REVIEW: EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS

Image result for exodus steelbook

CAST

 Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises)
Maria Valverde (Cracks)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Ewen Bremner (Snatch)

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

 

In 1300 BC, Moses, a general and member of the royal family, prepares to attack the Hittite army with Prince Ramesses. A High Priestess of Sekhmet (the war goddess) divines a prophecy from animal intestines, which she relates to Ramesses’ father, Seti I. He tells the two men of the prophecy, in which one (of Moses and Ramesses) will save the other and become a leader. During the attack on the Hittites, Moses saves Ramesses’ life, leaving both men troubled. Later, Moses is sent to the city of Pithom to meet with the Viceroy Hegep, who oversees the Hebrew slaves. Upon his arrival, he encounters the slave Joshua, who is the descendant of Joseph, and Moses is appalled by the horrific conditions of the slaves. Shortly afterwards, Moses meets Nun, who informs him of his true lineage; he is the child of Hebrew parents who was sent by his sister Miriam to be raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses is stunned at the revelation and leaves angrily. However, two Hebrews also overhear Nun’s story and report their discovery to Hegep.
Seti dies soon after Moses’ return to Memphis, and Ramesses becomes the new Pharaoh (Ramesses II). Hegep arrives to reveal Moses’ true identity, but Ramesses is conflicted about whether to believe the story. At the urging of Queen Tuya, he interrogates the servant Miriam, who denies being Moses’ sister. When Ramesses threatens to cut off Miriam’s arm, Moses comes to her defense, revealing he is a Hebrew. Although Tuya wants Moses to be put to death, Ramesses decides to send him into exile. Before leaving Egypt, Moses meets with his adopted mother and Miriam, who refer to him by his birth name of Moishe. Following a journey into the desert, Moses comes to Midian where he meets Zipporah and her father, Jethro. Moses becomes a shepherd, marries Zipporah and has a son Gershom.
Nine years later, Moses gets injured during a rockslide. He comes face to face with a burning bush and a boy called Malak, who serves as a representative of the God of Abraham. While recovering, Moses confesses his past to Zipporah and reveals what God has asked him to do. This drives a wedge between the couple, because Zipporah fears he will leave their family. After he arrives in Egypt, Moses reunites with Nun and Joshua, as well as meeting his brother Aaron for the first time. Moses returns to confront Ramesses, demanding the Hebrews be released from servitude. Ramesses refuses to listen, insisting that to free the slaves would be economically impossible. Upon Moses threatening Ramesses’ life, Ramesses orders the death of Moses, executing random Hebrew families until he is found.
Using his military skills, Moses trains the slaves in the art of war. The Hebrews start attacking the Egyptians, prompting Ramesses to raid slave villages. Malak appears to Moses and explains that ten plagues will affect Egypt. All the water in the land turns to blood, and the Egyptians are further afflicted by the arrival of frogs, lice, and flies. The plagues of the death of livestock, boils, hail and thunder, locusts, and darkness continue to affect the Egyptians. While conversing with Malak, Moses is horrified at learning the tenth plague will be the death of all firstborn children. The Hebrews protect themselves by covering their doors with the blood of lambs, as instructed by Moses. Ramesses is devastated over his son’s death and relents, telling Moses and the Hebrews to leave.
During the exodus from Egypt, the Hebrews follow Moses’ original path through the desert and towards the Red Sea. Still grieving for his son, Ramesses decides to go after the Hebrews with his army. After making their way through a dangerous mountain pass, Moses and the Hebrews arrive at the edge of the sea, uncertain about what to do. Moses flings his sword into the water, which begins to recede. Ramesses and his army pursue the Hebrews, but Moses stays behind to confront them. The Red Sea reverts to its normal state, drowning the majority of the Egyptians (crossing the Red Sea). Moses survives and makes his way back to the Hebrews. Ramesses is revealed to have survived, but he is distraught over the destruction of his army. Moses leads the Hebrews back to Midian, where he reunites with Zipporah and Gershom. At Mount Sinai, after seeing Malak’s displeasure at the Hebrews’ construction of the Golden Calf, Moses transcribes the Ten Commandments. Years later, an elderly Moses riding with the Ark of the Covenant sees Malak walking with the Hebrews through the desert.
For those worried about the much-hyped portrayal of God as a young ‘brat’, I think this is in the most part a misunderstanding of what Scott was trying to do here. Yes, God is shown to ‘appear’ to Moses as a young child, but is it mere coincidence that the child is of roughly the same age as Moses’s son at the time? It can be argued that, in Scott’s depiction, God merely appears to Moses in a form he knows he will relate to. I think it also gives realism and a more human face to Moses that means we can relate to him – after all, it’s clear from the Biblical account that he has imperfections.
Exodus makes an interesting attempt to show his inner battles, frustrations and complexity of his relationship with God, those he grew up with and those he then leads. This includes the struggles of his family to accept God’s will for him (which is an interesting addition by Scott) and another interesting focus on Moses’s struggle to accept that God is in control and be humbled.

For me, Exodus harks back to the true Biblical epic in a way I’d not expected would be possible in this age. Unlike all the recent output and even going back to the Passion of the Christ, The Last Temptation… and others, there is no agenda here. It is a fair account done with impressive visual flair.

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