Exodus: Gods And Kings: Ridley Scott’s Trailer Breakdown

The director talks us through his enormous Biblical epic

Exodus: Gods And Kings

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In a career littered with huge films - Gladiator, 1492, Prometheus - Exodus: Gods And Kings may be Ridley Scott's biggest yet. A retelling of the Biblical story of Moses and his quest to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, it's the sort of story that usually demands Charlton Heston and a cast of thousands. Happily, Scott has Christian Bale, Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley and Aaron Paul, and, yes, a cast of thousands more. We asked him to talk us through some of the big moments in the trailer...

Exodus: Gods And Kings

Scott has, of course, got one or two rather large movies under his belt by now, but is Exodus: Gods And Kings, with its eternal themes played out on its vast canvas, the biggest he has ever done? "Well, in terms of the metaphorical aspects, yes. Even budgetarily it's probably the biggest, yeah. But I didn't approach it as my biggest. I never do that. I always approach it from the point of view of the characters, of the story. I never realised Gladiator was going to be quite as large in terms of its scope and yet it was a very small, personal story. A revenge. A simple revenge into which we had jigsawed some characters.

"But in this one the characters are conventionally historic. There have always been discussions about Moses. Was he in fact one of the princes of Egypt? I've accepted the conventional story on the origin of Moses. As I do more and more movies I get more and more centralised on the characterisation. This is a challenge because you are dealing with a very, very delicate subject. It's like politics - you don't necessarily want to talk about it because it's very personal."

Exodus: Gods And Kings

Even for a man rightly revered for his visuals, this trailer gives a clear indication of the scale of the movie, as well as it's strikingly immersive world. Certainly, we are light years away from Charlton Heston... "I went digital really late in the day, maybe even later than Steven (Spielberg). I was one of the diehards who said they couldn't possibly go to push-button technology without really realising that it actually works like a son of a bitch. It gets you what you want and you can control it. Outside of digital the whole thing depends on so many other factors. How many prints have been run off it and so forth. On this, when you press a button it's the same.

"I always lean a lot towards this clean, clean image, which may have changed a lot since I did The Duellists. I never used filters. People always thought I used filters. I didn't. It was mostly the light, the beautiful light. It was always beautifully lit. In The Duellists it was always raining. 53 days of bloody rain. And that's the best filter you can possibly have.

"But I like the clarity of this world. It's a world we've done a few times in the past few years and the early Hollywood films did a good job, but I think we are in a position to do a better job now, because we don't have to build so much. We can go immense with relative ease and confidence. This is not going to look like a matte painting."

Exodus: Gods And Kings

Of the many plagues that will feature in Exodus: Gods And Kings, this first trailer gives us a glimpse of just some: the locusts, the hail stones, the rivers of blood. There are more to come.

"I've held back a bit - wait till you see the movie. You must never oversell yourself. You've got to wait till you're three weeks out, then you go for it. This is a big movie. 1300 effects shots is a lot. Not compared to something like Star Wars, sure, but we're not 'effecty' in that sense of the word. One of the things that has come off really well is the reality of the characters. You wouldn't call it an effects film even though in many ways a lot of what was needed is extraordinary. There were things I couldn't build. But in today's world the effects are so good that it looks real, effectively.

"You've just got to have a vision of what you want to do. After that I really get into digitally drawing until I get the picture right. Literally physically drawing digital animation until it becomes real. The hardest thing to do on this movie for me would be the crocodiles. They have to be absolutely real. That sequence is one of the first things up in the movie and I'll be flat, I'll be dead in the water, if they don't come off."

Exodus: Gods And Kings

The haunting music that plays over this trailer is a riff on Simple Minds' 'Belfast Child', which itself took inspiration from Irish folk song 'She Moved Through The Fair'. But Scott claims it has no symbolic relevance; just an artistic one.

"Yes, it's an Irish riff. It's completely illogical. It comes out of the blue. And because it feels modern it somehow gives you lift off. No relevance. It just works. I still think advertising is a knee jerk thing. Once you've got the attention you've got them, haven't you?"

Exodus: Gods And Kings

As for the movie's title change (it was originally just called Exodus), Scott seems happy in hindsight to have been forced down a new route.

"Honestly, to be truthful, we'd have liked to just call this Exodus, but that was owned and nobody would give it up, so I had to use Gods And Kings. But I don't mind Gods And Kings, because in effect that's what we're dealing with: a society who at one stage believed in the idea of over a thousand gods, which is of course hard to believe."

Exodus: Gods And Kings

The trailer, of course, could only really end in one way: with our first glimpse of Ridley Scott's parting of the Red Sea. The result is stunning - Scott framing a bucking riderless horse at the centre of the oncoming tide.

"That sequence probably took more time than any other on this movie. We were mucking around on this beach, 11 miles of it, for days. It had mountain ranges behind it. That was the trickiest thing. I had to prepare plates on the assumption of the sea going back and then returning. As for the riderless horse, that was me, just mucking about.

"I wanted the horse because I want to show early on how big the wave is. It's riderless because it has escaped and run off. I'm sure many animals escaped. And I wanted to show the wave but also not really show it... The white horse is tiny, and I wanted to show it galloping to what you think is sky... Then you realise, oh my God, it's moving... That’s not sky! That worked, didn't it?"


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