“Exodus: Gods and Kings” Biblical History or Entertainment?

20th Century Fox Original Movie Poster-Exodus: Gods and Kings

20th Century Fox Original Movie Poster-Exodus: Gods and Kings

Last week I watched Sir Ridley Scott’s new movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings. A cast led by Christian Bale and Ben Kingsley, epic cinematography, a sure formula for success. Right?

 

Colossal statues at Abu Simbel 1

Colossal Ramses Statues 20th Century Fox – Exodus Gods and Kings

 Colossal statues of Abu Simbel by torchlight in their original glory, detailed sets of Pharaoh’s palace, and intriguing portrayals of pyramid-building made my inner archaeologist turn cartwheels.

 

Several character-driven scenes establish the conflict as sibling rivalry (Moses and Ramses) which deepens to a war of of cultures when both men learn Moses was born of the slave cast.

 

Moses and Zipporah.  20th Century Fox - Exodus: Gods and Kings

Moses and Zipporah. 20th Century Fox – Exodus: Gods and Kings

So far so good. Then Moses—exiled and married to a Midianite—attempts to retrieve three sheep from what his wife refers to as the Mountain of God. He stumbles and is partially buried in a rockslide. When the burning bush appears, Moses is lying in the rubble with a broken leg. No voice admonished Moses to remove his sandals while standing on holy ground (perhaps because Scott had Bale lying flat on his back?). Instead, a boy with a British accent cryptically encourages Moses to help his people. Meh.

 

bow training EntertainmentWeekly

Moses showing Hebrews low-intensity-warfare Entertainment Weekly

Back in Pi-Ramses, a most-unhumble Moses returns to train Hebrew men the skill of low-intensity warfare—attacking high value targets and quickly withdrawing. This turn of events surprised me, but I can’t say it’s impossible, given that human nature first strives to solve our problems without supernatural assistance. I’m still pondering that one.

 

Plague of Hail.  20th Century Fox Exodus: Gods and Kings

Plague of Hail. 20th Century Fox Exodus: Gods and Kings

And then the first plague begins. Instead of Aaron jabbing his staff into the Nile and turning the waters to blood, a cadre of giant crocodiles kills several fishermen and animals, enough to turn the entire Nile and all the canals red with blood. In fact, Aaron was largely absent the entire movie. Odd, given that he was the designated spokesman for a stuttering Moses.

After the brutal ‘crocodile’ plague, the rest follow, each shown as a natural consequence of the previous . . . except the Passover. In the evening, a dense dark shadow steals across the city, swallowing up the light one street at a time and stealing the breath of each firstborn who did not have the blood of the Passover lamb in the door. It had the kind of supernatural shock and awe that gives me the shivers.

 

pharaoh chariots

Near the end of the movie, hemmed in between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, Moses despairs of leading the Hebrews to freedom. Frustrated, he throws his gold Egyptian sword into the water. Immediately, the entire sea retracts southward until completely out of sight … huh? Even Disney’s Prince of Egypt got that part right. Are we to believe the sword was imbued with magical Egyptian power?

At the conclusion, the Hebrews were depressed, not joyous as depicted in Miriam’s song, even after the Pharaoh’s demise. And speaking of Ramses … I don’t have enough space here to explain all my objections to Ramses being depicted as the Pharaoh of the exodus. An excellent analysis of the Exodus within the historical context is postulated in the Associates for Biblical Research by Dr. Bryant Wood http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2006/09/Debunking-The-Exodus-Decoded.aspx. The site contains many other valuable resources about the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan.

Bible and Spade Magazine

Bible and Spade Magazine

 

I can enjoy a Biblical movie even if it omits minor details due to production time constraints, but to turn the actual events on their heads and remove the Lord from the equation is another story. I struggled with my final opinion of the movie, due to the well-researched historical settings, but in the end, I remembered John Calvin, who said, “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

If you’ve seen Exodus: Gods and Kings, what did you like/not like about it? Do you think it’s permissible for movie adaptations to take creative license with the Bible?.

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11 thoughts on ““Exodus: Gods and Kings” Biblical History or Entertainment?

  1. As long as producers advertise the movie as a creative adaptation, I’m okay in going to see the movie and expecting pure fiction.

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  2. The original DeMille movie also played fast and loose with the details. Heston’s Moses was self-assured and a powerful speaker, unlike the real Moses. Moses wife was very white in the movie as well. At least the original Heston movie didn’t remove the name of God from the story.

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  3. I didn’t watch Exodus but noticed a friend stated on Facebook that she couldn’t stomach it due to the Biblical inaccuracies.

    I’m never happy when a movie version differs from the book. But I think I’d find it particularly troubling when the “book” was the Bible. Linda does have a point that how the movie is advertised does make a difference. Still, I have to wonder WHY the changes and can’t help but feel that disbelief in the inerrancy of the BIBLE played a role in the changes.

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    • That’s true, Beth. And during my research for this article, i found many mentions of Scott being an atheist.
      I did enjoy Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion. Gibson said that the scene of the soldier pounding in the nails was made using his hands because he thought that he and all of humanity was responsible.

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  4. I haven’t been interested in this or the other “loose” adaptations out lately. The changes in The Bible series I could understand – at least I felt like they respected the Bible and only changed/condensed for the sake of the medium. These other adaptations don’t respect God or the Bible and I figure rather than take the “at least they are trying so we should support it” approach, I’d rather take the “they won’t be motivated to respect the truth if their adaptations pay off” so I can’t financially support these endeavors.

    It’s kind of like the recent Narnia movies. The first one was so perfect – I nearly cry watching it every time. And then Prince Caspian plays so loosely with the story – adding entire chunks of new material and deleting half the book. No wonder it didn’t do well! And then the 3rd one came out, just as badly adapted if not worse and they wonder why it flopped? le sigh

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    • I came to the same conclysion as you. At least i didnt pay at the theatre [full price]. Will may watch them on netflix for the depictions of the historical period, but i cannot recommend them

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  5. I appreciate the review because it doesn’t make me want to see the movie. Like any good story, you hope the film version will bring the story to life, not morph it into something different. That goes with biblical stories as well as most-loved books.

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