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Film / Exodus: Gods and Kings

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Exodus: Gods and Kings is an Epic Film based on the Book of Exodus from The Bible from director Ridley Scott. It stars Christian Bale as Moses, Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh Ramses II, Golshifteh Farahani as Nefertari, John Turturro and Sigourney Weaver as Ramses's parents Pharaoh Seti I and Queen Tuya, Aaron Paul as Joshua, and Ben Kingsley as Joshua's father Nun. It is produced by 20th Century Fox and was released in December 2014.

Compare with the previous major adaptations of the Book of Exodus, The Ten Commandments and the animated The Prince of Egypt.

Trailer 1, Trailer 2, Trailer 3.

This film contains the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Badass: Moses leads armies and engages in massive battles. This was very briefly touched on in The Ten Commandments as well.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Ramses the Great was discovered to be red-haired in 1994. Joel Edgerton is quite obviously brown haired.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Like The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt, the film identifies the unnamed Pharaoh of the Exodus as Ramses II. Like The Prince of Egypt, the film puts Moses and Ramses in a brotherly relationship before events drive them apart.
  • Adapted Out: Moses doesn't have his iconic staff.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The sunset horizon after the tenth plague is unleashed.
  • Advertised Extra: While Sigourney Weaver's part was fairly publicized before the release of the movie, she only appears in the film for about five minutes. Her role was most likely minimized in the theatrical cut of the movie.
  • Age Lift: Like The Prince of Egypt, Moses is substantially younger at the time of the Exodus than in the Book of Exodus, which says he was 80 years old when he first confronted the Pharaoh.
  • All There in the Manual: God does not explicitly mention there will be ten plagues, but those familiar with the Book of Exodus will know what's going on.
  • Ancient Egypt: The setting.
  • Artistic License – History: The subject matter's historicity is already much debated so this is inevitable.
    • The identity of the Pharaoh(s) in Exodus is uncertain, but Ramses II (and his predecessor Seti) is a popular choice, cemented by The Ten Commandments. This despite the fact that Ramses and Seti were two of Egypt's greatest kings, who led it into a golden age, rather than it being destroyed by the anger of God.
    • While the Egyptians have chariots, they also have cavalry. In real life, their horses were too small to carry men, so they depended on chariots.
    • The Battle of Kadesh as depicted at the beginning of the film was very different in real life; the Hittite forces equipped several thousand chariots as well as the Egyptians, the battle was much less decisive than depicted in the movie (where the Egyptians completely rout the Hittites), and most importantly, was fought under Ramses, not Seti.
    • The Egyptians didn't have the technology to produce the rather delicate and fancy glassware the royal family is shown using.
    • If he were raised as a prince, Moses' head would have been kept shaved, as Ramses' is.
    • There was no pyramid under construction at the time of Seti and Ramses.
    • The Egyptian government and archaeologists actually pointed out to the filmmakers that hanging didn't exist as a form of execution in Egypt during the time of Moses. This makes the scenes of Ramses hanging people laughably inaccurate.
    • Women in ancient Egypt were only allowed to be priests of certain gods and couldn't have been the chief high priests as shown in the film.
    • The Hittites in the films beginning are portrayed by dark-skinned or Middle Eastern actors. However, research has revealed they were not even Middle Eastern. They were white Indo-Europeans, coming from modern-day Eastern Europe. In fact, accounts of the time described them as having light-colored eyes and it's generally agreed they were most likely very fair.
    • A minor one due to having been filmed in one of the Canary Island: Moses is seen eating some plants which could not exist in any Egyptian desert as they are actually an invasive species from Mexico named Agave Americana.
    • For the Battle of Kadesh, Ramses wears a gold headdress. This would be unremarkable except for the fact that he's wearing the vulture headdress, a crown reserved exclusively for queens and definitely not something a would-be king would put on. It's like if a grizzled military general wore a tiara into battle.
  • Bald of Authority: Pharaoh Ramses II is completely bald, as was custom for pharaohs at the time, and has a major god complex, thinking and acting as if he was the true sole authority in Ancient Egypt.
  • Bible Times: The movie is based on the Biblical story of Moses.
  • Big Bad: Pharaoh Rameses.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Early in the film, Moses and Ramses fight in the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites. In real life, Ramses fought the battle when he was already Pharaoh.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: God has shades of this. When Moses calls Him out on sending the tenth plague, He says it is justified after 400 years of abuse.
  • The Chosen One: During the second trailer, Nun mentions to Moses that he's this to lead the Jews from their oppression, according to a prophecy made before his birth. The Exodus account doesn't mention such a prophecy but it shows up in The Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus. The Ten Commandments also refers to this prophecy.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ramses does not believe in God's power until seeing his son die in a supernatural manner.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Ramses chows down on some king crab, demonstrating the wealth and power of Egypt as it would have been an extreme extravagance to transport the crab from Scandinavia to Egypt quickly enough so it wouldn't spoil before it reached the pharaoh's table.
  • Cool Sword: Seti gives Ramses and Moses swords inscribed with their names, but switches them so that they will be reminded to protect each other.
  • Creepy Child: God, of all people (or possibly the Angel talking for him), appears to Moses as one.
    • The implication seems to be that the child is an angel. When he first appears, it is next to the burning bush traditionally associated with YHWH. Later, Moses yells at the boy in frustration that he is tired of talking to messengers (presumably, what the boy is).
  • Defiant to the End: Ramses continues pursing the Israelites even after all ten plagues.
  • Demythification: The film goes by the naturalistic explanations theory for most of the supernatural events in the Exodus account, though it "doesn’t completely shy away from the miraculous".
    • When the plagues occur, one such servant to Ramses tries his best to come up with rational explanations for the phenomena - most of which actually make quite a bit of sense, enough for Rameses to not believe that these were actually acts of God. The said servant and the priests, however, end up on a death row when their explanations/prayers stop being effective at getting out of these problems.
    • First of the plagues are part of one big chain reaction. They start with a rash of crocodile attacks, which in turn churn the clay in the Nile - which seems to be more than usual for that year - and make the water red as blood, killing the fish and driving out the frogs. The frogs die off, their rotting corpses attract gnats and flies, which in turn spread pestilence (disease) among both livestock and humans, specifically causing boils for the latter, and killing off a large portion of the cattle.
    • Storms and hail, as well as dark clouds blotting out the sun, are an Unusually Uninteresting Sight to people of Europe, but in Egypt, were something as scary as a sudden volcanic eruption or fire raining from the sky would be to modern people, even without any added supernatural subtext. A Mediterranean volcano is one of the most popular explanations for all of the above.
    • Locust swarms, which are scary enough in themselves, are also one existing explanation for the death of the firstborn plague. The diseases carried by locusts infect the grain, which was a primary element of diet in Egypt; firstborn children, traditionally, would eat first (top layers) and get double rations. Hebrew, who mostly lived off meat and milk, not grain, would not be affected; Moses made sure they culled the lambs to have enough meat for the time being.
    • The "parting of the Red Sea" is caused by the water receding due to a tsunami, which hits the pursuing Egyptians. Still, it's just at the right time for the Israelites.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Ramses crosses it after his firstborn son dies.
    • His wife Nefertari also suffers from it, as well as Sanity Slippage, as she silently and repeatedly rocks an empty cradle.
  • Epic Film: To be expected, given the source material and director.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Though Ramses condones the horrible conditions for slaves, he is a loving brother, husband, and father.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While Moses agrees to work with God to free his people, he sees God's plan for the tenth plague as being too extreme.
  • A God Am I: Ramses gets to thinking this way at one point. It's Truth in Television (culturally speaking) as the Pharaohs believed that they were gods.
    Ramses: I am a God. I AM A GOD!
  • Good Is Not Nice: God is not nice. But given that this is the God of the Old Testament, it's not too surprising. He certainly does care for the Hebrews and wants Moses to lead them, but he continuously and condescendingly questions the leader of the exodus.
  • Goo-Goo-Godlike: God (or rather, the Angel speaking for God) is portrayed as a child, though the Burning Bush still appears.
  • Hypocrite: After God killed all the Egyptian children, Ramses confronts Moses and calls him out for worshiping a child-murdering God. He should technically be right, but his argument loses weight when he threatened to do exactly the same thing to the Hebrews the day before, right after insisting he was himself a god.
  • Large Ham: In addition to Ramses chewing some hog in the quote above A God Am I, Moses gets to really let loose as well, especially towards God.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The encounter with the Burning Bush happens after Moses wakes up after hitting his head during a landslide, so his wife thinks he was just dazed.
    • Only Moses can see God, so when other people see Moses talking to God, to them it looks like he's talking to air.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Like the previous adaptations of Exodus, the film identifies the unnamed Pharaoh(s) as Ramses II (and Seti).
  • Our Angels Are Different: When Moses sees the Burning Bush, there's also a child who speaks God's lines. In the credits he's named "Malak" after the Hebrew word for "messenger", later translated in Greek as "angelos" (and thus English "angel") which also means messenger.
  • Pin Ball Protagonist: Moses seems to just act as a mouthpiece for God and does nothing to influence his own story - bouncing from plot point to plot point without any apparent motivation.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The film pretty much portrays God (or at the very least, the Angel of Death) as one; he appears as a small boy, and Moses becomes quite disillusioned with the extent of the misery he visits on the Egyptians. He expresses the desire to make the Pharaoh, who thinks of himself as a god, to grovel and beg for the plagues to end and suffer before stopping the plagues. And he never does get around to answering Moses' question of why he waited so long to do anything. Instead he directs the question back at Moses, a behavior he consistently portrays throughout the film.
  • Race Lift: Most prominent characters are played by white people, not actual Hebrews or Egyptians.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Moses does this a few times.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: As of 2016, it has been discovered that Ramesses II was fair skinned.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: God delivering 400 years worth of justice on the Egyptians all at once. Moses even calls him out on this, where God responds that it was long in coming.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: As the waters of the Red Sea return, Ramses' chariots break off pursuit and try to get back to shore. They don't make it.
  • Setting Update: A minor example. Rabbinical Jewish tradition says that Moses' lifespan corresponds to 1391-1271 BC, telling us the Exodus happened in 1311 BC and thus that the Pharaoh of the Exodus would have been Horemheb, the predecessor of Ramses I who is the father of Seti. Jerome, on the other hand, gives Moses' year of birth as 1592, meaning the Exodus would have been in 1512 with Thutmose I as the Pharaoh, and Ussher gives Moses' year of birth as 1571, meaning the Exodus would have been in 1491 with the Pharaoh being Thutmose II.
  • Shout-Out: When Moses returns to Pithom, he is introduced to his brother Aaron, who he then introduces his son to Moses. He then declares to his son that his "famous" uncle was once a Prince of Egypt.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The Pharaoh, Ramses, inexplicably makes it to the shore after being hit by the brunt of the Red Sea's wave, but isn't a Karma Houdini because he knows that his arrogance and vengeance have cost him everything.
  • Sword and Sandal: Moses fights in the Egyptian army as an officer.
  • Tempting Fate: Whilst Ramses is praying to his gods, he hears a noise and believes it to be Moses hiding in the shadows. He threatens to unleash his own "plague" by slaughtering many Hebrews in retaliation for the plagues that have beset upon Memphis, and challenges who is better in killing: him or his god. Seeing as to how he says this before the final plague... God Wins, Flawless Victory!
  • Villainous Breakdown: The "I AM A GOD!" scene comes after nine of the ten plagues hit Memphis, at which point Ramses has lost his shit.
  • Warning Mistaken for Threat: Moses tries and fails to persuade Ramses to free the Hebrews, telling him "This goes beyond you and I, this is about Egypt's very survival," and ultimately tells Ramses to "protect your child, protect your child," with Ramses commenting "Is that a threat?" when in fact it was an attempt to avert the upcoming final plague.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • God and Moses engage in these kinds of conversations most of the time they speak with one another. It makes quite a bit of sense when you note that the Israelites are "those who wrestle with God" (as pointed out in the film).
    • Two men mistaking you for a slave? Kill them. You are exiled, in the middle of the desert, your horse died and you have two men saying they came to see you? Kill them. He even takes their horses afterwards. Although this is explained afterwards as them being assassins.
  • Would Hurt a Child: God unleashing the tenth plague.
  • You Have Failed Me: Ramses hangs a wise man for not solving the plagues. Later he also does the same to the High Priestess.