Christian Bale has caused concern amongst some Christian writers with his remarks about Moses, the Biblical figure he plays in Ridley Scott’s forthcoming Exodus: Of Gods and Kings.
“I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life,” Bale said at a press conference in Los Angeles.
The actor said he wasn’t knowledgeable about the Bible before taking on the role, but had undertaken significant research, including also reading the Torah, the Koran and Jonathan Kirsch’s life of Moses. Bale said he was surprised by the complexity of the figure – and his creator.
“He was a very troubled, tumultuous man and mercurial. But the biggest surprise was the nature of God. He was equally very mercurial.”
Bale’s comments have been received with scepticism by an online Christian community which had expressed the hope that Scott’s spectacular would be closer to the text than Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, released earlier this year.
Christianity Today appeared to resign itself to a secular treatment, reporting that “[w]hen asked about parallels between Exodus and the recent rise of political tension in the Middle East, Ridley Scott told reporters, ‘People can do that if they want to be really negative or just sit down and enjoy the fucking movie. It’s a movie!’”
But – as the Hollywood Reporter points out – Peter Chattaway atPatheos.com is troubled by the very idea Bale “speculates about what was going on inside Moses’ head”. Meanwhile, Faith Driven Consumer has commissioned a poll which appears to show that 74% of Americans would be likely to see the film if it was biblically accurate, but 68% would be unlikely to watch it were it inaccurate.
Chattaway echoes the disquiet of other bloggers over Scott’s treatment of the central seismic event in the film; the director shows the Red Sea parting on account of an earthquake, rather than divine intervention.
“You can’t just do a giant parting, with walls of water trembling while people ride between them,” said Scott, who said he failed to believe the sight when as a child he watched 1956’s The Ten Commandments. “I remember that feeling, and thought that I’d better come up with a more scientific or natural explanation.” Source