Egypt has banned Ridley Scott’s film “Exodus: Gods and Kings” on the grounds that the film is historically inaccurate.
The $140m Hollywood film is based on the book of Exodus from the Bible, which tells the story of how Moses led the Jews out of Egypt by parting the Red Sea.
Egypt’s Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying the film was offensive because of its false portrayal of Moses, and the belief that the Jews built the pyramids.
“The movie was banned due to [its]… falsification of the history,” said Mohammed Boghdady, the Media Advisor of Egypt’s Ministry of Culture. “It depicts the Prophet Moses as the head of Aaron’s army, not as a messenger from God, as well as the God in the shape of a little kid Moses asks for help.”
Boghdady added that “the movie shows the Jews as the original builders of the pyramids, and that’s the furthest thing from reality”. The pyramids are said to have been built around 2540 BC, almost 500 years before Abraham’s time.
Boghdady, in line with Asfour’s reasoning, said that the Zionist movement that produced the movie wants to send the message that Jews are “God’s chosen people”.
Tarek El-Shenawy, a prominent art critic in Egypt, said: “The government claims the banning is due to historical mistakes, while they’re afraid to say it’s avoiding a clash with Al-Azhar, which insists on not previewing any prophets on screen.”
Earlier this year, Darren Aronofsky’s film “Noah” came under fire from the Islamic Institution Al-Azhar. The decision to ban the film rested on a fatwa from 1926, which outlaws depictions of any prophets.
“10 years ago, the ‘Passion of the Christ’ movie was shown in theatres and it had so many historical mistakes in it, yet no one moved a finger. It all goes with what the regime wants,” El-Shenawy says.
The film “Exodus” found itself in hot water earlier this year, because of its lack of diversity in the cast. Despite the film taking place in Ancient Egypt, all the lead roles were performed by white actors. Christian Bale plays Moses, while Joel Edgerton stars as Pharaoh Ramses and Sigourney Weaver plays Queen Tuya.
Ridley Scott, the film’s director and producer, responded to the criticism by telling Variety magazine in a an interview: “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such… I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”
“Exodus” is also reportedly banned in Morocco.