Moses (Christian Bale) brings plagues aplenty upon the house of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II (Joel Egerton) in a bid to convince him to free a nation of slaves under his control.
…historical accuracy is not going to be the cornerstone of ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’.
If you enjoyed ‘Gladiator‘ then this is the mood that you find Ridley Scott in. Having re-created Rome with all its amphitheatres and Circus Maximus, the Egyptian empire is a similarly attractive vista for him to paint on. However, when a filmmaker goes for authenticity it only makes sense that the casting should follow suit.
Would I want to see an amazing break-through performance from a contextually accurate new-comer over an established Hollywood stalwart? Yes, every time. -Why? Because it’s a fresh take from an unknown whose relative anonymity can help bind the audience to the character they are playing. Do I want to see a white portrayal of ‘Gandhi‘? – Hell, no… but here is possibly where the difference between Dickie and Ridley lies. Sir Richard Attenborough went through 18 years of development hell trying to get that film made with a relatively unknown actor. And it was worth it. Watching it now, it’s a fresh today as it was then. So where is Ridley coming from when he infers that his movie couldn’t get made with lesser-known stars? I think he’s definitely on shaky ground here and that’s not just the rumbling of the red sea we can hear behind him.
Sometimes movie casting can be inspired, where actors often go beyond their own historical backgrounds and physical conditions to deliver strong performances (e.g. Daniel Day-Lewis – ‘My Left Foot’ – which in itself caused controversy). The question here is: can there ever a case for a blurring of backgrounds for the preferred casting of a ‘named’ bankable actor? The only person who can ever answer that is the director of the film in question. They are the ones who will take the ultimate responsibility and will either be damned or praised on the merits of a film’s outcome.
I suspect that Ridley has approached this from the point of view of making a blockbuster piece of entertainment. I may be wrong but I suspect that historical accuracy is not going to be the cornerstone of ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ (sic ‘Kingdom of Heaven‘). That said it’s worth noting that Darren Aronofsky wisely skewed the authenticity question with his movie ‘Noah’ by positioning it as a “personal interpretation” and not an intentionally historically accurate depiction.
I think Ridley (often cited as the master craftsman) could have learnt something from both Dickie and Darren here.