Yesterday, the first trailer debuted for director Ridley Scott’s Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. The film certainly looks to be massive in scale with striking visuals, but the overall response was a bit mixed. Some loved what they saw, others were more dubious. Regardless, the pic is shaping up to be one of the biggest of the year, with Christian Bale taking on the role of Moses and Joel Edgerton playing Ramses in Scott’s iteration of the well-worn story. The trailer showed brief glimpses of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, once again teasing the ginormous scale of the pic, and Scott recently took the time to discuss the film in more detail.
Scott admits that this is very likely the largest budgeted film he’s ever worked on, going on to talk about his approach to the pic’s visual palate and extensive visual effects. Read on after the jump.
Speaking with Empire, Scott addressed the scale of Exodus: Gods and Kings:
“Well, in terms of the metaphorical aspects, yes [this is the biggest project I’ve done]. 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.”
One of the more curious aspects of the trailer was the visual aesthetic that Scott settled on. The filmmaker spoke about making the switch to digital filmmaking, and how he’s come to embrace it:
“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 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.”
We saw teases of some of the plagues in the trailer, and Scott revealed that there’s much more to be unveiled in the full film:
“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.”
Finally, the director addressed the film’s title change from Exodus to Exodus: Gods and Kings:
“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.”
While I’m still not sure if this period epic will live up to something like Scott’s director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven, I’m definitely intrigued by what we saw and the trailer and what Scott had to say here (though I’d very much like to hear his thoughts on the pic’s casting). At the very least, it sounds like this thing is going to be absolutely massive. The film opens on December 5th.