Actor Christian Bale (below), who plays Moses in the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings movie, seems to have ruffled some feathers with his comments about the Biblical figure he’s portraying.
And no wonder, as he’s refreshingly blunt:
In an interview with reporters on Friday, Bale shared his insight into Moses’ character, saying:
“I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life. He’s a very troubled and tumultuous man who fought greatly against God, against his calling.”
Of note is that Bale describes his knowledge, prior to taking on the role, as “below Sunday school.” In preparation for the part, then, he read from the applicable texts of the three Abrahamic faiths, as well as Jonathan Kirsch‘s Moses: A Life. Reading these sources, he came to the conclusion that the characters portrayed — not only Moses, but also God — were “very mercurial.”
At this juncture, one can’t help but recall Isaac Asimov‘s famous musing: “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” This seems a more limited realization of that potency, but certainly in keeping with the sentiment — when approached without significant prior indoctrination, the appalling nature of the story, and its primary characters, cannot but impress a degree of mortification on the reader.
Needless to say, plenty of religious people are less than thrilled at reports of Bale’s comments. The Blaze, for instance, compares the fact that “there will be no consequences” for Bale to the reactions of radical Muslims who kill or incite killing against those who insult Muhammad.
Author Sharona Schwartz doesn’t explicitly state what her intent is with that comparison — Muslims are scary? There should be “consequences” for criticizing religious figures? — but, much like the “you atheists wouldn’t be able to get away with that in Saudi Arabia!” line, you’re left with the feeling that she wants to suggest a little of both: be very afraid of Muslim extremists… and why can’t we have some of that extremism in our own faith?
At any rate, I’m actually quite curious to see how the film tells this story. It’s probably too much to hope that it will unflinchingly depict the mortifying scenarios religion claims as just, but Bale’s comments seem to indicate that we can at least hope for more than abject recitation of Christian myths.