Exodus: Gods and Kings: A Second Look

I had 0.0 desire to see the new movie Exodus: Gods and Kings until I read the review posted below.  I’ve always loved Ridley Scott, but I’ve read all of the horrible reviews concerning this movie.  Also, the movie Noah that came out earlier this year, with Russell Crowe, was so terrible that it kind of made me gun-shy over Biblical epics.  However, even though the following reviewer was trying to make Scott’s new movie sound horrible, she made it sound so batshit insane that now I want to see it.  (If her review was an attempt to dissuade people from seeing it, she just did the opposite in my case.)  This is from Remy M. Maisel over at Huffpo:

Never have I seen a movie so profoundly, completely and utterly misunderstand the point of its own story as Exodus: Gods and Kings did. In fact, it’s so off that I can’t help but wonder if maybe the film has a different agenda than I thought it did.

Even setting aside that a white man named Christian — CHRISTIAN — was hired to play Moses, and that Ramses had blue eyes, and that there were Brits and Scots and Americans just in the mix to play the speaking characters, and that Aaron Paul was there (and didn’t play Aaron), this film made no sense. 

Every single person and idea in this story is so thoroughly mischaracterized that the basic, essential point — that the Hebrews have been long oppressed and are being deservedly liberated, hooray! — gets lost. Instead, we are left feeling deeply sad for Ramses, who twice tells his young son something like “You sleep so well. It is because you know that you are loved. I have never slept so well.” You want to cry for him. Ramses keenly feels his father’s lack of approval and affection, and it drives him in everything he does. We know why he is motivated to do the bad things he does. We can empathize. 

Moses, meanwhile, is completely unsympathetic. Christian Bale plays him like he is reprising his role in American Psycho. He has no rapport with Ramses. He doesn’t look or dress like an Egyptian in the beginning of the film, when he believes he is one. He doesn’t kill a taskmaster to spare a beaten slave: he does it out of aggression, and when he need not have. Like the rest of his actions, this choice is inexplicable and unjustifiable. 

We also see hundreds more shots of innocent Egyptian citizens suffering terribly because of the plagues than we do images of the Hebrews being forced to work or otherwise abused. Moses doesn’t seem to mind that the man he was raised with, as a brother, is enduring this. There is no emotional plea to Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” He never even says this. Why would he? He clearly does not consider them his people, or really care if they get to go or not. 

God doesn’t really seem to care, either. If possible, he is even less interested in explaining anything to Moses than he is in the Old Testament. It’s as if he doesn’t want Moses to know what’s going on, either. Instead of saying he has heard the cries of his people, and that he is ready to save them, he needles Moses for asking where he’s been for 400 years. He snidely points out that Moses hasn’t done anything to help the Hebrews, either. He never assures Moses that he will be with him, and help him on his difficult journey. He also yells at Moses that revenge feels great, which is entirely inconsistent with Judaism. (On Passover, we remove a drop of wine from our glasses for each plague, so as not to celebrate the suffering of the innocent Egyptians.) 

Not helping matters is the fact that Aaron and Miriam are rendered even less relevant than they were in the Dreamworks classic The Prince of Egypt — which, by the way, is my only complaint about that film. It is as if he has no allegiances or ties or sense of kinship to anyone or anything at all. At no point does Moses seem to belong to the Hebrews any more than he belonged when he was an Egyptian prince. Nor does he even have any apparent fondness for the Midianites, or chemistry with Tzipporah, who is as unsupportive as it gets. And once he leads the Hebrews through the sea, he seems indifferent about whether he collects her and his son before they head to Canaan or not.

Moses is also pretty staunchly and aggressively atheist for most of the film, even arguing with his wife about nurturing their son’s faith — that is, until he gets knocked unconscious by an avalanche, which is what happens right before he encounters God. So we can only assume he was concussed and hallucinating. Which I hope he was. Because God happens to be embodied by a creepy, petulant little British boy, while the burning bush in the background is totally ignored. The representation of God in the Old Testament is inconsistent, yes, but in this story, God is fire. He does not come to Moses as a person. God is a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” He is pillars of smoke. He is a staff that becomes a cobra. He is his “wonders.” 

So what of the wonders? Well, there’s no staff, so it doesn’t get turned into a snake. For some reason, the Nile turns to blood not because God had Moses do it with his staff, since there is no staff. Instead, it is because God sent some hungry crocodiles into the water to chew up the people in boats — here, there is homage to Jaws — and then each other, until the water is bloodied. There being no staff, that also does not part the Red Sea (!). He throws his sword in it. And then it does not part. Instead, it drains like a bathtub. Not super fast, either. It takes all night.

This movie is so tone-deaf, and so misses every mark you expect to see it knock out of the park, that it’s not even aggravating so much as it is baffling. So, Happy Hanukkah. If, for some reason, you wish to celebrate it with the Passover story, try The Prince of Egypt. Because we will all be happier if we just pretend Exodus: Gods and Kings was never made.

Israel Grabs More Palestinian Land

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/31/israel-west-bank_n_5745498.html

This above is an article from Huffington Post that is about how Israel is instituting a new land grab in the West Bank.  One can’t help but feel that a certain portion of Israel’s government is a criminal element that stands outside the law of nations.  It is not Jews in general or even all of the Israeli people, much in the same way that Rick Perry does not represent all Texans, that are responsible for this.  However, unfortunately, because these are the politicians that have the power in Israel right now, I believe we must treat the nation of Israel as pariah that needs to be checked if there is ever going to be peace in the Middle East.  Hopefully change will come from within.  In the meantime Americans should demand that our government quit sending Israel money.  

The Immorality of Our Israeli Position

childcaptive

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-m-walt/aipac-americas-israel-policy_b_5607883.html

The above article is about the suffering going on in Gaza, about Israel’s morally bankrupt policy there, and about how AiPAC has used its influence in America to paralyze us and prevent us from doing anything.  We give Israel $3 Billion dollars in direct foreign aid every year and another $12-17 billion in indirect aid.  If you remember I also posted a link to a blog sometime back, from Andrew Sullivan, which talked about how 23 Palestinians die for every one Israeli.  There is outrageous injustice going on in that part of the world and we are helping to fund it.

It’s a Queer World

It’s a queer world, God knows, but the best we have to be going on with. – Brendan Behan

If you read the headlines enough they become like a tickertape of the absurd.  I go to Huffington Post once or twice a day as it is usually a good place to see what the country is talking about.  I don’t really read many of their articles, there are way better places to get in depth knowledge, but it’s a good place to get the pulse of what is going on.  Just today they had a morning headline about how the Iraq War architects were being brought back into the fold by the media as if they had any credibility left.  They should be in shackles for all the poor men and women they sent to their deaths, not on TV voicing their opinions.  Then tonight I see the headline is that our country is going to execute three convicts within 24 hours starting tonight.  It’s like that scene in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart where the characters of Sailor and Lula ride through the desert flipping through the radio.  Every station features news darker and more degrading than the last, until they finally can’t stand it and decide to crank heavy metal music.

However, there are reasons to be hopeful.  President Obama finally made the speech that he needed to on climate change.  It obviously remains to be scene what he can actually accomplish, but it was a strong speech that no other President has dared to make.  It also looks that despite the media giving some voice to the insane warmongers who got us into Iraq, that there is also some genuine pushback to stay out of the Middle East for once.  I am no Thomas Friedman fan, but in the Sunday Times he mentioned that the two countries that are doing best in the Middle East, Tunisia and Kurdistan, are also the countries that we have largely stayed out of.  Hopefully some of those in power understand this.  

I just recently started a part time job canvassing for a political organization.  I thought it would be a good way to make a little extra cash and do something positive in my community on days I don’t have shows.  Going door to door I have found most people to be polite and kind.  Flipping though mainstream TV and paying attention to the headlines is an easy way to find oneself depressed.  However, there is good in this world and it is worth remembering that all hope is not lost.  You might have to dig for it sometimes, but it is there.  Don’t let the bastards get you down…

Tom Hayden on Iraq

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/behind-the-madness-in-ira_b_5493758.html

This is a good piece over at Huffington Post by Tom Hayden about what is going on in Iraq now and why we need to stay out.  The predictions of those that took us there have now been proven wrong a billion times over.  There has been so much death and destruction for no reason.  It might be easy in hindsight to say that we simply got it wrong, but many of us knew Iraq was a mistake and didn’t think we should go into that country in the first place.  My parents were part of a peace march BEFORE the initial invasion.  

Often when people have racist or ignorant views in the past it is typical for someone to say that they shouldn’t be blamed because they were just holding views “of their time”.  However, when one looks deeper into history you will often see that many people knew better and that this argument doesn’t usually hold water.  Don’t let anyone tell you that we didn’t know better before we went into Iraq.  That was a war of choice, plain and simple.  

DEA Stands in the Way of Science

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/11/dea-blocks-marijuana-science_n_5482367.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

The above article is a Huffington Post article that talks about how the DEA has purposely prevented research being done on marijuana.  This is depressing not only because it stands in the way of common sense and scientific knowledge, but because of all of the lives that have been ruined in our ridiculous drug war.  I’d like to say more, but you get the general idea…

Militarization of Our Police

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/military-equipment-used-by-police_n_5475382.html

The above link is to a Huffington Post article about how our policed forces are becoming more militarized.  In fact the article says that a lot of the weapons from our recent wars are making their way home.  The militarization of our police has been going on for awhile now, so this article doesn’t surprise me.  If you read Matt Taibbi’s eye opening The Divide, about the injustice of our justice system, you will see how our society is slowly becoming a dystopia. It starts at the law enforcement level and goes the whole way up the chain.  That’s not to say there aren’t still good people at every level, just that the system itself is flawed.