Year Released: 2014
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton
(PG-13, 142 min.)
Genre: Drama, Classics
“Let my people go.” Moses
I liked the book better than the movie. The Bible’s story of Moses leading his people to freedom is much more compelling than Ridley Scott’s cinematic version. But what can you expect when a self-acknowledged atheist with little sympathy for the religious storyline is the director?
Or a temperamental star that describes Moses as a “… likely schizophrenic and one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.” Christian Bale
I would guess Charlton Heston is turning over in his grave somewhere right now.
Director Ridley Scott invents some things out of whole cloth and leaves out many others. Do you Bible scholars realize that a Nile River coming alive with crocodiles was somehow invisibly buried in the Book of Exodus?
Or that Moses used a Pharaoh’s sword and not a staff to part the Red Sea? Oops! I am even wrong there, since in the film the sea parts due to a tsunami or some other vague weather event, and Moses arrogantly stays there to be washed over with the Pharaoh Ramses when the sea returns. Both men somehow live; their beautiful horses sadly do not.
And the epic, which is all about the Lord going to great lengths to prove himself the one true diety, puts His name in the plural form in its title.
Or as one critic acerbically puts it:
Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent. John Podhoretz
Many scholars point out that God never appeared to Moses in human form, that it is against Hebrew religious tradition for that to occur. But it is not just the mangled details that mar this film. It is the dark tone, almost as if Christian Bale has resurrected the more morose aspects of his Dark Knight persona for his run here as Moses.
Riddley Scott's Moses did indeed spend years in the desert to the east of Egypt, but he seems little changed from the self-absorbed, violent, and worldly prince of Egypt that he had been.
And thus, he accepts the angel's charge, not with joy and spiritual enthusiasm, but with a kind of resentment. And whenever the child appears to Moses in the remainder of the movie, the liberator seems annoyed. In the book of Exodus, on the other hand, Moses is utterly fascinated by God and drawn ever deeper into union with God's mind and purpose. So transformed was he after one encounter that his face shone with the brightness of divine glory. How far this is from Christian Bale's brooding Moses who seems to wish that God would just leave him alone! Robert Barron
Well, Hollywood and the rest of the film industry have done this deconstruction before. They did it with Sherlock Holmes, where America’s Holmes from television’s Elementary is in many ways both pathetic and dehumanized. Or in the BBC’s beloved Sherlock, where, for instance, Irene Adler, a woman of intellect, beauty, and integrity in Doyle’s tale is now “a ruthless and brilliant dominatrix who also trades in classified information extracted from her rich and powerful clients.”
Deconstruction rules the James Bond franchsie now as well, where Daniel Craig’s latest outing in Skyfall has James Bond darkened, diminished, and deconstructed, a dour 007 who sloshes down Heinekens suited up in his shiny best like a punk rocker out on the town. And he can’t save the world, let alone the single person he’s guarding.
It’s a little like the hollowed out version of Christmas, or should I say “The Holidays” that reigns supreme now. There is no longer any room at the inn for politically incorrect baby Jesus, and even Santa has sold his soul, trading in his sleigh and reindeer for a red Cadillac that you, too, can purchase before Christmas with nothing down.
The funny thing here is that by ramping up the story of the ten commandments into some mutation of a Sward and Sandals /Disaster flick, Ridely Scott and his outspoken star have done themselves no favors. The religious consumers, who flocked to the theaters for Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ are having none of it. They are staying away in droves, just as they fled from the abominable Noah, where the Biblical hero seemed lost in one of the more cheesy “Star Trek” reruns with giant rock creatures emerging like stone versions of the Transformers to help build the Ark?
And Egypt is put out with the historical inaccuracies that have, for instance, Hebrew slaves building its pyramids, with United Arab Emirates banning the film there as well. People of color are similarly unamused at being overlooked in the cast.
And strangely, even the mostly agnostic/atheist crowd of hip critics is sadly unimpressed, giving it a mere 29% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Box office receipts are currently just over $55 million, which is just over a quarter of what the expensive epic cost
There is a little poetic justice here, then. Maybe, in spite of everything, Charlton Heston is not turning over in his grave. Maybe he and his film icon Moses are having the last laugh up there in the heavens after all.
One of the more dramatic moments in Exodus is the first Passover, when the Lord delivers his final blow to Egyptians, whose Pharaoh has refused to free the Hebrew slaves. The Hebrews were to slaughter and eat a lamb and then smear their doorways with its blood. Their first-borns would be spared, but not so with those of the Egyptians, even down to their beasts.
Modern Jews celebrate this event with special meals. I have chosen one that relies on a healthy grain substitute that will please those of you who are health conscious.
This tabouli recipe is different. Instead of using bulgur like traditional tabouli, this recipe uses quinoa. It is a grain that is available at health food stores. It looks and tastes better than bulgur. My husband and I both love this and neither of us is vegetarian. It's a great meal for a hot summer day. The longer it sits the better it tastes. Synea B.
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 bunches green onions, diced
2 carrots, grated
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, carrots and parsley. Stir in cooled quinoa.