Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings has been receiving quite a bit of criticism recently, and not just because it’s a terrible title for a film. A number of bloggers and tweeters have remarked upon the rather odd casting choices behind almost all the main characters. Those ancient Egyptians seem to be awfully…white.
The controversy comes down to a uniformly white cast in the front lines of Exodus: Gods and Kings, while black actors were cast (again, almost uniformly) as slaves or servants. Ridley Scott does not see much of a problem with the casting, though, as he told Australian Yahoo (via The Film Stage):
Egypt was – as it is now – a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs. There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussions about how to best represent the culture.
OK, Mr. Scott, that’s fair enough, if that’s actually what you did. But you cast Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, and Aaron Paul as the ruling classes in this film, while almost all of the slaves are played by black actors. That does not seem very diverse to me.
Exodus: Gods and Kings comes on the heels of another white-washed Biblical epic, Aronofsky’s Noah, in which we learned that white people founded all of humanity. While this might have been passable in the 1950s, when Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner represented diversity on the American screen in The Ten Commandments, one would hope that directors might be a bit more sensitive to casting choices in 2014. That neither Scott nor Aronofsky will even seriously address this issue beyond claiming diversity where there is none seems a very disturbing trend right now.
If you want to really understand just how diverse the cast of Exodus: Gods and Kings truly look, check out the latest group of images from the film below. I certainly believe that Joel Edgerton looks all ancient Egyptian, don’t you?
Source: The Film Stage