Confidence. Bible movies I’ve seen before have portrayed young Moses as an unsure outsider in the Pharaoh’s palace—a man who knew he was Hebrew and didn’t quite belong. Exodus presents him as a confident military leader and privileged member of the Pharaoh’s advisory team, completely unaware of his Hebrew heritage. I have no idea if this is accurate, but I found it thought-provoking.
Jealousy. Exodus’ storyline develops an interesting relationship between the Pharaoh and his son Ramses and his adopted son Moses. Those dynamics of personality and jealousy and indebtedness inform the later interactions between Ramses and the Moses who returns to Egypt to free the Hebrews.
Transformation. Setting up Moses as a military leader allows Exodus to present an interesting transformation. In this version of the story, Moses grows up with little respect for all things spiritual. He tolerates his adopted father’s reliance on a priestess to interpret what the Egyptian gods were saying. He knows nothing of his own people’s faith. Then God appears to him at the burning bush, and he believes. He believes, but he doesn’t understand—because he’s not familiar with this God. He assumes, for example, that God chose him to save the Hebrews because of his military background. So Exodus shows Moses returning to Egypt and having an unsuccessful confrontation with Ramses (who is now the Pharaoh), which leads him to begin training the Hebrews for military conquest. When Moses’ military approach fails, he has to step back and watch God do things His way. The plagues teach Moses as much about God as they teach the Pharaoh. I liked seeing Moses learn and change and grow.
Relationship. Toward the end of the movie God and Moses are working on the Ten Commandments, and they have this exchange:
God: I’ve noticed that about you.
God: You don’t always agree with me.
Moses: Nor you with me.
God: Yet here we are, still talking.
I like the idea that we can keep talking with God—even when we’re angry with Him, even when we disagree with Him, even when we don’t understand what He wants from us. We hang in there and keep talking. Isn’t that what relationships are all about?
Things other people didn’t like
I read some other reviews of Exodus: Gods and Kings before seeing the movie, and most of them gave the movie very low marks. The criticism—from Christians as well as nonChristians—covered the acting, the special effects, the departures from the Biblical narrative (yes, there were some), the fact that Director Ridley Scott is a religious skeptic, and even the fact that the cast was mostly white people. I am not enough of a film (or social) critic to know how much merit those accusations have.
I just know that Exodus entertained me while I was watching it, and it made me think afterward. What more can I ask from a movie?