On “Exodus: Gods and Kings”

Exodus: Of Gods and Kings, out on December 12 in U.S. theaters tells the story of Moses (played by Christian Bale, left) rising up against the Egyptian pharaoh Rhamses (played by Joel Edgerton, right)

So we meet again,” says Moses to the Pharoah of Egypt, in Exodus:  Gods and Kings


I first reviewed E: G&K in my other blog. (E: G&K is the “2014 biblically-inspired actionadventure film directed by Ridley Scott.”  Stars included Christian BaleJohn TurturroSigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley, in a “loose interpretation of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt as led by Moses and related in the Book of Exodus.”  See Exodus: Gods and Kings – Wikipedia.)

So anyway, this shorter version of that earlier review has been “edited for content.”  As in:

The following … has been modified from its original version.  It has been formatted to fit this screen, to run in the time allotted and edited for content…

(Re-edited film.)  The original review is at On “Exodus: G&K,” but here are some highlights.  (From which I came up with a brand-new ending…)

To begin with it’s only natural to compare the 2014 film with Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments (1956 film) – Wikipedia.   Which brings up the anomaly – to some people anyway – that in the Ridley Scott version, God is portrayed by an 11-year-old boy:

If there’s anything daring in Scott and his screenwriters’ take on this oft-told tale …  it’s the decision to depict God, or his earthly iteration, as a bratty kid with an English accent.  As Moses struggles with issues of faith, madness, and spousal neglect … this pint-size Brit (Isaac Andrews) challenges Moses to rise to the occasion.  The lad warns the beleaguered Hebrew of the coming plagues, browbeats him, taunts him.  If you want a less portentous title for this big and curious cinematic endeavor, The Prophet and the Pip-squeak could work nicely. (E.A.)

See ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings‘: God as a bratty kid, and also Ridley Scott chooses 11-year-old boy as voice of God.  Which brings up the fact that the actual name of the character is Malak:  “Sacred texts give no specific depiction of God, so for centuries artists and filmmakers have had to choose their own visual depiction…   Malak [the “God character’] exudes innocence and purity, and those two qualities are extremely powerful.”  (See Ridley Scott chooses…)

And incidentally, Wikipedia defined Malak as “the Semitic word for ‘angel.’”  See also Strong’s Hebrew: 4397. מַלְאָך (malak).)

And that’s not to mention Angel of the Lord – Wikipedia, which included the image at left, “The Angel of the Lord appearing to Hagar in the wilderness.”  (“The biblical word for angel, מלאך malak, … translates simply as ‘messenger…'”)

So right from the start we have a controversy.  Aside from that, the film got lukewarm reviews like:  Very predictable, Historic mistake, and Ridley Scott made this movie out of contempt.  The third review said “has a personal grudge against all Christians.”

But as the Nathan Lane character said near the end of The Birdcage, “Not necessarily.”  (Which is being interpreted, “Not all reviewers feel that way…”)

To me the movie was well-paced, taut, and featured a compelling love story between Moses and his wife Zipporah.  And it showed the human price of becoming a Biblical icon: having to leave your wife and first-born son to “do your duty.”  Finally, the Moses played by Christian Bale was more human, more like us today and therefore more believable.

The film starts with Moses at the height of his military prowess.  He’s a proud, self-sufficient warrior with little or no patience for the reading of entrails (see Haruspex – Wikipedia) or other religious superstitions of the time.  But later on he “wrestles with the idea of God” after he finds out he’s actually the son of Hebrew slaves.  Then too this more-human Moses has his times of great doubt, and sometimes feels abandoned by God.  (Or at least that God isn’t there when he needs Him…)  The Moses in E: G&K is unlike what we’ve been led to expect because he is so full of pride and stubbornness and self-doubt, just like we “mere mortals” are today.

Another thing the movie got right was how Moses aged as a result of shouldering such great responsibility.  E: G&K ends with Moses riding in a wagon, with the Ark of the Covenant in the back.  (This was after the parting of the Red Sea and after he was re-united with his family, but before the 40 years of Wandering in the Wilderness that were coming up.)   Up to this point in the movie, Moses had appeared youthful and dark-haired.  But as the movie ends, Moses looks pretty much like the old guy portrayed in the painting, Victory O Lord!   (Shown below.)

Wikipedia said the painting “illustrates a passage in the Book of Exodus” – the Battle of Rephidim in chapter 17 – “which describes how Moses and his two companions watched the battle from the hill.”  (Briefly, when he was “watching the game” from a mountain-top, Moses saw that when he held his hands up, his team started winning.  But if he let his hands down, his team started losing…  See also the Intro to the DOR Scribe blog.)

Thus Moses had “aged” in way not unlike Jesus, as He was described in John 8:57, “‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ they said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!'”

That’s strange, because according to tradition, Jesus was 33 years old when He was crucified.  See Jesus year | Dictionary of Christianese.  And yet, like the Moses shown at the end of Exodus: Gods and Kings, Jesus at the end of His ministry seems to have aged greatly, “being a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, as well as of great gravity.”  (Biblehub, and specifically the Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible interpretation of John 8:57.)

Which is something like what happened to Abraham Lincoln after four years as president:

He arrived at the White House as a sinewy 6-foot-4, 180-pound strongman.  In the course of four years, he dropped 30 pounds.  “He was sunken-eyed and grizzled, nothing like that bright-eyed lawyer of Springfield [and] looks 75 years old, but he’s 56.”

Which leads to two final points.  First:  To the icons that we choose to throw our cares and responsibilities on – like Moses – we followers are pretty much a pain in the neck.

Second:  Exodus: Gods and Kings is a pretty good movie and well worth seeing, if only in the interest of broadening your horizons.




The upper image is courtesy of Ridley Scott chooses 11-year-old boy as voice of God in Moses movie.

The lower image is courtesy of Victory O Lord! – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re:  On “Exodus: G&K,” the movie.  Check out the “Part II” at On Exodus (Part II) and Transfiguration.  The latter review included “some things the movie left out:” 

For one thing, it didn’t mention Moses writing the first five books of the Bible, the Torah or Pentateuch.  For another thing, it left out the part about Moses’ father-in-law “inventing the Supreme Court.”  See On Jethro inventing the supreme court.  Third, the  movie left out Zipporah telling Moses, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!  That was in Exodus 4:25, one of the “more unusual, curious, and much-debated passages of the Pentateuch.”  See Zipporah at the inn – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re:  Abraham Lincoln “ageing” in office.   See The Age of Obama: Timelapse of President Barack Obama…  The site included a before-and-after set of pictures of Abraham Lincoln:

He arrived at the White House as a sinewy 6-foot-4, 180-pound strongman. In the course of four years, he dropped 30 pounds. “He was sunken-eyed and grizzled, nothing like that bright-eyed lawyer of Springfield,” said Von Drehle. Lincoln sat for a famous series of portraits, and “by the last set of photographs, he looks 75 years old, but he’s 56.”

David Von Drehle wrote “Rise to Greatness:  Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year.”

Re: Nathan Lane and The Birdcage – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaNathan Lane played Albert Goldman:  “Armand Goldman is the openly gay owner of a drag club in South Beach called The Birdcage and his partner Albert is ‘Starina’ the star attraction of the club and is a very effeminate and flamboyant man.”  See also: English Script for “The Birdcage” (03)_wallistian_新浪博客:

Val: Dad, couldn’t the Keeleys slip out without being noticed at the end of the show?

Armand: No, they’re waiting for that. They’d be recognized in two seconds.

Albert: Not necessarily.  

[That scene was summarized by Wikipedia as follows:]

As they attempt to leave they realize that the club is surrounded by photographers and they will not be able to leave without being seen.  Albert suggests going through the club’s dressing room and they dress Kevin in drag while Armand choreographs a dancing line through the exit and Kevin goes unnoticed.  Even to the point where his driver; who had earlier betrayed the Keeleys to the press, didn’t recognize him.

[Which led to the following exchange between the arch-conservative Senator – now dressed in “drag” – and his driver, who doesn’t recognize him:]

Kevin: Meet me in 20 minutes at the corner of EI Dorado and Palm.

The Driver: Lady, not for a million dollars.

See also Object lesson – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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