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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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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Noah: possibly “psycho”, definitely not “benevolent”

This blog has spent quite a bit of time speculating on the broad narrative contours of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah: What mix of biblical and apocryphal texts will it use? Which characters will it include? What connections will it have to the flood mythologies of other religions, such as Hinduism?

But one thing I haven’t looked at much is how the film will depict Noah himself. I have quoted something Aronofsky said six years ago — long before the movie was in active development — about Noah being a “dark, complicated character” with lots of “survivor’s guilt”. But that’s been about it.

Now we have some new insight into the character, courtesy of Russell Crowe, who told Entertainment Tonight recently (while promoting Man of Steel) that the Noah he plays will not be the “benevolent” figure that some viewers might expect:
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