Swords, Sandals And Scale On The Set Of Exodus: Gods and Kings
Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton battle it out in Ridley Scott’s forthcoming biblical blockbuster...
Almeria, Spain is host to Europe’s only desert, and, for now at least, the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.
MTV is on the set of director Ridley Scott’s forthcoming biblical blockbuster Exodus: Gods and Kings, a movie which takes place on a scale unseen in modern cinema.
As Set Designer and long-time Scott collaborator Arthur Max says, “Take Gladiator, Kingdom Of Heaven and Robin Hood - put them all together and they're still nowhere near as big as this.
“The scale is big, epic, because we want to do justice to the scale of the biblical story, and really pull the audience in.”
The film tells the biblical tale of how Moses (Christian Bale) falls out with his former ‘brother’, Rhamses (Joel Edgerton), before attempting to lead Egypt’s Hebrew slaves to salvation in the Promised Land.
The scene MTV gets to watch being filmed takes place early on in the story when Moses and Rhamses are still fighting on the same side. The Hittites - the enemies of the Egyptians and their closest neighbours - are gathering on the border with Egypt and Rhamases’ father, Pharaoh Seti I, has decided to stage a pre-emptive strike against them.
Smoke hangs heavy in the air as scores of extras cheer on the Egyptian army as they head out to war, led by Rhamses and Moses in horse-drawn chariots.
It’s certainly an impressive spectacle, with Edgerton bedecked in an imposing gold-plated outfit and cloak and Bale a stern-faced, leather-clad warrior - not to mention the cavalry and footmen who follow in their wake.
The army hurtle through the gate out of the city before pulling up suddenly as soon as they are out of shot due to the narrowing lane on the other side. There then follows a long and complicated procedure to bring everyone back and reset for the next take – as apparently you can’t just throw horses into reverse.
Once Scott is happy, the scene is reshot with the army returning back through the gate into the city following the battle, tired and bloodied but triumphant.
Exodus: Gods And Kings is a bone-fide, old school style epic, on a scale not seen since the days of The Ten Commandments or Ben-Hur.
While CGI has been used to extend the locations, Scott and his team have deliberately chosen to go with the ‘real’ wherever possible – which means over 15,000 extras and a whole menagerie of animals, as Edgerton explains:
"Yeah - Ridley doesn't do things small! You'll go to film a scene which is written quite simply, like 'the generals are all talking about the battle', but then there'll be a cheetah, and an eagle behind my throne.
“There's always an animal around somewhere. Snakes, horses everywhere, frogs, camels... there were some elephants here the other day but they misbehaved so they were sent home!”
Co-star Aaron Paul, who plays Hebrew slave Joshua, is as impressed as the rest of us by the enormity of the project, saying:
“It's like nothing I've ever seen before... I'm used to doing small little independent passion projects, but this is completely different - it's such a huge scale.
“I've been doing this for several weeks now but every time I walk on set I'm still completely mesmerised. When Ridley does something he does it very big.
“It's controlled chaos. I don't know how they complete anything but they do it, every single day.”
Exodus: Gods And Kings charges into cinemas beginning this December.