As promised this is my brief review of the Exodus film (a similar review is in the February Evangelical Times)
Hollywood's current fascination with biblical epic continues and hot on the heels of Noah comes a film based on Exodus directed by the acclaimed Ridley Scott. By no means as bad as the attempt on the Genesis narrative, this current offering takes a similar approach and falls way short of what one would have hoped for.
The broad details are followed, of course – a man called Moses grows up close to the Pharaoh and his successor in Egypt; he is sympathetic to the Israelite slaves in that place; he flees to Midian and marries and settles there; God speaks to him from a burning bush; he returns; there are ten plagues; he leads the people out; they cross the Red Sea; the Ten Commandments are received.
However, at every point there are differences, major and minor, from the biblical text. As in The Prince of Egypt which came out some years ago, Moses is assumed to be a close brother of the man who becomes Pharaoh. This time Moses is presented as being unaware of his Hebrew roots and as attempting to organise a guerilla movement before God steps in. His love affair with Zipporah is far more prominent than in the Bible. Presumably we end up with this sort of thing because film makers are eager to give us someone that most people today can relate to. This does not really work here.
As for why Moses is up to his neck in mud when he meets with God at Sinai or why part of Pharaoh's army is killed in a landslide rather than in the Red Sea, who knows? All this means that when we talk to people about Exodus they will have picked up many ideas that are extraneous to the original text. At least the crossing of the Red Sea is dealt with in a fairly accurate manner (although even here is there is plenty of room for improvement), the ten plagues scene is powerful though slightly garbled and the loss of Pharaoh's firstborn comes across well.