Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" Movie Review [SPOILER WARNING--they escape]



I recently watched Ridley Scott's movie "Exodus: Gods and Kings" starring Christian Bale as Moses.  My initial impression was perhaps a little naive.  There are so many things to love about the movie, the story about the brothers who become enemies (and yet somehow remain brothers), the role reversal of the Prince of Egypt turned Hebrew slave, etc.

But, like any Bible-Believer, I was curious how they would treat the text.  How would they make Moshe's character?  How would they treat the miracles?  Would there be any anti-supernatural bias?

The first thing out of the ordinary was the burning bush scene.

In the movie, Moshe goes up to Mount Horeb chasing after some misbehaving lambs when suddenly he's overtaken by a rock slide and knocked unconscious.  When he awakens, he's buried in mud up to his face.  We then expect to see a burning bush that talks.  But instead we see a burning bush and a talking nine-year-old boy which we quickly realize is a petulant, child-god.

Yet I was willing to give the movie the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps this was meant to be a "poetic" reinterpretation of the Exodus story, a kind of midrash if you will.

The next thing out of the ordinary was that movie-version Moshe leaves his family behind in Horeb even though the Biblical text indicates that he took them with him.

Well, that does alter his character a bit...

And then the plagues.  We don't see the cause of the plagues as being the hand of G-d but rather whimsical mother nature.  Alligators eat fishermen, turning the sea blood red, this causes frogs to escape to land which then leads to massive decomposition with lots of flies, etc, etc.

Even the crossing of the Red Sea in the movie could be the result of natural processes.  Something caused the waters to recede temporarily.  The Egyptian pursuers were simply unlucky enough to be crossing in the middle of the Red Sea when the water levels returned to normal.

They say hindsight is 20-20.  Well, after the movie I realized, "Hey, there was no staff that turned into a serpent!"  And wasn't that the sign in the Biblical text which was supposed to convince everyone that something supernatural was happening?

I guess there's two ways you can read the Exodus story.  Either it's a supernatural story of how the G-d of Israel delivers the Israelites from Egypt or it's the story of a deluded yet fearless leader fighting oppression.  In the case of Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ridley Scott takes the latter reading.

This isn't the Biblical story of Exodus but rather a humanist reinvention of it.


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