A brief comment on the Exodus: Gods and Kings casting controversy

exodus-yahoo-3Three months ago, Ridley Scott noted that the actors he hired for Exodus: Gods and Kings represent a range of different ethnicities, and hardly anyone noticed. Last week, he made an off-the-cuff remark about how he couldn’t cast some obscure Middle Eastern actor as the lead in a massively expensive movie such as this, and the internet went berserk.

Scott’s comment was quickly assumed by many people to mean that he was justifying hiring an “all-white” cast. Many people claimed, dubiously, that it would be more historically accurate if the villainous Egyptian slave masters, many of whom are killed by an act of God at the Red Sea, were played by black actors instead. (Just think what sort of controversies there would be if the film had gone that route.)

Jonathan Merritt even went so far as to say today that no Bible movie — not even The Nativity Story, which cast a Maori girl as the Virgin Mary, a Palestinian as her mother and Iranians as her father and cousin Elizabeth — has made any progress when it comes to casting ethnically-appropriate actors. Apparently the fact that Keisha Castle-Hughes was born in Australia disqualifies that film somehow. Seriously?

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Exodus: Gods and Kings: early reviews are a mixed bunch

exodus-ramses-09With the film set to open in South Korea, Spain, Australia and a few other countries this week, the first reviews of Exodus: Gods and Kings went online today — and they’re a mixed bag, as reviews of Ridley Scott films are wont to be.

One of the recurring themes in these reviews is that the film offers a lot of spectacle but not as much character development as it should — which leads one to wonder if an even longer, better “director’s cut” awaits us, à la Kingdom of Heaven.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings: new interviews and behind the scenes footage in the electronic press kit

vlcsnap-2014-11-26-12h41m27s105The electronic press kit for Exodus: Gods and Kings is here, and with it, some new behind-the-scenes footage that hints at things we have not yet seen in any of the ads or clips released so far. It also has lots of soundbites from key cast and crew members. Check it out below the jump.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings interview round-up (with photos and video): Christian Bale on Moses’ “sadistic” side and making Moses accessible for believers and skeptics alike

exodus-empire-dec1Time to round up some Exodus: Gods and Kings interviews.

First, Entertainment Tonight has a few brief soundbites from Christian Bale, in which, among other things, he makes the first public comments I have heard him make on the controversy over the casting of Caucasians in the key roles.

ET also has some behind-the-scenes footage of Bale as Moses shouting “You’ll never make it back! We will not harm you!” — to Egyptians fleeing the Red Sea tsunami, perhaps? — and, even more interestingly, they have a shot in which we can hear the 11-year-old boy who’s playing the voice of God call to Moses as “Moshe, Moshe.”

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Listen: the ‘Tsunami’ track from Exodus: Gods and Kings

exodusgodsandkings-soundtrackCopies of the Exodus: Gods and Kings soundtrack album, which doesn’t come out until next month, must be making the rounds already. We now have a more detailed list of its contents, and there are even a few reviews of it out there.

The biggest surprise, for me at least, is that some of the most important scenes in the film were not scored by Alberto Iglesias, whose name appears on the front cover. Instead, tracks like ‘Hittite Battle’ and ‘Tsunami’ — from the big spectacular sequences that open and close the film and give it its epic feel — were written by Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven), while other tracks like ‘Lamb’s Blood’ and ‘The Chariots’ were written by Federico Jusid (The Secret in Their Eyes).

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Ridley Scott discusses skepticism and the “magic in science fiction” in a new Exodus: Gods and Kings featurette

exodus-epic-05Another day, another video promo for Exodus: Gods and Kings — and this one’s actually quite interesting, because it addresses the question of Moses’ beliefs head-on. Even better, director Ridley Scott — himself an avowed atheist or agnostic — seems willing to accommodate some of the more supernatural elements in the story, and he seems to want his audience to be open to that too.

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