Things to know about the new epic opening in Ireland this Christmas

1/ EXODUS – GODS AND KINGS

Originally titled ‘Exodus’, the movie received the sub-title ‘Gods & Kings’ because MGM owns the rights to the name ‘Exodus’ from an unrelated movie made in 1960. A Moses biopic titled ‘Gods & Kings’ had already been in the works in 2011 with Steven Spielberg attached but was cancelled before Ridley Scott began his movie.

2/ PLOT
Ridley Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 400,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

3/ GREAT SCOTT
Director Ridley Scott is responsible for some of the biggest movies of all time like ‘Alien’, ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Blade Runner’ but the director keeps raising the bar higher and claims that ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ is the biggest movie he’s ever made “In terms of the metaphorical aspects, yes this is the biggest project I’ve don]. Even budgetarily it’s probably the biggest, yeah. But I didn’t approach it as my biggest. I never do that. I always approach it from the point of view of the characters, of the story.”

4/ BEN KINGSLEY
Oscar winner Ben Kingsley plays the role of Nun in the movie. The actor has a lot of love for the source material, he had previously played the main character of Moses in ‘Moses’ a 1995 TV movie. Then in 2007 he narrated a low-budget computer-animated version of ‘The Ten Commandments’. In addition to that, he also played Potiphar in ‘Joseph’, a 1995 movie about the Old Testament and recently he was said to be interested in the part of King Herod in ‘Mary : Mother Of Christ’.

5/ BIBLICAL STORIES
Making a movie about religious stories from the Bible can prove to be a challenge for many directors, especially one involving a burning bush, numerous plaques and the parting of the Red Sea. Ridley Scott believes being an atheist was a good quality for directing, he told the New York Times “I’ve got to convince myself the story works”.

6/ CHRISTIAN BALE
Christian Bale plays the role of Moses, he was previously asked to play another biblical figure by director Darren Aronofsky, who wanted ‘The Dark Knight’ actor for the title role in his religious movie ‘Noah’, which ultimately went to Ridley Scott collaborator Russell Crowe. Speaking about the role Bale said he had undertaken significant research for the role, reading the Torah, the Koran and Jonathan Kirsch’s life of Moses.

7/ PLAYING MOSES
“You can’t out-Heston Charlton Heston,” joked Christian Bale about taking on ‘The Ten Commandments’ role that defined Heston’s career. Other famous actors to play Moses over the years include Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, Mel Brooks, Try Parker (from South Park) and Snoop Dogg who played Moses in an episode of ‘Epic Rap Battles Of History’.

8/ KEEPING IT REAL
While CGI has been used to extend locations in the movie, Ridley Scott decided to go with the ‘real’ where possible, which meant thousands of extras and an army of animals. “What attracted me to the material is I felt there was a beauty in the massive scale of it,” revealed the director, adding that creating the film was “really difficult” because of its production size. “You’re working with at least 700 crew plus the 4,000 extras and of course the army will be expanded exponentially: 4,000 will be tiled and grown into 20,000. Pretty amazing.”

9/ THE VOICE OF GOD
Ridley Scott cast a British schoolboy as the voice of God, the director told The Hollywood Reporter that ‘sacred texts give no specific depiction of God, so for centuries artists and filmmakers have had to choose their own visual depiction’. 11 Year Old Isaac Andrews appears in the film when Moses is at the burning bush and later to guide the prophet who realizes that God is channeling through the child.

10/ BREAKING BAD
Aaron Paul who played the long-suffering Jesse Pinkman in TV’s ‘Breaking Bad’ plays Joshua, a Hebrew slave who leads the Jews from Egypt. Word on the set is that Aaron didn’t like working with camels and at one stage lost his fake beard and moustache due to retching from the pungent camel smells.

EXODUS : GODS & KINGS is at Irish cinemas from December 26th