Déjà vu—it feels like we’ve been here before. As in, with NOAH. Last spring.
According to The Hollywood Reporter and other generally available information, early indications point to director Ridley Scott’s upcoming epic EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS being another NOAH, a film based on a well-known Bible story that strayed far from the biblical narrative.
In a recent piece on EXODUS in which Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone is widely quoted, comments from Scott and Christian Bale, who portrays Moses, are cited that cast serious doubt on the hope that the Old Testament story of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt will appeal to Faith Driven Consumers any more than Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH did. Here, Bale said of Moses, "I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life."
Although we know of no one who has seen the final cut of EXODUS yet—and it appears that 20th Century Fox is keeping a tight lid on the movie’s content—Christian blogger Brian Godawa notes that while Moses was indeed a sinful and imperfect person, for Bale to call him barbaric and schizophrenic is unwarranted and points to a lack of respect for the biblical portrayal of Moses. According to the Bible, Moses is a flawed character who was used mightily by God to demonstrate His superiority over earthly gods and sovereignly free His chosen people from bondage to Pharaoh.
Beyond Bale’s comments, scenes from the EXODUS trailer also suggest major biblical inaccuracies. Aaron, who plays an integral role in the Exodus story, does not appear and climactic scenes involving a nonexistent battle between the Israelites and Egyptians are prominently featured. Significantly, Scott told Entertainment Weekly that the parting of the Red Sea in his movie will be caused by a massive underwater earthquake, not a miracle from God.
While Faith Driven Consumers agree that it’s acceptable for Hollywood to make movies that allow for a certain level of artistic interpretation of the biblical narrative in those areas where Scripture is silent, as with NOAH the question remains to what degree a director can deviate from the core story and still attract faith-based audiences to turn out in theaters and support faith-themed films?
According to a recent American Insights survey, 74% of Americans are likely to see EXODUS if it is biblically accurate but 68% are unlikely to see it if it inaccurately portrays the biblical account.
Tellingly, Scott and his team had their opportunity to appeal to over 41 million Faith Driven Consumers—they were sent the American Insights poll and an invite to further discuss how their film could connect with Christians, but they turned down the offer.
Even more than this, however, is a moment of transparency in which director Ridley Scott drops the f-bomb and dismisses those who look forward to consuming entertainment products that resonate with their deeply held faith convictions. You can read the quote here, but caution is advised for offensive language.
At this juncture, it appears that EXODUS is heading down the same road as NOAH, which failed to attract Faith Driven Consumers to the theaters and didn’t achieve the commercial success it should have here in the United States. NOAH had a very low return on investment compared to movies like HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, GOD’S NOT DEAD, SON OF GOD and THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.
With EXODUS set to open in theaters nationwide on December 12th, stay tuned for updates as we learn more details about the biblical accuracy of this epic biblical story of the Passover and Exodus—God’s deliverance of His chosen people from the tyranny of slavery in Egypt, which points to Jesus Christ’s victory over sin through His death and resurrection on the cross.
Are you surprised by the comments from Christian Bale and Ridley Scott? Given what you know so far, are you planning on seeing EXODUS?