You are on page 1of 3

I hated this movie, pretty much from start to protracted finish.

While
Ridley Scott is undoubtedly a visual artist and does epic vistas and
battle scenes on a grand and sweeping scale, this could only slightly
offset a truly horrible mess of a script and a frustrating, confusing and
frankly rather blasphemous interpretation of the Moses story.
Scott's distinctive visual style apart, I thought every other part of this
movie was bad and I started to check out after 30 minutes. By the hour
mark, I was completely gone and then had to suffer another hour and a
half of turgid melodrama.
Casting was terrible I thought. John Turturro as Pharoah was a horrible
choice given he usually does comically ironic roles, and Joel Edgerton
as Ramses and Ben Mendehlson as an Egyptian governor weren't
much better. Admittedly Edgerton is a very fine actor but he just
seemed out of place here, had the wrong look for it. Christian Bale was
the only casting decison which made sense to me.
Accents were all over the place too. To watch Australian and American
actors play ancient Egyptians in a sort of 'faux British' accent was
somewhat baffling and then you had Christian Bale, an Englishman,
playing an ancient hebrew in an American accent... truly astonishing.
Then there was the anomaly of good actors like Ben Kingsley as Nun,
Sigourney Weaver as the Queen and Aaron Paul as Joshua who had
barely anything to do throughout - completely wasted as characters.
Ben Kingsley in particular was set up very strongly then all but
disappeared for the rest of the film. Likewise Moses' bond with his wife
and son was set up strongly, then they disappeared completely til the
end of the film. Miriam appeared in one scene and then disappeared,
and Aaron was almost a non-entity.
I think the decision to focus on Ramses' and Moses' relationship was a
seriously wrong choice. It left all the other characters underdeveloped. It
was Moses' story and the people around him should have been fleshed
out more. Instead this film cribbed shamelessly from Gladiator, with the
dying King favouring his non legitmate (but more capable) son over the
rightful heir. Then, when the King dies, the rightful heir takes over and
turns bad, forcing the illegitmate but more worthy son into exile. To me,
this was trying to create a dramatic premise which had very little to do
with the Biblical story. Also, having Moses as a great General I think
was again a very 'Hollywood', but completely non-Biblical choice. And
the scene where Moses saves Ramses' life in battle was so telegraphed
and ham-fisted it seemed total cliche and actually bore little relation to
the rest of the film as Moses never ended up ruling over Ramses.

Committing to the choice of Moses as a great war General driven into
exile, meant when he came back to Egypt he started organising the
Jewish rabble into hardened fighting troops instead of going to see
Pharaoah as in the Bible. Again I thought this was a terrible and
completely non-Biblical choice. In this movie Moses never even went to
Pharaoah in his court and said 'Let my people go', instead he puts a
sword to his throat in the stables and threatens war. Then, after an inital
foray, Moses goes into hiding and goes completely quiet while watching
his Jewish compatriots being hung. Having an inactive protagonist like
this is just dramatic death as well as going against everything in the
Biblical account.
This film portrays Moses as a vacillating, unconvinced, stumbling man,
unsure whether he has faith or not, whereas in the Biblical account he is
fully obedient to God and is full of faith and power. But the convention of
needing a protagnist to have an 'arc', meant they kept Moses vacillating
until the very end as he discovers faith finally at the Red Sea. Again,
very Hollywood, but not at all Biblical. And to compound all the factual
inaccuracies Moses even leaves his Staff at home with his son,
whereas God specifically tells Moses to use his Staff in Pharoah's court,
and later to part the Red Sea (but again, now being a General, he does
it with his sword).
I could see what Scott was trying to do, I just entirely disagree with it.
He was trying to show a less cliched version of Moses than the stilted
'Ten Commandments' version in the 1950's... a more complex,
doubting, frail, human version, and kudos for that but I feel he went way
too far the other way. He almost actively had Moses have very little faith
in God after the burning bush, only committed to the very human goal of
freeing his people one way or another. This is pasting a very humanistic
viewpoint over what is by it's very essence, a non-humanistic story.
Even with the plagues and miracles, Scott attempted to have a bob
each way, trying to explain them just from scientific or ecological
viewpoints, but then having to change gears and show the killing of the
first born as truly miraculous because there was no way to 'explain' that
away. And even in the climactic scene, the parting of the Red Sea... it
clearly says the water stood up in two great columns and the Israelites
passed through the middle. But here, the tide just gradually recedes to
create a dry sea bed and then a storm comes to create a big tidal wave.
Then the need for Moses and Ramses to have a final face off has the
wave sweeping BOTH Moses and Ramses away, and WORSE,
Ramses then survives... though for no particular reason... just to wander
the beach at the end. Again, very Hollywood, not very Biblical.

But all these factual errors and wrong choices aren't the worst of
Exodus' 'sins' in my opinion. What I found truly annoying was the
depiction of God and his relationship to Moses.
I don't have a problem with God being depicted as a ten year old boy
per se, it was his attitude and language which I found very 'off'. He was
somewhat whiny and bratty and vengeful and spiteful... just with
superhuman powers. There was no love or compassion. This is not the
God I know but it is all too often how people like to portray God...
And Moses' relationship with God was testy, untrusting, argumentative
and resentful. Again, not from my reading of the Bible. After the
encounter at the burning bush, Moses, although initially hesitant, is a
truly transformed man of faith and power, fully trusting God. And even in
the burning bush scene itself we see Scott's need to 'change things up'.
He has Moses slipping over in a mudslide, breaking his leg and lying
almost submerged in the mud, turning his head to one side to see the
boy who has appeared. Whereas in the Bible God says to him, 'take off
your sandals for you are standing on Holy ground' so I'm not quite sure
how Moses could be lying in a pool of mud at that point. I think the
filmmakers' need to override convention and 'dirty it up', make it more
human, completely subverts authenticity and veracity, which I
personally found very, very annoying. A non-cliched telling of Moses'
story could have been done without the need to subvert absolutely
everything in the Biblical account at every point. That to me just
represents a deliberate contrariness for it's own sake and is counterproductive.
In the end, I have to say, with both Noah and Exodus, if you are going
to tell those stories, you don't have to resort to total cliche, but I think it
is good to remain faithful to the spirit and broad facts behind them.
Neither of these movies did that in my opinion and if it hadn't been for
the studios being nervous about how the 'Christian' audience would
recieve them and therefore bringing in consultants, they would have
diverged far more. If the filmmakers wanted to tell a different story than
the Biblical one, why not have the courage to make up one up
themselves, rather than piggyback off an established story many hold
sacred but twist it to suit their own worldview.
Well, that's just my opinion anyway... anyone is free to disagree and I
expect they will.