By Mark Ellis
Some Christian movie-goers and film reviewers have criticized the Exodus movie’s choice to portray God as an 11-year-old boy, but one noted Christian film critic defends the filmmakers on this point.
“We know from Colossians 1:9 that Jesus Christ is the only visible manifestation of the invisible God,” notes Dr. Ted Baehr, the founder of Movieguide. “We know Jesus came as a baby and grew up during that period,” he notes.
In Baehr’s view, any age between babyhood and 33 – the age Jesus was crucified and resurrected, would be a fair representation for God. “I don’t think that’s a theological issue,” he maintains.
“What I do think is a theological issue is when you have George Burns playing God. We probably don’t have an octogenarian God floating around with a long beard.”
Chris Stone, the founder of Faith Driven Consumer holds a different view. “The portrayal of God as a willful, angry and petulant child in Exodus will be a deal breaker for most people of faith around the world. Christians, Jews and Muslims alike see this story as foundational and will find this false portrayal and image of God to be deeply incompatible both with scripture and their deeply-held beliefs.”
Director Ridley Scott defended his choice of Isaac Andrews to play Malak (God). “Sacred texts give no specific depiction of God, so for centuries artists and filmmakers have had to choose their own visual depiction,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Malak exudes innocence and purity, and those two qualities are extremely powerful.”
Baehr sets the bar relatively low for Hollywood’s attempts at biblical accuracy. “When Hollywood makes a movie they want to make it bigger and better,” he says. “The problem is not the special effects. The problem is how did the drama hold together? It didn’t hold together as well as it should.”
His Movieguide review gives Exodus: Gods and Kings three out of four stars. “Dramatically, it has a lot of weak points,” Baehr says. “I have referred to it as the Cliff Notes or the comic book version of Exodus. It’s a little silly in places – it’s gloriously junky.”
Still, Baehr wants to support films of this genre. “If it’s not against us – if God is the hero – we have to cut it some slack for what it is. We have to discriminate between this and something that is blasphemous like The Last Temptation of Christ or The DaVinci Code.”