Finding Noah: Day Five at the Twin Cities Film Fest

MV5BMTQ4Nzg4NDA1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODAxODI0NDE@._V1__SX1037_SY469_Thomas Edison: I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that did not work.

That’s one of Edison’s most well-known quotes, and it is repeated in the Brent Baum documentary film called Finding Noah.

Anthropologists, religious scholars, biblical students, adventurers, archeologists, people of strong faith, and scientists of many stripes have been kicking around the question of Noah’s Ark for literally centuries.

Did God really warn and give Noah specific instructions about how to build an ark because he was going to flood the earth, and destroy every living being excepting those on this vessel.

As we hear in this terrific documentary, if God did that, then he did intervene and change the course of human kind. For a number of reasons, over the many years, it has been thought that the final resting place of the Ark was on Mt. Ararat in what is now Eastern Turkey.  At one point this Mt was part of the Ottoman Empire, and was also a part of Armenia. Because of shifting political alliances and warfare, this Mountain now is a part of Turkey.

So a trek is organized. Funding, permits, equipment, and weather all come into play. On top of that there is only a specific time of the year when authorized expeditions can be allowed to set forth. The plan is that on Day One, they will hike to 3200 feet and stay in Base Camp. Actually base camp is not a formal or structural presence or location. It is mainly a piece of a plateau big enough and relatively flat enough to sustain about a dozen tents going up.

Day Two’s distance traveled will be up to 4200 feet. That is only about a thousand feet above Base Camp. But the grade is much steeper, so the going is harder, slower, and more grueling. They will stay at this level for two nights to acclimatize themselves to this altitude.

Don’t forget that while at this level, while you are doing more of mountaineering than rock climbing, you are dealing with the cold weather, the thinner oxygen, and you are carrying everything necessary to reach the summit on your own backs. And yes there is a deep gorge in the area as well as many deep crevasses. This is not Nepal, and Ararat goes only to 17,000+ feet. But there are no Sherpas here.

Eventually, the summit is reached – but that is just a part of the story. Now common sense dictates that if the Ark was to be found, the likelihood is that it would have been found long before. In today’s world, there are technologies available to assist in finding the remnants of the ark. Satellite imagery, sonar listening devices that can send out sound waves that can detect the differences in the returned signals that are bouncing off ice or bouncing off a different kind of material.

Also there were some long classified photos taken by our U2 spy planes 50 years ago. When these photo were finally declassified, analysts were able to determine that ark shapes could be seen through shallower ice fields. Counter arguments were that those shapes were really upward shifts in the earth’s surface made by shifting glacier movements.

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But the facts are clear. The tree line, all over the earth reaches no higher than 11,000 feet. Meaning that nothing can grow at that elevation. So what the scientists were hoping to find were one of two things – either some small wood shards that had remained perfectly entombed within the ice for thousands of years, or some small segment of the ‘pitch’ that God had directed to Noah to use as the sealant to keep the water out of the ark, thereby protecting the contents (the living beings – both animal or human) aboard the ark.

Said another way – start with finding a needle in a haystack, then exponentially expand that to either wood shards or a substance used as a sealant buried for a millennium under ice on the top of a mountain.

That’s your movie. The fact of the matter is that this location is one of the most inhospitable places in the world these days. Basically the cradle of civilization – a concept important in three of the worlds greatest religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not sitting anywhere  where access would be easy.

While most of this film was shot in 2013 – in the years following since  then, no requests for permits for expeditions have been granted.

So why should this documentary be of interest to you? First of all, you won’t believe how well made this documentary is. From the on-location shots, to the fact that some of the crew lived on the top of Mt. Ararat for as much as 30 days, to the animation, CGI, graphics, the narration by actor Gary Sinise, and even the sound and editing – this documentary is all top shelf as well as top-of-the-line. This easily compares to anything you might see on The History Channel, or the National Geographic Channel.

But at the heart of the story is the fact the finding Noah’s Ark has both a scientific element to it as well as a spiritual element. There’s the fact that living in a place where nothing can grow, puts all that choose to do so directly into the hands of Mother Nature.

Finally, there is the political element or should I say challenge. The Turkish Kurds on one side of the mountain are fighting ISIS, and on the other side of the mountain, the Kurds are considered as rebel forces themselves because of their fierce fight for independence from Turkey.

I found this documentary to be excellent. Interesting, challenging, insightful, and thought-provoking are descriptive terms that come to mind. When he got home from this expedition, director Brent Baum told the audience at the TCFF that he had more than four hours of footage. Imagine the task in editing all that down to 97 minutes of first class film making.  I can easily recommend this documentary to you.

Check out the trailer:

For more on this, and the difficulties in putting this project together, you can read an interview given by the film’s director Brent Baum to Ruth Maramis on her blog flixchatter.net.

Here is a link to that interview:

http://flixchatter.net/2015/10/25/spotlight-on-finding-noah-doc-interview-with-director-brent-baum/

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2 thoughts on “Finding Noah: Day Five at the Twin Cities Film Fest

  1. Is there a “preachy” or Evangelical-type underpinning to the story? I saw the preview for this at the movies recently, and that was my concern. The story sounds fascinating, but I was concerned about the film masking an ulterior, pseudo-conversative religious agenda of some kind on the part of the filmmaker.

    • I’d have to say no.

      First – there was too much science involved. To much discussion of equipment and results.

      Second there was mention of the political aspects regarding permits, admissions.

      Third – while a few of those on this trip admitted that they wanted o find even a small remnant of the Ark to solidify their own faith and beliefs, they were a minority in the film.

      The people were too much of a cross section of religions and races – there was NO lead religion or majority religion.

      Personally I believe the religious aspect of the visuals were intended as a variable or alternative, as in a verse instead of a repetitive chorus. What we got was an adventure, a hunt, and lots of questions. Obviously they didn’t find anything – hence the Edison quote – which came from the film, and not from me.

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