Exodus: Gods and Kings and Movie Stars

mosesSo last night we went to see Exodus, not really expecting too much, knowing Ridley Scott was a ‘realist’, aware that movies have to take some licence but nevertheless, still anticipating a blockbuster. As I came away the only feeling I had was… um… well – no feeling at all. It was kind of “Meh…”

I’ve been thinking all day and trying to work out why the film turned out to be so much less than sum of its parts.

I guess there is a part of me that was a little annoyed at the blatant errors versus the biblical narrative. After all this is where the story was first written so it would only be justified if the alternative reality produced a more compelling story or explanation of events?

Here’s just a few of them, in the Bible account

  • There is no suggestion that Moses never knew he was a Hebrew
  • Pharaoh tried to kill Moses and so he ran away
  • He had two children in Midian and the whole family initially went back to Egypt
  • He stood before the burning bush and the angel was in the middle of the bush
  • Moses only asked Pharaoh for a 3 day journey to sacrifice to God
  • It was the Pharaoh alone who needed convincing not the people, his servants already told him Egypt was ruined before the eighth plague even started.
  • Moses staff! – all the stuff he did was done with his staff!
  • Aaron did all the speaking and he met Moses in the wilderness before he returned from Midian
  • Pharaoh acquiesced and asked for each plague to stop before then changing his mind
  • They dabbed blood using hyssop rather than ‘painting’ their doors
  • Only 600 chariots went to re-capture the Hebrews

But as I say, all this could be overlooked if only the story had some internal dramatic integrity. In my opinion it didn’t. Instead it appeared to be a mash-up of conflicting aims. A vehicle for Ridley Scott to experiment with retelling a story in a way he could believe, A vehicle for Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton to seduce themselves by their own style of ‘Marvel’ acting, consisting of either shouting or whispering or else looking with hooded and set features at the mid-distance. Or else a vehicle for thousands of CGI effects (CGI effects = box-office money, surely?) Either way the wheels fell off. The result was one of Letitia Cropley’s recipes, and I’m sorry but that’s how it now feels – a bad taste in my mouth after eating parsnip brownies with a hint of liver.

Someone said that it was a four hour film that was reduced to 2:30 for release. It felt like it. None of the characters ever really developed. I felt no emotion for Moses or Pharaoh yet in anyone’s book this should have been quite emotionally powerful?

But more than everything else, in hindsight perhaps the story in Exodus is not so much about Moses, or Pharaoh, or even Ridley Scott. It’s more about God and any decent film director whether atheist, agnostic of religious should have been able to see that and bring it convincingly to the screen?

About David Allsopp

Married, 4 children, Christian, Head of IT
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