Ridley Scott's 'Exodus' Controversy: Will Race of Cast Members Spark Tension?

Louis KahnMar 21, 2014 11:41 AM EDT

The new film 'Exodus' will feature a star studded cast of highly esteemed actors led by Christian Bale as Moses. It will cover the story of the ancient trials of the Hebrew people and the covenant formed by God with Moses that is the pretext for the entire biblical narrative of the Old Testament. The movie will show the grander arc of the book of Exodus which pitted the Egyptian Pharaoh against the oppressed Jewish people, but will the decision to go forward with a primarily Caucasian cast promote controversy over the white washing of historical dramas containing peoples of non-European ancestry?

Among the cast members are Aaron Paul and Ben Kingsley. Paul, recently released from a five year run on the immensely popular "Breaking Bad" is to play Joshua, one of Moses' followers, and presumably the same Joshua who leads the Jews to the Promised Land after Moses dies. Kingsley will play a learned Hebrew Scholar. But neither of these men are of a Semitic genealogy. Aaron Paul is of English, German, and Scottish ancestry, while Christian Bale, the film's lead, is an Englishman and son of two totally English parents. This would seem to lend him no genetic leeway to playing a prince of Egypt.

Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, and Joel Edgerton play the Royal Family, Tuya, Seti and Ramses. Archaeologists still have no definite basis to point to one particular race of the Egyptian people, but common belief holds that the Egyptians were not 'white' in the European sense that we know it today.

While we can't say for certain how audiences will react, we know that this cast is made up of veteran actors with high acclaim that are known to be mutable to a variety of roles. Can we trust that this will be a respectful depiction of one of the most contemplated stories of all time? How will their performances measure up to the high expectations from religious audiences? Exodus will hit theaters on December 12th, 2014, so many eager viewers will have to wait until then.   



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