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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Is Ridley Scott’s Exodus the first Bible epic to be shot in 3D?

The first big wave of 3D films came and went in the early 1950s, right around the time when Bible epics were surging in popularity — but to my knowledge, the two trends never met. No Bible films were made in 3D back then, nor have any Bible films been made in 3D since then.

Well, that all changes right now, because it turns out Ridley Scott is shooting his life-of-Moses movie Exodus in 3D, and doing so with the same cinematographer who produced such fantastic 3D images for him in last year’s Prometheus. We can only hope that the script they’re working with will be much, much better this time, but it seems a safe bet that Exodus will look great, at least. The IMDb has the details.

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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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