Yesterday my partner and I went to see ‘Exodus’.. and despite the fact the script was appalling and any attention to facts and timeline non-existent, (i.e. Abu Simbel existing during the time of Sety 1st among other cliche clangers!) – I sat pretty much enthralled through the whole thing, which only proves how desperate I am for anything vaguely pertaining to ancient Egypt.
There were some interesting character interpretations from the main players, but as fine a talent as Joel Edgerton is – and he really is – the true tragedy of this film was in his casting as Rameses 11 – (you would think they could find a tall, athletic redhead in Hollywood who is truly omnipotent?- Nicole Kidman with the pharonic beard would have been interesting). I thought Christian Bale a handsome Moses, but perhaps a little overwhelmed with the enormity and weight of it all… There was a stand out performance from Ben Mendelsohn as a corrupt political astute, slithering his way to the top of the pyramid.
Speaking of colour, or lack thereof, what was the sepia blue hue throughout most of the film? I felt like I was straining to see through a dark blue veil. Perhaps it was and analogy for the darker aspects of Rameses mind, here characterised here as a kind of ancient Darth Vader. However the lack of colour was particularly perplexing, due to the fact that for ancient Egyptians, colour held significance in ritual and in daily life.
The script was constructed using very broad strokes over the biblical timeline with just not enough depth to the characters and their day to day life and struggles - (most walk on and off as though they have wondered in from a neighbouring film set looking for lunch)….when there was any meaningful dialogue between these ancient peeps it was reminiscent of a child’s pantomime…albeit of The Brothers Grimm persuasion.
The ‘sets’ were mostly computer generated, but even with all that technology it was visually still largely disappointing. In terms of entertainment value, the original ‘Ten Commandments’ with Charlton Heston leaves this for dead, as does ‘The Egyptian’ with Victor Mature, (corny as these films may now appear, they are amazing productions when you consider they are nearly 60 years old, not to mention the extensive research and the fabulous production value offered at a time when majority of peeps would have accepted just about any visual interpretation as authentic).
My partner fell asleep, which was merciful, as he would have complained even more if he had endured the full 150 minutes. I watched every little moment and because I am such a desperate, I will no doubt watch it again – and probably end up buying the DVD….A sorry bit of something one loves IS better than nothing at all – it would seem.
It wasn’t quite as painful as watching our Molly Meldrum ‘Dance like an Egyptian’ on ‘Dancing with the Stars’….but very close.
In Summary: For anybody under 25, Or for the desperate diehards who loved Sunday afternoon watching ‘Epic Theater, Sand and Sandals’ as kids – (me). Or those who feel undressed without a trowel in their back pocket..(me again) Or for those who just want to escape….a lot! – (o.k. me again!) ? Juliet Le Page Dec 8th 2014