Ridley Scotts’ EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS remain for me a very intriguing movie, and regardless of the number of times I have seen it, I could never get enough of it. The fact that it’s on desktop on my laptop means that each time I want to see a movie on my laptop, I am tempted to want to play it, so much so that it is on default on my VLC player, such that once a movie I was seeing ends, it simply starts playing “Exodus: Gods And Kings”.
I was surprised to find that I hadn’t written about this earlier, though it appears I may have alluded to some parts of the movie in some other writings of mine. I truly had to double check to be sure, because of the way the movie resonated with me from the first time I saw it, and the several times I went on to see it afterwards. Before Ridley Scott’s 2014 offering of the Moses’ story, I loved to a fault Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956
THE TEN COMMANDMENT, and I still saw a bit of it earlier this year online. Another, MOSES made in
1995 was so below par for me as it looked so very strictly budgeted, that the Red Sea scene couldn’t even better, talk more see an improvement in the marvel that was on show in the 1956 offering by DeMille.
Because of the very unimpressive offering by the 1995 Moses, I will not pay much attention to it, though I must not fail to add that unlike the other two aforementioned, it devoted some time to what happened while the Hebrews were in the wilderness, beyond the mere receiving of the tablets on which was written the Ten Commandments by Moses on Mount Sinai, and the subsequent smashing of same (the tablets of stone) on the Golden Calf, that was better dramatized in DeMille’s offering but not much beyond that, and totally omitted by Ridley Scott in his offering.
While the 1995 Moses’ movie tried as much as it could to render as much as possible something close to the biblical version (and ended up rather dull) of the Moses’ story, the others appeared to allow some modifications. DeMille pandering to some romantic Moses in the spirit of Hollywood at the time to spice up the story, and Ridley Scott’s attempt to douse the ridiculously superfluous, in order to make the Moses’ tale slightly more believable, in a world where more and more people are giving up religion, especially the Judeo-Christian path for atheism by the day, clearly portraying a lack of interest in the extremely extraordinary to much critical acclaim, depending on the part of the fence you are sitting on.
In trying to play down on myth unlike with Cecil B. DeMille where the turning of the River in Egypt to blood was by virtue of Moses hitting the water with his staff, Ridley Scott scored very highly with “rationalists”, especially in allowing an adviser to Pharaoh to chronicle the (scientific) basis of the Ten Plagues, of which the most laughable was how the Nile got bloodied by rampaging man-eating crocodiles, making me wonder how many crocodiles could be involved in such a vocation as man-eating at the same time, or the number of victims that could possibly be involved to make the Nile red, consistently for a period running into weeks for instance.
It appears that they might have considered other options that they found to be even more ridiculous to have eventually settle on the crocs narrative, afterwards the reasons given for the other plagues (the frogs leaving the aquatic habitat for the terrestrial because the water was contaminated with blood, died later and fed on by maggots, which became flies or fleas, and so on) were more plausible, and easier to defend till more plagues came up and it became difficult to cook up theories to assuage the Pharaoh, who then had his adviser (on natural disasters?) hanged, for not coming up with sensible reasons as to why the plagues. The same fate seemed to befall the priestess who was at every stage of the plagues supposed to proffer solutions, mainly by making sacrifices to appease the Egyptian Gods, though when Pharaoh hit his staff twice on the marble floor (what seemed an indication that the offender be hanged), the face of the person that was thereafter hanged wasn’t quite clear (like the movie makers weren’t much into the killing of women, which is interesting because scenes back, a Hebrew family that included a girl had been hung because the Hebrews failed to give up Moses, after he had arrived back from exile to dwell amongst “his” people) but that definitely was the last time the priestess was seen in the movie.
“The Ten Commandments” also differed from “Exodus: Gods And Kings” with the snake scene where the snake that was Moses’ stick swallowed those of Pharaohs’ magicians, which the latter opted not to screen again in what I believe is in furtherance of Scott’s desire to avoid controversial and objectionable (by sceptics) parts of the story of Moses, as rendered by the Bible. Of course, you would have guessed that there would also not be the turning of Moses’ arm to be leprous in putting his arm into his armpit in Ridley Scott’s offering, which was quite graphic in the 1995 Moses’ movie.
The matter of whom Moses got his message from is also an issue that is worth considering. In “The Ten Commandments” and “Moses” it was from the God of the Hebrews whose name is “I AM”, speaking with an echo as with the voice of James Earl Jones from nowhere. The makers of “Exodus: Gods And Kings” elected to differ, creating the role of of a MESSENGER or “malak”
played by a boy only Moses could see (Moses’ aide many times saw Moses talking to himself, even when viewers could see that he was talking with the Malak), arousing in the minds of a few people I have spoken with, and some articles to which my attention had been drawn to in recent times, either seriously or Jocularly (like the Egyptian wanting to sue Israel for the damage done to Egypt when the Hebrews left for the PROMISED LAND) that the movie made Moses out like a Schizophrenic, much like Ryan Reynolds in “THE VOICES” movie.
The scene between Moses and the Malak (played by 11-year old Isaac Andrews) in which the former queried the very bloody nature of the campaign to make Pharaoh free the Hebrews, and the Malak’s very STRONG response (impressive for his size) has become for me the best of scenes in movies I have seen for all time. The Red Sea scene too was not so over the top, though the special effects appeared reasonable enough to make sceptics (who would fall over their seat with laughter at the incredulous over the same scene in The Ten Commandments) let this pass. Also, in line with what appears to be the adopted point of view, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night in DeMille’s offering was shunned by Scott, who introduced in its stead a tortuous path difficult to navigate by chariots, as a means to delay Pharaoh’s army till the Hebrews had safely walked the Red Sea on “dry” ground to the other side.
I could go on and on to list interesting aspects of the movies done about Moses, especially the latest one, as the scenes play themselves over in my mind, but I’d rather stop here before I start bringing up irrelevants, that’ll totally stab you with boredom. The story of Moses is a unique one, even to those who don’t practice the religions associated with it, hence I am sure that some producer and/or director will once again try his/her hands at delivering another offering in the nearest future. I can only hope to be there when such a time comes. For now “Exodus: Gods And Kings” by Ridley Scott, which started with Moses as a grown man and General in the Egyptian army, unlike the two before it which featured the pre-birth of Moses era to the time he was born, then beyond (dedicated to the memory of his brother, Tony who committed suicide in 2012), surely ranks higher in my estimation, over other works retelling and reenacting the story of Moses, for now.