I went to see Exodus – Gods and Kings a few weeks ago. I hadn’t read anything about it and I was a little apprehensive because I know what is likely to happen when Hollywood takes on a Biblical subject.
I was surprised. I hesitate to say I loved it because I tend think about a movie or book afterwards and get a little carried away. But I did like it. I think it has a lot to recommend it in spite of the things it may have gotten wrong.
Let me explain what I think this movie was all about. This wasn’t an attempt to tell the Bible story of the Exodus, line by line, verse by verse. This was about Moses’ journey from proud general of Egypt, believing only in himself and his ability to the man the Bible calls the meekest man on the earth.
To do that the movie had to divorce itself from the Sunday School lesson we heard when we were twelve and from the Cecil B. DeMilie/Charlton Heston version of the story. The story had to be fresh, new, seen through new eyes. So there were liberties taken. You can read about those on a lot of other web sites. Most of the liberties are things added to the story. You can call them embellishments or you can call them filling in the blanks. Regardless of how you see it I think the movie succeeded spectacularly in its mission.
There is one event that is the hinge point in the story. If you want to experience the emotional impact fresh for yourself you may want to stop here.
Its the morning after the death angel has passed over and Pharaoh comes to Moses carrying his dead child in his arms. Pharaoh says, “Is this the bloodthirsty god you serve?” Moses, as undone by events as Pharaoh, says in a hollow voice, “Not one Hebrew child died.” There is no ‘See, I told you’. There is not celebration. There is no arrogance or pride. On Moses’ face you see awe, wonder, terror. For in this moment Moses knows he has been in the presence of the one true God. Not the silly superstition gods of the Egyptians who predict and sometimes get it right. He has been in the presence of the God who makes things happen.
We go to movies like this armed with our checklists, looking for any detail that does not line up with scripture. And when we see something that’s not quite right we say, “Aha” and condemn the whole thing. We watch for the how instead of the what and Who. We use a movie to close doors where it could have opened them.