A Preview of Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings Shows the Grand Scale of His Biblical Epic

The presentation was made up of 11 clips interspersed with Sir Ridley introducing each of them and giving them context within the larger story. If you know the original Old Testament story on which it’s based or seen Cecile B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, then a lot of this will sound familiar.

One thing that was immediately noticeable was the huge scope of the film with immense aerial tracking shots that establish Egypt during that era and other key locations. The footage we saw featured many different landmarks, including the Sphinx and the Pyramids which are in the process of being built.

The first clip introduced us to Bale’s Moses and Edgerton’s Ramses, two men who were raised like brothers, and they’re consulting with some sort of soothsayer or High Priestess who has killed a chicken and is using its blood to see their future. She tells them that a leader will be saved and his savior will become leader, which is something we will see later. The two men then meet with Seti (John Turturro), who presents to them two gilded swords to commemorate their brotherhood. At first, Ramses thinks that he was given Moses’ sword and vice versa, but Seti insists that was the intention to make sure that they’ll each keep the other one safe during the upcoming battle. It was actually surprising to see John Turturro in this kind of role, because the closest he’s been to a period piece were movies like the Coens’ Miller’s Crossing. I actually didn’t recognize him right away, not until the scene where he’s sending Moses and Ramses off to war, each in their own chariot. At this point, we’re already seeing the jealousy that’s arising in Ramses towards his “brother” and Edgerton certainly looks very different with his head shaved to make him look more like Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments.

This extended clip, which was the longest of the ones shown, led into a huge battle sequence between the Moses and Ramses-led Egyptian army and the Hittites, in which Ramses runs into trouble when his chariot is overturned and he’s about to be run over by another horse-led chariot before Moses throws his spear to protect him. Moses orders Ramses to be taken to safety and he jumps into the chariot as it races away from the immense battle behind them.

We also see a brief scene between Moses with a character played by Ben Mendelsohn wearing a lot of make-up as some sort of librarian or banker who seems to be enjoying a life of luxury that he’s been called on about, and he seems to make a sexual pass at Moses to try to keep him from taking away his accumulated wealth.

The next clip shows Moses first meeting Sir Ben Kingsley’s Nun, who is one of the Hebrews who has been living in slavery under Ramses and he opens Moses’ eyes to what is going on. (It’s pretty amusing that Sir Ben Kingsley plays a wise Hebrew in this movie but then plays the Pharaoh in Fox’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which opens just one week later.)

When Moses visits the camp where the slaves are kept, he sees one of them being whipped by an Egyptian overseer but he seems to be smiling. When Moses asks why he’s smiling, the man brandishing the whip tells him that his victim doesn’t feel the sting of the whip, so Moses questions why he’s whipping him. He meets with Nun, who tells Moses that he was actually born a Hebrew himself and that it’s prophesized that he’ll lead his people to Canaan.

There are spies in the Hebrew camp who overhear Nun telling Moses of his actual heritage and that’s gotten back to Ramses, who confronts Moses and Miriam (Indira Varma) to reveal the truth about Moses’ lineage and the fact that Miriam is in fact his sister. He orders Miriam to put her arm on the table and he takes out his sword as he continues his interrogation. In the background, an older woman (we’re not sure whether it was Sigourney Weaver’s Tuya, Ramses’ mother, or Hiam Abbass as Moses’ adoptive mother Bithiah) is trying to stop Ramses’ madness but he proceeds and when he asks Miriam if she is really Moses sister and she responds, “No,” he violently brings his sword down to chop her arm off but is interceded by Moses’ own sword as he admits that everything Ramses suspects is true.

The next clips shows Moses being sent off to exile as he says goodbye to Miriam, who tells him she was the one who hid him as a baby in the rushes, and Bithiah, who calls him by his Hebrew name of Moshe.

Sir Ridley introduced the next clip, talking about how Moses had been exiled to Midian where he would meet his wife Sefora, played by Maria Valverde, and we see them being married and their wedding night when they’re exchanging their own personal vows.

The next clip shows Moses returning to Egypt to confront Ramses about the way he’s been treating the slaves, essentially Moses’ people, and demands that he stops and lets them go, because if he doesn’t, God will send his vengeance on the entire city.

The next two clips show some of the plagues that God sends down on Ramses and Egypt, the first one of them opening on a shot of a dead fish floating on a river of blood, which the camera pans back to show it’s the Nile River which is absolutely covered in dead fish. We see the High Priestess from earlier trying to rid the Nile of this pestilence, making it sound like it won’t be too hard, but she doesn’t have much luck. We also see Moses and another walking through a field to the river, seeing that the bloody waters are also killing all the crops.

The next clip shows the river full of dead fish again but now a lot of small frogs are coming out from the water and pouring onto the land and attacking the people, including one scene where a sleeping woman is covered from head to toe in the tiny frogs. Things are starting to die from the lack of water and the plague of frogs and that leads to a plague of flies that are making the rest of the food inedible as well as swarming all over the villagers and going into their mouths. If that’s not bad enough, the people of Egypt are then subjected to the plague of locusts, which is just as bad, and that’s just four of the plagues, which are depicted in a horrifyingly realistic way.

With the entire city devastated by the plagues, Moses returns to Ramses and beseeches that he releases the slaves before it’s too late. While it’s not said implicitly, we can figure that next up is the killing of the first born, including Ramses’ own son.

Apparently it works, because the second to last clip shows Ramses leading his army in chariots along a narrow roadway on the side of a mountain as they chase after Moses and the freed slaves. One of the chariots starts running into problems and falls over the edge, followed by another and another and soon, the entire side of the mountain is sliding downwards in an avalanche taking down most of Ramses’ army. He looks on in horror from the front of the line but he tells his men to continue onwards despite

The final clip showed a section of Moses leading his people across the bed of the Red Sea with Ramses and the remainder of the Egyptian army close behind. While we didn’t see the actual parting of the sea or the crashing of the waves over the pursuing army, we do see some kind of cyclone forming in the distance that looks pretty menacing.

This was followed by the newest trailer for the movie which shows a few moments from the clips we mentioned but also a few other things that we didn’t see like the plague of hail and the actual Red Sea waters flooding towards the Egyptians, which looks like it will be a spectacular scene.

Exodus: Gods and Kings looks like a fairly faithful translation of the Old Testament story, but it also will allow Ridley Scott to do some of the epic battle sequences we’ve seen from him in movies like Robin Hood, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven. It seems to be a fairly safe bet that it will do well at the box office, and we’ll have to see if it’s embraced by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences or other awards-giving groups or not. (Incidentally, DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, which has aired almost every Easter since movies were shown on television, only won one of the seven Oscars it was nominated for, and that was for special effects.)

Exodus: Gods and Kings opens in theaters on December 12.