Thursday, January 26, 2012

Steven Spielberg to Part Red Sea For Warner Bros?

For the past two decades, Steven Spielberg has - quite openly - been structuring a lot of his directing schedule around the "one for me, one for them" model: frequently Interspeding his high-end "prestige" projects with projects more likely to be tentpole blockbusters (though it's not always a one-to-one ration.)

The next "for them" project (next year's Abe Lincoln biopic being the "for me") is supposed to be "Robopocalypse" - a machine-uprising-against-humanity movie based on Daniel H. Wilson's book - slated for the July 4th weekend of 2013. Now, Deadline reports that he may already be circling another major prestige-entry after that for Warner Bros: "Gods and Kings;" A big-budget  biopic of Moses. Yes, that Moses. Basket in the reeds, Egypt, burning bush, ten plauges, "let my people go!," parting-seas, Ten Commandments, golden calf, the whole nine yards.

The buzzword on this one is "Braveheart-like," which means it's aiming to be a big, straight-faced, action-oriented version of the story; though there's no indication if it'll be a "realistic/historical version" or feature the explicitly-supernatural driving forces as in the original scripture. Either way, I really, REALLY hope he does this...

Obviously, the most famous version of this story in movie terms in the DeMille movie from 1956. It's fashionable to snark at this movie, and not without reason - it's garish, overblown and corny as hell - but those are precisely the reasons why it's one of my favorite "classic" movies: DeMille, for all his myriad issues, was the perfect guy to make what was essentially trying to be a "living" version of the way Exodus was depicted in Rennaissance religious-art. It's the swords-n-sandals "high fantasy" (and I mean no disrespect in either direction by "fantasy") version of The Old Testament; rippling muscles, heaving bosoms, stern declarations of honor and rage, wailing high-pitched emotional breakdowns, thundering orchestral score and God's Wrath visualized through what were then cutting-edge FX.

DeMille's movie - especially the showpiece FX scenes - are SO iconic it would probably be a fool's errand for any present-day filmmaker to try and top them (I would bet on this being a mostly-historical with "subtle" mystical elements for the most part) but if anyone can pull it off it's Spielberg. The real question is: Who plays Moses - or, rather, who wants to stand up to the innevitable comparisons to Charlton Heston giving one of the most culturally-entrenched performances of his (or anyone else's) career?

Oh, and please allow me to weigh in on the obvious Movie Geek question: YES, I absolutely think that when they build the Ark of The Covenant it should totally end up looking just like the version from "Raiders" (bonus points for "Map Room"/"Miracle of The Ark" getting repurposed as "God's Theme") thus making this an Indian Jones prequel. That would be awesome.


Nixou said...

««realistic/historical version»»

What: you mean the version where not yet monotheistic at all Canaanites emigrate back and forth between northern Egypt and modern day Israel depending on the pluviometry, who don't get enslaved, don't leave en masse Egypt with a charismatic leader to guide them, don't wander 40 years in the Sinai, don't conquer Jericho because the whole city has deserted centuries before, gradually turn into monotheistic Jews whose priestdom weave a virtualy completely fictional propaganda account of their migration in order to make the plebs more loyal to the King and high-priests in Jerusalem?

Now that's a movie I'd love to see, if only for the fiery outrage of fundie jews and christians alike.

Then again, turning the Ten Commandments into an Indy prequel is also a very sexy idea: allow me to jump on the Bandwagon

Amethyst said...

Yeah, because movie studios are going to want to sink millions of dollars into a project that's guaranteed to piss off its target audience. Why not just make a movie about Mother Teresa opening a whorehouse instead? At least then you'll have a good chance of attracting a few perverts into the theatre.

I don't care how good Spielberg makes his Moses film. Any Moses film that doesn't have Yul Brynner strutting around and thrusting his exposed-chest, sexy baldness at people isn't worth watching.

Wendy said...

As much as the idea of a remake of such a classic movie makes me balk, the IDEA that they would craft Indiana Jones into it is simply too awesome to pass up.

jojjo said...

There's actually a really funny short story by Swedish writer Göran Hägg about an ancient Judean king and his high priest making up the old testament so they can get more money from pilgrims. I don't think it's been translated though.

Aaron Wrotkowski said...

Timothy Olyphant as Moses.

Taylor said...

Wait, you're saying that a story about water turning into blood isn't supported by archaeology?

I better call my priest and tell him about this gigantic truth bomb you just dropped on us. I don't know how all us fundies are going to recover.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Nixou

Ya know, I've often wondered what evidence there was for that theory beyond pure conjecture.

I mean, we only have a single contemporary account for the battle of Troy which claims the whole ordeal was instigated by the Gods and the only corroborating archeological evidence was the discovery of a city that may have been Troy... yet most historians consider it an actual historical event. That's an inherent issue of most history from that era... we only have a few primary sources with very little surviving archeological evidence.

I'm not suggesting the Torah is completely historical, obviously. But, there would have to be a substantial amount of evidence to consider it entirely fabricated without a surviving conflicting contemporary account.

Nixou said...

there would have to be a substantial amount of evidence to consider it entirely fabricated without a surviving conflicting contemporary account

There are conflicting contemporary accounts: egyptian texts from the time period which describe tentions between immigrants from the levant and the locals, egyptian texts describing what is today's Israel as a province of the Pharaohs empire, there's also archeological evidence showing that the canaanite and judahite cultures where identical in virtually every aspect except the consumption of pork, which demonstrate the falsity of many claims of the Genesis and Exodus: Levantine migrants in Egypt were not Jews (no mention of a monotheistic cult, although they might have been already henotheists), were not slaves (otherwise Egyptian texts would have mentionned a slave revolt, not tensions between immigrants and locals), they did not "flee Egypt" (at most they moved back and forth two provinces), they did not "conquer" Canaan (they were the same culture), nor did slaughter the population (no archeological trace of such a genocide: the most likely is a progressive change of caanaite religious traditions and dietary customs eventually becoming the early jewish culture).

The events described in the last parts of the book of Genesis and the book of Exodus were not entirely fabricated either: migrations between the Levant and Egypt, people of levantine descent reaching positions of power in the court of pharaoh, position of levantine immigrants in egyptians social hierarchy going through ups and downs: these are events which likely happened and are backed by surviving texts and archeological evidence. So it's not a complete fabrication: its more like an exagerated, romanticized, heavily deformed account of stuff which happened.