Ridley Scott’s Moses movie will be “shocking”, says Bale

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.

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How do you promote a Bible epic when you’re not religious?

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.

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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.)


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