Christian Bale gets a wife in Ridley Scott’s Moses movie

Cameras have started rolling on Exodus!

The Spanish website Fotogramas reports that an actress has been hired to play the wife of Moses, and along the way they mention that production on the film began yesterday in London. So… this is really happening!

The actress in question is María Valverde, whose credits include the British movie Cracks (2009), directed by Ridley Scott’s daughter Jordan. Valverde will get to work with the elder Scott in December, by which time the production of Exodus will have moved to Spain.

Fotogramas does not say which of Moses’ wives Valverde will play, but it’s probably a safe bet that the wife in question will be the Midianite daughter of Jethro whose name in English has been translated variously as Zipporah, Tzipora, Sephorah and so on. And if the Google translation of the Fotogramas article can be trusted, the website also claims that “the time span of the character” will cover “10 years and two different ages.”

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Ben Kingsley set to co-star in his second or third Moses movie; other actors also join Ridley Scott’s Exodus

I haven’t seen it in years, but of all the movies that have been made about the life of Moses, one of my favorites is the Lux Vide production Moses (1995), starring Ben Kingsley. As I said in my review of the film at the time:

For sheer human realism, Kingsley’s is probably the best interpretation of Moses any film has offered to date. He stutters nervously in the Egyptian courts; he wrestles with his doubts when God’s plans seem to fail; he rejoices ecstatically when the Pharaoh’s chariots drown; and he sheds painful tears when the Levites kill their fellow Hebrews for worshiping the golden calf.

So I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu now that Kingsley has reportedly joined the cast of Ridley Scott’s life-of-Moses movie Exodus. Admittedly, he will not be playing the part of Moses himself this time; that role has already gone to Christian Bale. Instead, according to Deadline, Kingsley will play “a Hebrew scholar”.

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Timur Bekmambetov in talks to direct Ben-Hur remake

Seven months ago, we learned that MGM was developing a new adaptation of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the classic Lew Wallace novel that had previously been adapted by the studio in 1925 and 1959. Now comes word that Timur Bekmambetov — the Kazakh director of Night Watch (2004), Wanted (2008) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) — is in talks to direct the film, apparently because the studio feels he has “a strong grasp on the story’s themes of revenge and redemption.”

At first glance, Bekmambetov — who specializes in heavily stylized adaptations of comic books and horror-fantasy novels — would seem an odd fit for this story, given the ancient setting and the sincerity or earnestness with which earlier films have tackled the novel’s themes. But this news sort of makes sense in light of the fact that studios have been trying for years now to imitate the success of 300 (2006), a heavily stylized adaptation of a graphic novel about the Persian invasion of Greece.

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Will there be two Bible epics on the big screen in 2014?

Ridley Scott’s Moses movie may be further along than we thought. Box Office Mojo posted a few new release dates to its schedule yesterday, and one of them was for Exodus, the Bible epic that Scott has been developing with 20th Century Fox for the past year or two. If the site is to be believed, Exodus will be coming to a theatre near you on December 12, 2014 — or about a year and a half from now. And that would make it one of two Bible epics hitting the big screen next year, the other being Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which comes out March 28. Interestingly, that film stars Russell Crowe, who has appeared in four of Scott’s last five films and sort of owes his stardom to an even earlier Scott-directed sword-and-sandals flick, Gladiator (2000) — so who knows, if Scott calls on Crowe’s services again, Crowe could end up finding himself in both of next year’s Bible epics. (Hat tip to The Playlist.)

It’s all connected: Gertrude Bell, Harry Potter and more!

Deadline reports that James Franco is “circling” a role in Werner Herzog’s long-in-development Gertrude Bell biopic Queen of the Desert. The role — which was once going to be played by Jude Law — is that of Henry Cadogan, a British diplomat who met Bell when she visited Persia, or modern-day Iran, in the 1890s. Bell herself will be played by Naomi Watts.

This bit of news reminds me that I never got around to blogging the last bit of casting news around this film, when it was announced last summer that Twilight star Robert Pattinson is attached to play T.E. Lawrence, a.k.a. “Lawrence of Arabia”. I found that news kind of amusing because Pattinson has already co-starred with another actor who once played Lawrence.

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Two more TV-movies — one now, one later — for Holy Week

I promise to have a post on last Sunday’s episode of The Bible soon. In the meantime, I just want to note two things that popped up in my news feed today.

First, it turns out there is another brand-new Bible-themed movie on TV this week, as the Reelz network is hosting the American premiere of Barabbas, a two-part mini-series about the Jewish rebel or criminal who was freed by Pilate in Jesus’ place.

Starring Billy Zane and directed by Roger Young (who previously directed some of the better-known films in the ‘Bible Collection’ series), it is based on the same Par Lagerkvist novel that inspired the 1961 film starring Anthony Quinn (as well as a 1953 film made in Sweden and, apparently, a 2001 film made in Armenia).

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