On the heels of "Noah" starring Russell Crowe, reports are surfacing about another famous Old Testament story that has captured the interest of Hollywood.
The story of the Exodus is coming to theaters.
The large-scale biblical drama looks BIG. EPIC. The kind of movie studios used to thrive on but are simply cost-prohibitive these days. Well, they seem to be making a comeback. Ben-Hur, which took 11 Academy Awards in 1959 including Best Picture, is now being remade. Of course Paramount released Darren Aronofsky’s Noah early in the year. But Gladiator in 2000 was the last big-scale epic of this period to wow Academy voters into giving up their Best Picture vote. It’s no coincidence that Ridley Scott directed that one, which also brought Russell Crowe an Oscar for Best Actor. Now Scott is back doing the impossible for Fox with Exodus.
Exodus stars Christian Bale. (Batman and Moses? Not bad.) The Speakeasy blog at the Wall Street Journal provides a nice overview of Bale's approach to and understanding of his role:
Bale said his Moses is less overtly righteous, and more conflicted. A Moses for modern times — though truer, in some ways, to the source material that describes Moses as having difficulty accepting God’s commands.
In one scene, Bale’s Moses, raised in the Pharoah’s house as the brother to the Egyptian prince, smirks at an Egyptian priestess attempting to read the future in the entrails of a bird. In another, he mocks the faith of the Hebrew slaves and lectures them on the dangers of “fanaticism.”
Bale quickly surpassed Sunday school basics and to prepare for the role, delving into scripture and literary works. He read the first five books of the Bible, the Koran, as well as Louis Ginzberg’s classic, “Legends of the Jews”; and Jonathan Kirsch’s “Moses: A Life.”
“I had no idea about Moses,” Bale said, “He is mercurial, troubled.” But, he said, “most surprising” to him was “the nature of God, and that He equally was mercurial.”
Bale sought to portray a complex personality challenged by his mission from God to face off against the mighty Pharoah and free his people from slavery. “This should be something where you see a man struggling,” he said. “He kept trying to get out of the gig."
Cinematic portrayals of biblical narratives are alway somewhat disappointing. However, Bale is an outstanding actor and the trailer (it's available on YouTube) looks pretty good. Maybe we'll all be pleasantly surprised.