The Prince of Egypt Returns…

Didja hear? Disney’s asked the writer of Transformers to pen the script for a live-action version of… Dumbo

Seems to be the thing to do now: Turn animated classics into live-action versions that nobody wants.

Along the same lines, remember Dreamworks’ animated epic The Prince of Egypt? Well… doesn’t this look an awful lot a live-action version of that? 

YouTube Preview Image

(Here’s a better high-rez version of  the trailer.)

Yes, Ridley Scott — director of Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, and Prometheus — is bringing back Moses (Maximoses?) in Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Judging from the reports posted by Peter Chattaway, Scott must be in an Old Testament mood: He’s also signed on to produce a movie about King David. Interesting, to see a professing atheist becoming so interested in producing major Biblical epics.

Ah, but will they be “Biblically accurate”? Chattaway has some things to say about that

…and I’m glad he does. This is art, not documentary.

The Old Testament was not written to be a photo-realistic historical documentation of events. It’s a book of stories crafted from, and inspired by, historical details to convey insights about how God has worked, and is still working, in history, leading us “further up, further in” to an understanding of his nature, his grace, and his love. And it was not included in the Biblical canon to equip Christians to deny the discoveries of science, or to give us examples that justify military action in God’s name  It was included in the Biblical canon to show us what led up to Jesus’ arrival — the turning point of human history — and what made him so incredibly necessary, what he did that made”all things new.”

Any time someone tells a Bible story in their own words, they affect what it means. That’s because every element of a well-told story, like every element of a good poem, contributes to the meaning. And when we translate it or adapt it, words change, and thus nuances change, relationships change, and meaning changes. To varying degrees.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t adapt these stories. But it does mean we should attune ourselves to how stories mean, so that our storytelling reflects light in the way that the stories of the Bible do.

So let’s not bicker about “Biblical accuracy.” It’s more important to focus on how these adaptations of the stories interpret, reflect, or distort what these stories mean. Does the story reflect Truth (Capital “T”)? That’s far more important to me than whether or not it reflects truth (Lowercase “t’)… the practical details of an account.

I’m not getting my hopes up about Ridley Scott’s Exodus. Last year’s The Counselor was the first Ridley Scott movie I’ve really liked since, oh, Matchstick Men in 2003… and I haven’t really liked one of his ambitious epics since Blade Runner in 1981. He’s a great visual stylist, but he is too enamored of CGI, and he often works with mediocre screenplays. We’ll see.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Jon

    The Prince of Egypt is one of my all-time favorite animated films. Its characters are more realistically drawn (no pun intended) then most modern blockbusters; it’s a Bible story that never feels like a Bible Story.

    This, on the other hand, I could take or leave–maybe it will be a decent rental.


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