Ridley Scott isn’t the first filmmaker to tackle the story of Moses, and he certainly won’t be the last. There’s drama in the prophet’s confrontations with the rulers of Egypt, there’s spectacle in the miracles he performed to liberate his people, and there are lessons to be learned from the way he led the Israelites and forged them into a nation, not least by giving them the Law. And filmmakers have been turning to Moses’ story for inspiration since pretty much the dawn of cinema.
Moses at the Movies / When we trace more than a century of movies about the Exodus, what do we learn?
THEY’VE BEEN making films about Moses since at least 1907, when the Pathé studio in France released Moses et l’Exode de l’Egypte. The Vitagraph company in America followed suit with J. Stuart Blackton’s five-part The Life of Moses, released between 1909 and 1910. Moses has popped up in movies ever since, from the all-black cast of The Green Pastures (1936), starring Rex Ingram as ‘de Lawd,’ to Mel Brooks’ randy satire History of the World Part I (1981).