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?
Exodus: Gods and Kings has a rating, a running time, and a new video of Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton
Of the 21 films that Ridley Scott directed prior to making Exodus: Gods and Kings, fully two-thirds were rated R. This includes the historical epics Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, but it does not include the historical epics 1492: Conquest of Paradise or Robin Hood.
So I’ve been wondering what rating Exodus would get from the MPAA when all was said and done. And now we know: it is rated PG-13 for “violence including battle sequences and intense images”.
I guess the makers of Exodus couldn’t let the new trailers for Noah get all the Bible-epic attention this week. Christian Bale, currently promoting the crime thriller Out of the Furnace, gave an interview to Hitfix recently in which he let slip a comment or two about Exodus, the currently-shooting Ridley Scott film in which Bale is playing Moses:
“It’s an intriguing piece, because it’s very few people that I’ve met that have actually read the Torah, the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, all the way through,” Bale said. “Most people read snippets. If you read it all the way through, it’s harsh. It’s really ‘Old Testament.’ And violence in the extreme. He was not a man of any half measures whatsoever.”
Towards the end of the just-published article, Bale adds: “There’s a lot of shocking stuff about it.” And by “it”, he seems to be referring not just to the books of Moses, but to the film that is currently being fashioned out of those books.
Ridley Scott first revealed that he was making a life-of-Moses movie while promoting Prometheus last year. I’d been hoping that he would spill even more details about the film, now called Exodus, while promoting his latest film, The Counselor, but alas, that film didn’t get much of a promotional push (and it ended up having one of the worst opening weekends of Scott’s career).
A few tidbits about Exodus have trickled out, however. First, Scott told The New York Times: “I’m an atheist, which is actually good, because I’ve got to convince myself the story works.” And then, he told Empire magazine the film will be “fucking huge.”
Suffice it to say, this is not how Bible epics have generally been promoted in the past.
It’s already a record-setting TV series and a record-setting DVD release. Now The Bible is headed for theatres… or some similar public venue. Deadline reports that producer Mark Burnett made the announcement tonight while promoting one of his “reality TV” shows.
The series, which condensed the entire Bible down to about seven hours (or ten, once you add commercials), has reportedly been re-cut into a three-hour movie. Burnett has not yet decided whether to distribute the movie himself or to accept one of the “many offers” he has received from potential distributors, but he’s currently looking at releasing it in the fall — possibly in theatres, but also possibly in arenas.
Moses is revered by three major world religions as a hero of the faith, a prophet, and a lawgiver. He is also a thriving part of popular culture. When the National Rifle Association recently elected Charlton Heston, who is best known for his portrayal of Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, as its new president, the NRA’s vice president said that it was “a way of saying, ‘Hey, Moses is on our side.'” And when Jeffrey Katzenberg, cofounder of the DreamWorks studio, wanted to show that his animation team could compete with Disney, he produced The Prince of Egypt, the first major film about Moses in more than 40 years.