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A great story, but bloated and containing some cinematic flaws.
on 27 February 2016
A beautiful Blu Ray transfer. Colours are rich and vibrant, detail is startlingly clear and well focused.
The story is divided into two essential acts, the first part deals with the upbringing of Moses and the political context of the time he lived, as a member of royalty Moses is privileged and wealthy though not also unkind or wicked. Several supporting characters are introduced, including the all powerful Pharaoh, Moses's adoptive mother, his adoptive brother the cruel Ramses, a love interest and a young Jewish Slave called Joshua. During much character development Moses learns more of his Hebrew past and begins to detest the system that has enslaved his people. Rameses on the other hand develops to become only more controlling and unjust, tensions reach a head when Moses kills a man about to whip a slave to death, his punishment - exile and the loss of a chance ever to be king. After further hardship Moses settles with a local Jewish tribe in the wilderness after impressing them with his bravery, he finds peace among it's simple rustic life, as well as further happiness in marriage to the daughter of a tribal chief. By this point he has come a long way from the beginning of the story. I adored the first part of this film, especially for the rich interaction between the different characters and the dynamics they have, as well as the character development they all undergo
The second part deals with Moses encounter with God which set him on a mission to lead the Jewish people back away from captivity in Egypt. Moses's encounters with God change him both physically and psychologically. He becomes stern, fanatical, almost a zealot in parts. The battle of wills between him and Ramses plays out as Egypt is subjected to one kind of plague after another. There are moments when Moses is portrayed quite unsympathetically unlike in Ben Hur, Charlton Heston's other epic released just a couple of years before. Moses is certainly no Jesus, death comes several times to those who oppose his commands, though he makes it clear, as many extremists do, that he is not carrying out his own will but that of God's. Some of the special effects leave a little to be desired in the second part, especially God's voice which sounded muffled and weak, his manifestation as the pillar of fire also looked far from impressive, though the mist of death looked genuinely nightmarish. Moses is eventually able to secure the Jewish people their freedom and defeat his nemesis Ramses, only to have his own people nearly betray their commitment to God, leading to further violence. In this film Pharaohs pursuit of Moses is motivated largely out of revenge for his only son, something most audience members could probably understand, unfortunately just before the showdown takes place, our villain is starting to feel a lot less villainous while Moses our protagonist seems to have lost all of his softer more human qualities.
The film wraps up 40 years later with a very old Moses literally passing the staff onto Joshua to continue his work.
Running time nearly 4 hours.