Exodus: Gods and Kings: (2014): Christian Bale as Moses in Ridley Scott’s Epic

exodus_gods_and_kings_3_bale_kingsley_scottTwentieth Century Fox offered first look at its “Exodus: Gods and King” for the media at the Zanuck Theater.  It is the studio’s main Oscar card and Christmas release, but unfortunately the reception was cool–and for good reasons.

 

Oscar-winner Chritian Bale told the audience that the movie is very different from previous versions of the tale, specifically Cecil B. Demille’s 1956 Oscar-nominated blockbuster, “The Ten Commandments.” “You can’t out-Heston Charlton Heston,” he joked.  “Our Moses is a troubled and tumultuous man.”

exodus_gods_and_kings_1_bale_scottJudging by the footage, the Ridley Scott-helmed epic falls into the “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore” category, with big battle scenes and aerial panoramas of ancient cities, rustic settlements and military camps, all rendered in 3D  CGI.  The footage really shifted into high gear with the depiction of four of the 10 plagues.

Topping saluted director Ridley Scott for shooting the film in only 74 days, with six 3D cameras always rolling.  From a production point of view, she said “this movie was kind of a nightmare, it was hugely ambitious.” She added that the film includes 1,500 visual effects, and reminded that the visual effects and music were temps.

exodus_gods_and_kings_2_bale_scottAfter the footage, in a Q&A, Bale said that since his knowledge of Moses was minimal, he read up extensively, studying everything from “Moses: A Life,” by Jonathan Kirsch, to the Koran. He described Moses as “very mercurial,” but said God is also mercurial, and “a God of good and evil,” with no mention of the devil or even the afterlife.

The first films Bale watched were “The Life of Brian” and Mel Brooks’ “History of the World, Part I,” to get a humorous perspective before tackling “something as earnest and heavyweight as this.”

Asked about the pressure of having such a big-scale production, with a large cast, on his shoulders, Bale said “I’m a real prat.”

He admitted to some anxieties, “Look at all the people, what are they waiting for? Oh, me… Ridley, you should have cast somebody else.”  That’s in-keeping with attitude of Moses, who resisted the “incredible pressure put on him” of saving all these people, and told God to pick someone else for the leader role: “He kept trying to get out of the gig.”

The biggest problem, he said: Figuring out what to include, since there was enough material to fill an eight-hour film. “Steve Zaillian, who wrote the script, felt it was really a story of revolution,” he added.

Bale said “because the character was so consuming, exhausting….I couldn’t sustain the intensity” of Moses, so he felt more like himself during the production than in most other shoots.

exodus_gods_and_kings_2_bale_scottThe actor had talked with Scott four or five years ago about finding a project together. Bale liked the script that Scott sent, and they agreed to the film.

Bale finally met with Scott just after wrapping “American Hustle,” and he still had the shaved head and the weight gain that made him near unrecognizable in the David O. Russell picture. The director apparently “really tried not to show a look of absolute horror.”

The film opens December 4 in some countries,  The global rollout includes Israel on December 11, a day before the U.S. on December 12 and U.K.on xmas Day.

Other cast members include Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh Ramses, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.

The script is by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Zaillian.

Producers are Peter Chernin, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam.