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Noah’s Arc in Film and TV

Noah,” a cinematic mix of “The Perfect Storm” and “We Bought a Zoo,” hit theaters nationwide Friday. It’s the latest in a tradition of films based on a religious text.

We’ve been playing around with a dataset of IMDb.com tags, the keywords referring to plot or thematic content applied to the millions of television episodes, hundreds of thousands of feature-length films and shorts, and video games that comprise the Internet Movie Database. So, in honor of “Noah,” I decided to look at IMDb’s “Reference to ___” tags for the most common shout-outs to biblical and religious ideas. (Keep in mind, IMDb tags are an imperfect metric. They’re added and maintained by volunteers, and there are inconsistencies in the tagging. For instance, both Satan and the Devil show up in the top 30 keywords below.)

By and large, the top 30 are almost entirely of the Judeo-Christian bent. Noah is the 13th most frequently referenced biblical or religious figure. “Noah’s Flood” is the 29th, and “Noah’s Ark” is 30th. So Russell Crowe is in good company this weekend when it comes to playing the Bible’s most famous animal conservationist.

Reference Keywords
1 Jesus Christ 1,449
2 God 1,235
3 Satan 421
4 Moses 145
5 Saint Paul 132
6 Adam and Eve 131
7 The Book of Genesis 128
8 The Book of Revelation 112
9 The Antichrist 105
10 The Devil 104
11 Lucifer 91
12 The Virgin Mary 90
13 Noah 85
14 Abraham 79
14 The Ten Commandments 79
16 Paul the Apostle 74
17 King David 73
18 Adam 72
19 The Garden of Eden 69
19 The Book of Isaiah 69
21 The Epistle to the Romans 68
22 The Pope 67
23 Allah 66
23 The Holy Spirit 66
25 The Holy Ghost 65
26 The Book of Matthew 61
27 The Acts of the Apostles 60
28 Peter the Apostle 59
29 Noah’s Flood 58
30 Noah’s Ark 54

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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