Friday, 2 January 2015

Film Review: "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (2014).

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Ridley Scott called religion "the biggest source of evil", explaining, "Everyone is tearing each other apart in the name of their personal god. And the irony is, by definition, they're probably worshiping the same god". This is what he once agains explores in this Summers epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. This biblical epic film directed by Scott, written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian. It is an interpretation of the Book of Exodus win which the defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

The film stars Christian Bale as Moses, Joel Edgerton as Ramses II, John Turturro as Seti I, Aaron Paul as Joshua, Sigourney Weaver as Queen Tuya, and Ben Kingsley as Nun. The cast gave terrific performances despite being not exactly perfectly cast for their respective roles. Bale, especially, was phenomenal and so far removed from anything. He has once again shown us the true complexities of his talent.

It is very evident in regards to the controversy surrounding this film. But to those who are not as familiar or unaware, director Ridley Scott has been accused of racism for casting only caucasians. David Denis Jr., a reporter, said in an article "Not only are all the main characters white, but the servants, thieves, assassins are played by Africans... This is cinematic colonialism... this movie is racist as s***!" Four white actors were cast to play the lead roles (Hebrew and ancient Egyptian characters): Bale as Moses, Edgerton as Ramses II, Weaver as Queen Tuya, and Aaron Paul as Joshua. However, Scott answered these accusations by saying the following in an interview with Variety: "I can't mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain... and that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such... I'm just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn't even come up". Edgerton contributed by saying "[It's] not my job to make those decisions... I got asked to do a job and it would have been very hard to say no to that job. I do say that I am sensitive to it and I do, I do emphathise with that position". Christian Today reported that an online petition was under way. It also compared Exodus to the 1956 film The Ten Commandments with its all-white cast and said, "The racial climate, number of black actors, and opportunities provided to them were very different in 1956, however."

Exodus: Gods and Kings is profoundly relevant for our troubled times. an extraordinary work of art, a plea for religious tolerance that works because of sheer filmmaking prowess and good, old-fashioned storytelling. However, it is considerably more ambitious and significantly less satisfying than Gladiator (2000).

Simon says Exodus: Gods and Kings receives:

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