies. They escape through a forest chased by an angry mob.  The girl gets her foot caught in an animal trap and falls to the ground screaming in pain. The boy tries in vain to release the girl’s foot and his father pulls him out of the path of the angry mob while the girl is trampled to death.
  • During the voyage of the ark Ila becomes pregnant and Noah tells the girl and his family that if she has a daughter he will kill the baby at the moment of her birth. Noah infers that he doesn’t want to perform the act but that it is God’s will for him to do this. When the young woman gives birth to twin daughters, Noah stands over Ila and the babies holding a large hunting style knife as she pleads with him not to kill her daughters. Noah holds the knife to the chest of one of the infants but becomes distressed and is unable to kill them, kissing the infants on their heads instead.   

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None

Sexual references

The film contains occasional sexual references. Examples include:

  • Noah’s teenage son asks Noah about a mate for himself. He tells Noah that he needs to be a man and that by not providing a woman for him is stopping him from being a man. Noah tells son that he is blinded by desire. 
  • Shem’s partner Ila tells Noah that she is unable to have children and that Shem needs a “real” woman to give him a family. She says that she knows Noah is going to find women for his other two sons and that she wants him to find one for Shem too.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Shem and Ila run through a forest in a playful manner, fall to the ground and kiss passionately. He lifts her shirt to reveal her bare abdomen and kisses an old scar on her stomach. In a later scene we see her kissing him passionately and beginning to remove her clothing.
  • Ila goes into labour, gasping in pain and we hear the sound of her waters breaking and splashing on to the deck. A short time later we see her lying on her back in the advanced stages of labour and Naameh handing her a new born infant, shortly followed by a second.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Noah drinks a cup of tea which appears to be laced with a drug that causes him to hallucinate and have prophetic visions.
  • Noah drinks wine from a cup and becoming intoxicated to the point where he falls down unconscious.

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Noah is an emotionally and visually intense portrayal of the Bible tale of Noah’s Ark targeted at an older adolescent and adult audience. Parents are cautioned that the film contains scenes and images that will disturb children under thirteen and possibly some slightly older.  These include bloody battles, scenes of violent mobs and cruelty to animals.

The main messages from the film include:

  • While religion provides guidance for life, as humans we have the ability to make our own choices and determine our own destiny.
  • People have a collective responsibility to care for each other, the world we live in and the environment.

 Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Persistence through adversity: Throughout the film Noah maintains his faith and beliefs regardless of the trial and tribulations he encounters and the personal cost.

Parents may wish to discuss the emotional conflict Noah suffers as a result of conflict between his faith and his own moral reasoning. Is there circumstance when following a person’s faith should override a country’s laws? Should one person’s faith and beliefs take precedence over another person’s faith and beliefs?    

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