• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Monday, November 26, 2007

    DVD Release for Exodus
    Plus a Few Additional Thoughts

    A week after its TV première, Penny Woolcock's Exodus has been released on DVD. TV DVDs do have a fairly swift turnaround these days and, I suppose, for one off programmes such as this it must make the most of the marketing opportunities, especially with Christmas just around the corner.

    When I first heard about this film being released onto DVD I had hoped it would contain some of the other films that had been made as part of the Margate Exodus project, and it looks like my wish has been granted. The main one I was hoping for was The Waste Man documentary - a 24 minute film looking at the making of and burning of Antony Gormley’s Waste Man sculpture that appears in the film. It aired on Channel 4 on 2nd Dec. last year. Curiously though it showed much earlier than the actual Exodus film.

    The other main feature, at least according to the official website's Latest News is that it will also feature a "Making of" documentary. I've not had a copy of the actual DVD so I can't comment much further, but the print of the film on the screener DVD that was sent out is probably the same one that will appear on the retail DVD, and it was pretty good.Now a couple of additional thoughts on the actual film. Firstly, (spoilers) the way the film handles the supernatural is quite interesting. At first it appears that the film will affirm the supernatural. Moses hears a voice during the burning of Jethro's funeral pyre telling him to lead his people to freedom. At around the same time we see the first of several "visions" that are experienced by Dada - a street child who appears to be mute. However, as the film progresses the voice that Moses hears fails to return, leaving Moses himself to choose his own horrific tactics.

    Yet Dada's vision's continue. He has four in total: Golden light bathe Moses as he showers; Jethro re-awakening while the residents of Dreamland pick through the ashes of his pyre; one I can't quite remember (to be added in later!); and Moses parting the Red Sea. However, as these visions continue it gradually becomes clear that these visions do not appear to be flashes of the supernatural but only the solvent induced hallucinations of a lost and disturbed child.In other words the only incident in the film that suggests the presence of God in the film (other than, perhaps, divine providence in Moses mother placing her son at the feet of Pharaoh's wife) is the voice Moses hears, which is, of course, open to a vast number of interpretations. It also suggests that the original Moses also only heard God, at best, vaguely, and perhaps not at all.

    The other minor point I wished to make was one regarding casting. Claire Ashitey-Smith appears here as Moses's wife Zipporah. Of course her biggest role to date was as the pregnant Kee in last year's Children of Men (my review). That film had been released after this one was made, but it's an interesting choice nevertheless as both roles are effectively re-contextualised biblical mothers.

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