Last night, I went to the 20th Century Fox lot and attended a presentation of new footage from Ridley Scott’s upcoming Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. The film has been under fire recently for controversy surrounding the casting of white actors in “hero” roles and actors of color as slaves of evil characters, but that topic didn’t come up last night. Instead, Fox chief Jim Gianopulos and producer Jenno Topping introduced about thirty minutes of footage to take the attention off the controversy and put it on the film itself.
Topping, who called the production “kind of a nightmare,” hit us with some impressive statistics before the footage started rolling: the film needed 1500 VFX shots, had six 3D cameras rolling at all times, and – most impressively – the entire movie was shot in just 74 days, a staggeringly quick turnaround for a production of this scale. And make no mistake: this movie is huge. We were shown several sequences which mostly served to introduce the characters led by Moses, played by Christian Bale and Ramses, played by Joel Edgerton. If you remember the story from Sunday School, it’s essentially about how Moses was raised as a brother to the pharaoh, but when he discovers his true heritage, he leads the Hebrews out of slavery. There’s much more to it than that, and it looks like Scott’s film delves into every aspect, from prophecies to sweeping battles to – yes – the iconic plagues that eventually convince the pharaoh to let his people go.
You could easily see the hallmarks of a Ridley Scott film on display: dirty, gritty battle scenes, soaring cameras with a bird’s eye view of gorgeous ancient cities spread far below, and top tier actors diving into the material with full force. Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Ben Mendelsohn, and more round out the supporting cast, but the showstopping sequences were the ones you’d expect: the plagues. Even without finished VFX, Scott’s vision was a sight to behold – water turning to blood, thousands of frogs, locusts, and bugs overrunning Egyptian households, and the beginnings of the Red Sea escape that cut out at just the perfect time, leaving me wanting to see the full feature right now. I guess I haven’t made my feelings clear about what I thought of the footage: it looks great, and I can’t wait to see it when it debuts later this year.
Christian Bale participated in an on-stage interview afterwards and spoke about playing Moses, the research he did for playing the character, and much more. I was able to take some video of the discussion, so you can watch Bale talk for yourself below:
One of the most interesting parts of the talk was when Bale answered a question about whether or not it was daunting to be at the forefront of a production that’s so massive:
Yeah, because I’m a real prat, so you sort of go, ‘Wow, look at that set. That’s a kilometer long. That’s not easy. Look at all the people. What are they waiting for? Me. Oh, no. [Laughs] How am I ever going to get through this?’ So you act it, you know? That’s sort of the point. You arrive, and you act as though you can handle this, but in truth, absolutely you’re going, ‘Really, Ridley – you should have picked somebody else. I’m not the person to do this.’ But that’s not an unhealthy thing. I think the day that I looked at something of that size and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s me. I should be in the middle of that,’ I’d probably just hate myself.
Good to hear that even after starring in some of the biggest movies of all time, Bale still has a sense of self-awareness. Just after the footage ended, the studio revealed to us their brand new trailer, which came online earlier this morning. Check that out below as well, and you’ll get a sense of the grand scale we’re talking about with this film:
Exodus: Gods and Kings hits theaters December 12, 2014.
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