Ridley Scott’s new biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings is causing a stir, and not necessarily in the way the filmmaker might wish.
Despite a decent $24.5 million box office debut, many reviewers and social media users have mocked the Exodus’ choice of actors and many inaccuracies.
Movie goers took to social media sites like Twitter to criticize the all-white actors and actresses chosen to depict Moses and his Egyptian family, with Middle-Eastern and black actors only playing that of slaves and minor characters. Many believed that a Middle Eastern or black cast would have more accurately portrayed the films major roles, and the Twitter hashtag #BoycottExodusMovie was created to shutdown the film as users believed the racial oversight to be unforgivable.
Scott defended his choice of actors in an interview with Variety by saying, “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”
With tension already being high in the country following a series of racially-charged incidents, many see an all-white cast in Exodus to be in poor taste, but that isn’t the only challenge Gods and Kings is facing.
The Jewish and Christian community are also weighing in on the biblical text inaccuracies in the film. As with the recent Noah, many believers see Exodus: Gods and Kings as a godless movie.
One such inaccuracy is how Exodus builds its plot around Moses’ Hebrew heritage being the cause of Pharaoh’s hatred, and not around the story as it is written in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament of the Bible. The film shows Moses learning of his Hebrew birth from a slave he saved from a whipping at the hands of an Egyptian slave-driver. According to the Bible, he was already aware of his background at that time, having killed the Egyptian out of compassion for his people. Moses flees to the desert after the murder of the slave-driver, he isn’t exiled by the Pharaoh due to his heritage.
Yet the most glaring perceived oversight by Exodus, for some, is the depiction of God and the lack of supernatural displays of His power in the film.
Biblically, God is written to be powerful and vengeful in defense of His chosen people and commissions Moses to free them. Exodus: Gods and Kings, however, depicts God as a petulant eleven-year-old boy played by Isaac Andrews, whose role isn’t exactly clear. Is he a figment of Moses’ imagination or is he, in fact, God? The discrepancy of the movie shows Moses returning to Egypt on his own and not as a messenger of God, leaving out the divine mission altogether. Not only that, but the supernatural signs that Moses is written to have performed as evidence of God’s might aren’t represented at all, leaving many to be outraged by the lack of Exodus’ religious reference.
With Scott’s statements like “the biggest source of evil is of course religion,” one might wonder if he is the best choice to illustrate such a sacred narrative to an audience drawn to theaters by a story they hold so dear to their faith.
With both racially and religious audiences angered by Exodus: God’s and Kings, it will remain to be seen if the movie fares as well as its opening weekend.