Ridley Scott to explore whether Moses was agnostic, etc.

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article on ‘Hollywood’s New Holy War’. The hook for the story is the three Bible movies coming out this year, but the story itself takes a broader look at how movie studios have been openly courting the Christian demographic ever since the surprise success of The Passion of the Christ ten years ago.

Sometimes, as the article notes, the studios’ efforts have been pretty successful (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Blind Side), and sometimes they have been… not so successful (The Nativity Story, Evan Almighty).

But what catches my eye is a sidebar on Ridley Scott’s life-of-Moses movie Exodus, which has a couple of new quotes from Scott and Christian Bale:
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Ridley Scott’s “unconventional depiction of God” in Exodus

Many blogs were quick to note The Hollywood Reporter’s story today on the making of Noah. Few if any, however, noted a sidebar to the Reporter story which gave a nod to the other two Bible movies coming out this year, i.e. Son of God and Ridley Scott’s Exodus.

The sidebar doesn’t offer much new info about either of those films, but it does include this bit about Exodus: “Details are scarce, but sources tell THR that Scott, an avowed agnostic, has chosen an unconventional depiction of God in the film. If so, it faces the same challenge in wooing religious audiences as Noah does.”

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Bale charges into battle as Moses in new Exodus pic

When Ridley Scott’s life-of-Moses movie Exodus was first announced five years ago — long before Scott himself became involved with the movie — it was pitched as a “visually stunning action piece” that would owe as much to films like 300 and Braveheart as it did to any of the more conventional versions of this story.

So far, though, there has been a lack of action in the pictures we have seen from this film. All of the unauthorized pictures have shown Moses (played by Christian Bale) and others standing on the set, and the one authorized picture released a few weeks ago showed him sitting on a horse.

That changes now with Entertainment Weekly’s 2014 preview, which the Christian Bale fansite Baleheads Blog has scanned and posted for our benefit:

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Our first official look at Christian Bale as Moses in Exodus

Two months ago, we saw some pictures of Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramesses on the set of Ridley Scott’s Exodus — but those were basically paparazzi shots, unauthorized by the studio. Today, however, we have our first officially-sanctioned picture of Bale as Moses, courtesy of Empire magazine — and, like the earlier pictures which showed Moses holding a bow and arrow, the new picture is slightly unusual in that it shows Moses sitting on a horse, which I can’t recall seeing him do in any other film before. (He usually walks or, in his prince-of-Egypt days, drives a chariot.) You almost wonder if Scott is subconsciously turning this into another Robin Hood movie. Anyhoo. Click on the picture above to see a bigger version of it.

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Bible epics are back on the silver screen

BIBLE EPICS are back, and coming soon to a theatre near you.

The genre – which was very popular in the silent era and then, again, during the post-war boom of the 1950s and early 1960s – never went away entirely. Low-budget films like The Last Temptation of Christ and The Passion of the Christ have offered radically different, even opposite, interpretations of the life and death of Jesus. And there has been a steady stream of Bible films on television going back to at least the 1970s.

But when Paramount Pictures releases Noah – starring Russell Crowe and rumoured to have cost over $125 million – in March, it will mark the first time that a big-budget live-action Bible epic has been made for the big screen since Richard Gere starred in King David back in 1985. (The Prince of Egypt, released in 1998, was also a major Hollywood production, but it was an animated film, and so arguably doesn’t quite belong in the same category.)

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From fighting the Crusaders to advising the Pharaohs

Here’s another bit of casting news for Ridley Scott’s Exodus — and one that doesn’t seem to be reflected on the movie’s IMDb page yet.

The Syria Times reports that Ghassan Massoud, who previously played Saladin in Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005), has just finished playing one of the Pharaohs’ advisers in Scott’s life-of-Moses movie. This is how the Times describes his character:

Sometimes, he is silent, satisfied with watching everything in an observer’s eye, and other times he talks and gives Ramses advices when necessary. His silence is wanted to be as effective as his talk.

The Pharaohs in the film are Ramses, played by Joel Edgerton, and his father Seti, played by John Turturro. Also, the older Pharaoh’s wife is being played by Sigourney Weaver, while his daughter Bithiah is being played by Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass. As you can see, the casting on this film has been ethnically… eclectic.

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