The latest Exodus: Review

 

 

Exodus pixThis film was so much better than the previous attempt at big box-office Biblical fare-Noah. The elements of the story, for the most part, have been left intact. One question I do have for the marketers of this production…why release it at Christmas?

This film is about Passover, as we all remember. It should really be an Easter release, but since I’m not involved in marketing for the film, I can only shrug and wonder why?

Director Ridley Scott attempts to recreate ancient Egypt as he did ancient Rome in Gladiator and the futuristic city of Los Angeles in Bladerunner. He does a credible job in portraying the building of the pyramids, complete with oppression and cruelty to the enslaved Jews. There are some slight remnants of the great and overblown The Ten Commandments (1956) found in the first part of this movie. But the pomp and spectacle never threaten to distract from the focus of the film, which is not true of the fifties VistaVision version directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

 

Moses is portrayed as a general and a master tactitian, a skilled negotiator who is admired by his troops and his adopted royal family. The plot then moves Moses into the desert thus setting up his initial encounter with God. His subsequent dialogue with the God of Abraham shows the Lord depicted in the guise of a young and extremely self-possessed (other critics have used the term petulant) boy. This depiction works for me, however, some may be offended with God shown in any kind of human form.

One complaint that is justified is the running time. The film runs two and ½ hours, a long time, but the film is not so terribly edited that the action seems padded or plodding and it’s not dragged down with lots of unnecessary plot points or detail.

The parting of the Red Sea is always the big highlight of any  Exodus story. In this film, it’s handled extremely well. Although Moses has been depicted on screen for over one hundred years now, this version allows for the imagination of a creative director, Ridley Scott, plus the combined assets of historical and religious sources added to the creation of CGI effects all brought together to weave a narrative that mellows the histrionics found in DeMille’s spectacle and grounds the story to a semblance of reality.

To be sure, there is spectacle of sorts in this version. But the story focuses on the dialogue between Moses and God and the dynamic leadership embodied in the character of Moses. Christian Bale was a good choice, though not without controversy, as witnessed by the critics crying foul in casting a white man (again) in the role of Moses

To sum it up, this was a satisfactory depiction of a story with so many variations and fascinating elements, it would never be enough to simply tell it once. This is the first CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) depiction in a new era of expanded Biblical and historical enlightenment. I doubt this is the last retelling of the Exodus, but for now, it’ll do.

About The Interview

The interview pixWith so many films of struggle and hardship, the light comedy, “The Interview”, was going to be a welcome respite this holiday season. Sadly, this film has taken on the dimensions of an international coup…

The irony from my perspective, is that the satire focuses on the CIA’s notion that one should or could “take out” the leader of a foreign country! The joke may have been intended to cast a satiric light on the American system…but instead the attention has been misdirected. If the filmmakers had decided to change the name of the dictator, or used a fictitious country, as in the excellent fifties film, ‘The Mouse that Roared”, which poiked fun at the Cold War era and America’s nuclear policy, then the film could have been released.
Political satire, as in the classic “Dr. Strangelove”, is often aimed squarely and rightly so, on the (at times) dubious and questionable practices used by our own government. We live in an open society which allows us to use free speech to question the authority of our government and encourages dissent. But in the world of cyber terrorism, and of terrorist regimes in general who are determined to bring down and destroy our way of life as a free and open society, it’s a pity we must pull this film from circulation.
One can only hope that lessons are learned and that we may be able to see this film, however innocent and light it is, as the filmmakers intended. Preferably sooner rather than later.