Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” which brings the story of Moses (Christian Bale) to the big screen, isn’t as much of a revisionist tale as Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”—but, its tone and cumulative impact aren’t cinematically or thematically satisfying, because of its sterile spirituality and cold depiction of God’s “vengefulness” in the Old Testament.
If you grew up discussing the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Elijah and Moses, you know about the “fire-and-brimstone” tragedies that befell those who didn’t heed God’s warnings.
It is this heavy pall of doom-and-gloom that looms large in the movie, which is far removed from the merciful love and salvation that are supposed to await the faithful—and it doesn’t help that the production’s 3D incarnation is as dark and dismal as Scott’s treatment of the story!
The movie is a visual spectacle that entertains as a sweeping biblical tale about an Egyptian prince who finds out about his real identity—as a messianic deliverer among Hebrew slaves! As he begins to talk to God, who makes His presence felt either as a burning bush or an ill-tempered boy, Moses finds himself transformed into a prophet and religious leader responsible for the emancipation of 400,000 Hebrew slaves from the clutches of the tyrannical pharaoh, Ramses (Joel Edgerton).
With Moses leading their exodus to freedom, the group’s arduous journey across the Red Sea leads to the 10 Commandments and the consolidation of the Hebrew tribes in Canaan but, not before the plagues that God inflicted upon the Egyptians to persuade Ramses to release his Israeli slaves—frogs, locusts, lice, boils, hailstorms, the death of firstborns, etc.! Such cruelty and violence!
While most people find peace and spiritual focus in the gods they pray to, Scott is said to be an agnostic who, in an interview with Esquire magazine, once called religion “the biggest source of evil and everyone is tearing each other apart in the name of their personal god”, and it shows in his treatment of Moses’ story and relationship with God.
If you’re an inveterate sinner who thinks you can’t be held accountable for your actions, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” has a cautionary message for you!