Thoughts On Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” Brought On By Today’s Readings

This Moses leads from the front.

On Thursdays, I usually lector at the parish within walking distance of my office. What with Noah in theaters now, and more biblical films to come, it shouldn’t surprise you that I thought about the Ridley Scott film on Exodus that is due to hit theaters on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Friday December 12, 2014) .

See, I’m interested in the way that Scott will portray the scene I read to the faithful today. It’s when Moses (Christian Bale) is receiving the law from God, and God tells Moses that the people have made a golden calf.

The LORD said to Moses,
“Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’
The LORD said to Moses,
“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”

Uh-oh. It’s kind of like Noah and the Flood, all over again.

On the set of Prometheus.

But will Ridley Scott have God actually talking? Will he have Him appear in a pillar of fire, writing the 10 words on the stone tablets?

I’m not so sure.  However he decides to portray God, it’s likely to be epic, if the director’s comments back in October are to be believed,

And what sort of scale can we expect from Exodus?

Scott has two words for you: “F***ing huge.”

He’ll have to part the Red Sea, then…

Have to.”

And Christian Bale will have some mighty big shoes to fill in the scene I read to the congregation today. Because while God seems to have come to a decision about the folks back in camp with the golden calf, Moses steps up as their advocate. Shades of Abraham to the Angel of the LORD in Genesis.

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’“

That takes some chutzpah, no? Not bad for a man of few words.

So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

And that’s where the Old Testament reading for today ends the scene. But that’s not how this act ends in the play, for Moses goes on to punish the folks below.  I wonder if what happens next will make it into the film? Especially considering what Bale said in an interview right before Thanksgiving last year,

Bale has been hard at work filming Ridley Scott‘s “Exodus” these last few weeks, and the actor told HitFix in a recent interview that audiences can expect a far cry from what Charlton Heston and Cecil B. DeMille delivered 60 years ago.

“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.”

Read more.

Well, I can truthfully say that I have read the entire Pentateuch, (just this year!) and the next scene in the act is pretty brutal.

Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” All the Levites  then rallied to him, and he told them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Each of you put your sword on your hip! Go back and forth through the camp, from gate to gate, and kill your brothers, your friends, your neighbors!”

The Levites did as Moses had commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people fell.

Then Moses said, “Today you are installed as priests for the LORD, for you went against your own sons and brothers, to bring a blessing upon yourselves this day.”

Cecil B. Demille kind of glossed over that part of the story. It will be interesting to see how Ridley Scott handles The Atonement, too We shall see.

Oh, I’d be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I didn’t tell you about the great little movie in which Moses (Bale) and Noah (Russell Crowe)  appear together. And I gotta tell you, that though I enjoyed the fact that Noah wasn’t  awful (like some feared, de gustibus), the remake of 3:10 To Yuma was outstanding.

It even had Ham in it (Logan Lermon).

See it soon!

Noah meets Moses

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