by Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online
To no one’s surprise, Horrible Hollywood got the Bible wrong again with its latest attempt at bringing a scriptural story to the big screen: this time with Exodus: Gods and Kings staring Christian Bale. While the movie itself is more enjoyable then it’s predecessor Noah, it will still leave a sour after-taste for Christians and Jews who view it.
Most religious viewers will allow for adaptations of a story for time. No one wants to sit for a 40-hour film covering a Biblical hero of the old testament. But the choices of Ridley Scott and the other guy who directed Noah who no-one has ever heard of (Darren Aronofsky) go beyond the pale, adding items to the story that aren’t there, and leaving out pieces of the Biblical story that are critical to the tale.
In Noah, we were assaulted by the interpretation of Noah as a raving lunatic that plotted to kill his family on the ark so that the world would be free of the stain of humanity, allowing the animals to continue on their own.
In Exodus, the most recognizable and important hero of the old testament is almost unrecognizable from that which was depicted in scripture. Instead of a prophet armed with a staff and the power of the Most High God, Moses, the bringer of the law, is an insurgent who terrorizes Egypt. The story downplays the power of God, reducing the figure of God to the image of a small boy, whom Moses frequently argues with. Indeed, Moses is defiant against God many times in the movie, frequently yelling down at the diminutive character of God.
I’m sorry, but any depiction of God as a petulant little child rather than the all-powerful, all-knowing spirit he is, is simply herestical and it’s stupid. Even mere angels when they appear in scriptures are awe-inspiring and fear invoking. In the Bible, when Moses is on the mountain awaiting the Ten Commandments, he asks God if he can see his face. God chastises Moses, saying that to do so, even to look on the person of God would mean certain destruction. Instead, He places Moses in the cleft of a mountain and passes by, allowing Moses to see the back of God.
In this flick, God isn’t awe-inspiring at all. He’s merely irritating and we get the sense that God might just be a figment of Moses’s imagination. Indeed, Moses is struck on the head by a rock climbing Mount Ararat and in his altered consciousness following his injury he starts seeing “God” for the first time.
The story gets it wrong in other areas as well. The so-called miracles or plagues are easily explained away as natural phenomena, Pharaoh is much more of a sympathetic character than even Moses is, and the rest of the miracles of the story, even the crossing of the Dead Sea, are down played.
If you are looking for a distraction and don’t care about the Biblical story as written, Exodus is a pretty good holiday flick. It’s acted well enough and the special affects and cinematography are good, better even than the hookier Ten Commandments of yesteryear from Cecil B. DeMille and staring Charlton Heston. But in DeMille’s classic, we get a respect for the historicity of the Bible story and the acting is far superior. It’s so good that we are willing to look past the less believable special affects of the 1950s.
I doubt that Christians and Jews who see this film are going to overlook the damage that this Hollywood installment takes on the character of the most recognizable and best loved characters of the Bible, Moses the Liberator.
To add injury to insult, characters in the movie directly insult the Jews, a slap in the face of modern Jews of today. When confronted with the knowledge that he is Hebrew, Moses reacts with disbelief. “I thought you Hebrews were better story tellers than that. It isn’t a very good story!” It feels like Christian Bale is mocking the very story that he is staring in. Sheesh!
In another scene, an Egyptian governor overseeing the great quarries of Egypt again insults the Jewish laborers he’s charged with. When Moses wants to visit them to see if they are really planning insurrection, the governor emphatically states, “you can’t believe them. They conniving and dishonest.” Again, while this could be more subtle and plays into the storyline a little better than the other incidence, it still feels like a veiled insult to modern Jews and to the Nation of Israel.
While I wasn’t quite as put off by this film as I was with Noah, I have to admit it was better than Noah. For the reasons I’ve mentioned, and others, Exodus will remain in the category of a good film, but will never be a great film.