Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton on Reading the Bible, Making a Modern 'Exodus'
Image: Kerry Brown / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton in 'Exodus: Gods and Kings'

Most audiences—especially religious audiences—will have a complicated relationship with Ridley Scott's new epic film Exodus: Gods and Kings, out tomorrow (here is Brett McCracken's review). It's an old story that's been retold many times on screen (read Peter Chattaway's exploration of the history of Moses movies here). It's a beloved story that's vital to the identity and story of three major world religions.

And there is the complicated problem of casting white actors in the film's major roles—a question that has implications that go far beyond the film and that deserves to be treated carefully and in more depth, particularly given the story of the Exodus.

But no matter what, it's a film that many people will see and discuss. On Monday, I participated in a roundtable discussion with a number of journalists, during which director Ridley Scott, Christian Bale (who plays Moses), and Joel Edgerton (who pretty much steals the show as the Pharaoh, Ramses) talked about about Exodus: Gods and Kings.

After the roundtable, I got to sit down alone with Bale and Edgerton, who were funny and gracious. I asked them about how they prepared for their roles, what makes this film different from its predecessors, and why the story of the Exodus continues to be made into movies.

I'm really intrigued by the family dynamic of the story. The whole movie was set up as being about choosing your family, or being rejected by family. There's a really big emphasis on the question: “Are these your people, or not?” There's the death of the firstborn sons, and of course there's the brotherly relationship. This all feels really close to what the story of Exodus ...

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How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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