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Faced with a ban that was keeping his latest historical drama out of important movie theaters, Sir Ridley Scott had a difficult choice: Leave Exodus: Gods and Kings the way that it is, or remove some of the things that officials found offensive. He opted for the latter.
As we reported earlier, select international movie theaters were banning Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the Old Testament because they believed the film was riddled with "historical inaccuracies." Well, riddled might be too intense of a word, because it turns out all Scott had to remove from the film were two lines of dialogue that THR reports had to do with the depiction of God on screen. Scott reportedly agreed to remove those lines, and the film will now make its way to theaters -- in Morocco, at least.
In a statement, 20th Century Fox and Sir Ridley Scott clarified that, after courteous conversations with the Morocco Cinematography Center, all parties "[agreed] on an exceptional basis to accept these reservations and make requested adjustments, namely the removal of two sound extracts with references to the Divine personification."
In the film, Ridley Scott chooses to personify God as an 11-year-old boy (actor Isaac Andrews) – often, a petulant, angry and disappointed boy who delivers stern messages and warnings to Moses, played by Christian Bale. In a separate interview with THR, the director explained his motivations for this creative decision, saying:
Sacred texts give no specific depiction of God, so for centuries artists and filmmakers have had to choose their own visual depiction. [My character] exudes innocence and purity, and those two qualities are extremely powerful."
Several Middle Eastern officials disagreed, which helps explain some of the resistance Exodus: Gods and Kings faced as it attempted to roll out. Not that the film has been dying on the vine. So far, Exodus has banked $141 million overseas, compared to $61.6M in the States. Its global tally is $203 million against a reported $140 million budget.
The irony of this situation has to be that Sir Ridley Scott rarely edits his films just once. This is a man who has at least five versions of his masterpiece, Blade Runner. And he has gone on record to say that his initial cut of Exodus ran four hours long. But I can’t think of an example of Scott editing one of his films while it was still in theaters! That’s a first.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is probably still playing at a theater near you.