Movie review: Exodus-Gods and Kings
The newest Biblically based Hollywood movie to come to the silver screen is the account of Moses, who led the children of Israel out of the 400 year bondage to Egypt and its Pharaohs to freedom. Some of the other critics have lambasted director, Ridley Scott, for failing to have Jewish or Egyptian actors play these parts; but he has had his come-back, so to speak, by replying that Egypt would have been a very multi-national cosmopolitan country at that time. Other critics writing about this movie have declared that they wouldn’t “pay to see the movie.” Hmmm. Then how were they able to critique the movie?
This writer did pay to see the movie on the big screen and it was a bit disappointing that the writers did not remain faithful to the Scriptural accounts of this particular event. For example, the Scriptures make the account in which God turned the Nile into blood; however the writers depicted this event utilizing monster-sized crocodiles that attack an Egyptian boat, thus killing all of the inhabitants, and so their blood contaminates the Nile. Though the writers show about 5-6 men being graphically torn apart, realistically, their bodies do not contain enough blood to contaminate the entire Nile River, nor even just the area where the Pharaoh is living either. Then we must deal with the idea that these crocodiles are the writer’s fantasy, because there was no such plague. Regarding the plague of blood, the writer has attempted to normalize and reduce the enormity of it as well as give a natural cause for its existence, thus highlighting the writer’s own faithlessness in an awesome and totally all-consuming God, better known as the Great I am.
However, the cinematic rendering of the other plagues, was very well done. This writer especially liked the plague of darkness and then the final plague in which every firstborn child died, if they had not been covered by the blood of the lamb. It was shown as being a great shadow that fell over the land and as it passed over the houses, the first-born children simply stopped breathing. The 1957 version depicted it as a green phantasm in the shape of a bony hand of death.
Then there is a particular character that shows up in this movie, i.e. is it God? is it Jesus? or perhaps a messenger angel? The writer failed egregiously with this, in that, if this is the Great I Am, why the image of a child? If this is supposed to be a pre-incarnate Jesus, with the hinting around of Isaiah 11:6 “….and a little child shall lead them,” then we have some major issues that abound here, especially, since Moses lived thousands of years before Isaiah prophesied about the child. It leaves the viewer totally confused and even more so when Moses blatantly tells this ‘child’ he didn’t want to deal with a messenger.
The Scriptures also do not recount that Moses tried to carry out the overthrow of the Pharaoh with his own methods; with the (God) child finally telling him, almost as if he was about to say, ‘tsk, tsk, tsk…okay….just stand back and watch this!’ Seriously? This whole scene fell flat.
The writer has also attempted to downplay other major events contained within the whole scope of the story, such as: very little coverage concerning the making of the golden calf; or the reception of the stone tablets with God’s very own laws thusly written upon them; Miriam is left back in Egypt when clearly she sang and danced with her timbrels when Pharaoh’s chariots were cast into the sea.
Finally, other critics have mentioned that the Red Sea crossing was done all wrong. It was if you were expecting another Cecil B. DeMille rendition. Let’s face it shall we? Charlton Heston raising his arms along with his special staff over the waters and the wind picking up and dividing the sea with the very breath of God is one movie scene that would be hard to outdo. But here is the point that this writer would like to make; is there anyone living or ever lived that wrote down the exact way in which God divided the waters? We know the answer to that one, don’t we? Since this writer attended seminary, and has entertained many schools of religious streams of thought; it would appear that what the writer was attempting to do was to lay the groundwork for a liberal theologian’s ideas, in which Moses really crossed the Red Sea at a point where the deepest part was approximately ten inches. But here is the biblically conservative come-back to that idea: how did Pharaoh’s army drown in ten inches of water? So the writer has attempted to give credence to the idea that the children of Israel crossed in shallow water; however, this idea totally leaves God out of the picture. Plus, as they are crossing the Red Sea, the writer attempts to blend in the traditional view and pretty soon they are crossing on almost dry land. The cinematography of the water sweeping back, plus the giant waterspouts forming, which presumably has been the force to draw the water back, still has an incredible realism that doesn’t displease the viewer.
Overall, it still rates 4/5 stars from this critic, even with the writer not remaining faithful to the Scriptures. This writer definitely says: Go see it for yourself. It is good that Hollywood has finally decided to make Biblically based movies at long last. This writer has heard many complaints about the fact that there is nothing ‘decent’ to see at the movie houses, and this writer has made plenty of complaints also. Should Christians just not rather rejoice that at the very least, we are being given movies to see and enjoy? Plus, opportunities to speak the truth about the real Scriptural events and how our God deserves all the glory is laid out like a red carpet before us.