'Exodus': How Ridley Scott Chose His 11-Year-Old Voice of God
When God speaks to Christian Bale's Moses in the film, it's through a young boy played by Brit Isaac Andrews
This story first appeared in the Nov. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
As Paramount found this year with Darren Aronofsky's Noah, films about biblical subjects can expose a studio to unwanted controversy. That's especially true for stories about Moses, a figure of significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Now it's Fox's turn to grapple with sensitive depictions as Exodus: Gods and Kings opens Dec. 12.
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Choosing a voice of God is an especially tricky proposition. When DreamWorks Animation made The Prince of Egypt in 1998, some at the studio considered a voice that would morph from man to woman to child, but they abandoned the idea as likely to generate backlash. The job went to Val Kilmer, who also played Moses.
In Exodus, director Ridley Scott has chosen various ways to convey God's communication with Moses, played by Christian Bale. When God speaks directly to Moses, it is through a young boy, Malak, played by 11-year-old Brit Isaac Andrews.
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"Sacred texts give no specific depiction of God, so for centuries artists and filmmakers have had to choose their own visual depiction," Scott tells THR. "Malak exudes innocence and purity, and those two qualities are extremely powerful."
In the film, which cost about $150 million to produce with tax breaks from Spain and the U.K., the boy meets Moses in front of a burning bush. He reappears thereafter to guide and debate Moses, who soon realizes the child is speaking as God.
Rabbi David Baron of the liberal Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills, a consultant on the film, acknowledges that this depiction and others — from the parting of the Red Sea to the plagues — might create controversy.
"They went off the biblical text, but the biblical text was very terse," he says. For him, "anything that will result in people taking a second look at the text and engaging with the Bible" is worthwhile. Noting that Exodus was shot in 3D, Baron adds, "You've never seen locusts swarming like they do in 3D."