The P word

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Pelicola — Exodus : Gods and Kings

When I first heard of this movie, I was a bit more intrigued than excited. Not to say that I was not excited, for this would be another motion picture epic; I just wanted to know what perspective of the Moses story would be shown to us.

The Charlton Heston Moses movie has long since been the point of comparison for all stories of the Hebrews’ deliverance from Egypt, as this was the Hollywood version of Biblical accounts. This gave a four hour-long detail to the life of Moses:  from his Birth, to his adoption, to his rise to Egyptian nobility, to his exile, and his return to Egypt to free “his people”. 

The 1956 film “The Ten Commandments”, starring Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Rameses, is still regularly shown in local TV every Holy Week, as it is (to some extent) still the closest to a video version of the account of the Book of Exodus, specifically surrounding the events from the deliverance from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land, flowing with Milk and Honey. Some may even say that the film could serve as a visual aid for catechists, showing the awesome and merciful nature of Yahweh.

Although there were other attempts to tell the story of Moses and his role in the freedom of the Jews from bondage, such as the animated “Prince of Egypt”, I was really intrigued about how non-traditional the account of the movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings” was.

First of all, this was not your traditional Exodus Story. I mean, aside from having the same theme of the liberation of a nation of Jews from bondage into the Land of Canaan, together with certain specific people and events leading up to and resulting from that plot, this movie does not share much of the story we are used to. In fact, the latin word Exodus (from the Greek Exodos: “The road out”, as Merriam Webster says), though associated with and alluding to Judeo-Christian tradition, also translates to a mass emigration of people from one place.

Also, the Moses of this telling was a Military General of Noble or Princely rank. Though this is only implied in the bible (being adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter) and lacking in specifics, as the biblical account jumps straight from Moses being saved from the water (Ex 2:10) to the slaying of the oppressive Egyptian (Ex 2:11-12). This was given more light in “The Ten Commandments”, which provided an introductory backstory of a love triangle between Moses, Nefretiri, and Rameses (who would later on become Pharaoh). However, in “Exodus: Gods and Kings”, his role switched from simple nobleman to a leader and a strategist, who would later on become the “General that would lead God’s Army”.

The movie also saw a different perspective of God/Yahweh/IAm, but still a very moving and powerful presence. To avoid spoiling the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet, I will avoid specifics. Though I am pretty sure many other sources have already mentioned how different the portrayal of the Almighty is in this movie. Something new means something to look forward to. This adds to the curiosity/intrigue factor. Don’t be fooled, however, as Yahweh is still very much an important figure in the story, who serves not just as Deus ex Machina, but as the rail that guides the story through to fruition. 

Another point of difference between the ’56 flick and this one, is that the 2014 version is not heavily anchored on the typical romantic story between male and female protagonists. Where Heston’s Moses had the love triangle involving Yul Brynner’ Rameses and Anne Baxter’s Nefretiri, and how this conflict developed into the see-saw battle for the people of the God of Abraham, the modern take had a more intimate relationship between Moses (Christian Bale) and Zipporah (Maria Valverde) which he sacrifices as a sign of faith and purpose in order to free “his people” from the bonds of slavery in Egypt. 

There were a lot of parts in the movie that, although not as catechetical as the 1956 De Mille film, made me think a lot about the roots of faith and how (regardless of religion) we human beings are moved by the sense of common good. One such instance is how Moses gives up all the comforts of home (granted that this was somewhat of a demotion from his princely stature in Egypt) in order to liberate a group of people he does not personally know all because he feels it is right. This, of course, and the fact that “I Am” tasked him with the holy quest. And more than that, he grounded himself on the faith that he would do all this AND return to his family.

Another is when, after the deliverance, Yahweh dialogues with Moses on Mt. Sinai as Moses is carving God’s words on to the famed tablets. During this conversation, he mentions to Moses that they do not always agree with each other, yet, here they both were, fulfilling what needed to be done for the building of a nation, a people, under one faith, one spirit, one God. Those words, nay, Laws were set in stone, because leaders like Moses may falter, but stone endures the test of time.

So much has not been said about the movie, nd people may think that this is just another one of those intriguing and controversial movies on faith intended to shake and destroy one’s faith or, conversely, to promote one’s faith in attempt to convert others, but when I saw it, I was reminded of how human beings were created in His image and likeness, though most either forget this or choose not to see it. I say: Just watch and see.

Photo Credits: https://s.yimg.com/os/publish-images/movies/2014-07-08/aeb2e820-06c2-11e4-a4d1-871cc3dd335f_exodus-gods-and-kings.jpg

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This entry was posted on December 9, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , , .
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