Watching Christian Bale is always a pleasure. Who would want to miss a cocktail of hot with the epic? Most epics look great on big screen. They are always spectacular and leave you breathless. However, there is always a thin line between acceptance and rejection. The factors that govern these are, one: the shadows of the earlier depictions; two: the director’s vision; three: the audience’s expectation to expect the expected. Any or all of these factors can be detrimental in the success of a project.
Having watched ‘The Ten Commandments’ decades ago, I had certain expectations too. There was an expectation of a different treatment of the famous episodes, expectation of some twists and explanations in this version, and expectation of deeper philosophy explaining the God’s wrath.
Let me present my synopsis and observations of some of the scenes, giving an essence of the film. The use of a child, representing the ‘God’ that Moses could have met atop the mountain, was brilliant. The declaration by the child – ‘I Am’ – resonated in my psyche long after. However, I saw an unresolved inner conflict in Moses. His struggle to accept the diktat of the child, to accept him as God or His messenger seemed real for a while. Yet, he stay on this shaky ground until almost the end of the movie, betraying the faith that people would put in him – the eternal devotee and deliverer. I kept waiting for the staff fight between Moses and Ramses, the famous snake versus snake duel. Moses, as a character, did not come across as the person who is in direct communion with God. He was depicted as a very ordinary Hebrew, with not much power, and not even unflinching faith. The inner conflict did not get resolved except in the end. I would have hoped for a stronger character, like the one projected by Charlton Heston in the 1956 movie. Even a growth of character from hesitant to resolute would have worked the magic. The Moses of Exodus: Gods and Kings had nothing much to contribute to the events except get his men killed. To top it all, I missed the raising of his staff and parting the sea. This Moses sleeps ignorantly and suddenly wakes up to almost dry sea to lead the people across. I love to watch magnum opus, but I prefer the authenticity of a story and development of characters through the medium. This movie lacked it. A recent review called it a visual spectacle minus a heart. I will call it a visual spectacle lacking conviction.
||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||