Ridley Scott’s Moses movie not quite done filming yet

Ridley Scott started shooting his Moses movie Exodus: Gods and Kings nine months ago, and there was so much buzz about the film earlier this year — from the first official pictures released around New Year’s Day to the coverage it got in the foreign press in March — that I’d kind of assumed that he had finished shooting it by now, and that all he had to worry about, between now and the film’s release in December, was the editing, the visual effects (the 3D parting of the Red Sea, etc.), the music and so on.

But apparently the cameras are still rolling. An article posted yesterday at Albawabh News, an Egyptian website, claims that Scott will finish shooting some scenes in and around the temples of Aswan “next Sunday” — at least as translated by Google.

This wouldn’t necessarily have to be principal photography; this could be re-shoots, or second-unit footage, or something of that sort. (The bulk of the film’s exteriors, including the picture above, were shot in Spain months ago.) It’s possible that Scott might not even be there in person. Either way, the basic point remains: they’re still filming this movie — though presumably they’re almost done now.

The fact that part of Exodus is being shot in Egypt does not guarantee that the film will be released there when all is said and done. Moses is considered a prophet within Islam, and many Muslims believe the prophets should never be depicted visually — thus the efforts of Egyptian activists, some more successful than others, to get films like Youssef Chahine’s The Emigrant and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah banned.

There is even a precedent for a film about Moses getting permission to shoot in Egypt, only to be banned from the country once the movie was finished.

Cecil B. DeMille filmed part of The Ten Commandments there in 1954, and reportedly got permission to do so because then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser was a big fan of DeMille’s earlier film The Crusades and its positive portrayal of Saladin.

However, when The Ten Commandments was finished a couple years later (just a few months after the Suez Crisis took place), Nasser ended up banning the film from Egyptian theatres because he felt it favoured “the Jews over the Egyptians.”

As it happens, Ridley Scott has made his own movie about the Crusades, i.e. Kingdom of Heaven, and the actor who played Saladin in his film is playing an advisor to the Pharaohs in Exodus. Did that help Sir Ridley get his Egyptian permit?

Sir Ridley is also planning to direct a TV show which posits that the ancient Egyptian civilization was built with the help of aliens. One wonders whether his contacts in Egypt will allow him to shoot scenes for that project, too.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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