Questions to consider when watching the film:
- How did you react to the film’s visuals, especially the effects which were used to create the battles, plagues, and the ancient setting? What did these effects contribute to the story, and to your experience of the film?
- Did anything particularly strike you or surprise you about the film’s portrayal of its historical setting? Does the story’s basis in real history affect your reaction to the film at all? The history behind the story is a matter of some dispute amongst scholars. Some doubt whether such an exodus ever occurred. Many more recognise it as historical but there is some dispute between two different possible dates (and, as a result, which Pharaoh was involved)
- How did you feel about Moses and his relationships with the other characters? What did you feel were the main turning points for Moses’s own emotional journey? How has he changed by the end of the film?
- Why do you think Moses initially holds the view that gods exist, but don’t intervene in human history? What might be appealing about this idea, both to Moses and to people today? How and why does Moses change his mind?
- What might be appealing about a belief that gods are invented by people to fulfil their own needs or desires? How is this idea explored in the film? Is this a good or bad reason for rejecting a belief in God?
- How does Exodus: Gods and Kings explore the idea that ‘those who crave power are the least fitted to exercise it’? What are the consequences of Ramses’ belief that he is a god, and what might this imply about human nature? To what extent do human beings control our own destiny, and to what extent are we subject to forces more powerful than us? The idea of humans as powerful beings in control of our own destiny became prominent in Western thought during the Age of Enlightenment – a cultural movement beginning in the late 17th Century which argued for reason over tradition and paved the way for a belief in scientific endeavour as a replacement for the religious quest.
- How does the film weigh the suffering caused by the plagues against the suffering caused by the actions of Ramses? What questions does it raise about the nature of the God who sent the plagues? What might you want or expect an all-powerful and all-loving God to do in the face of human evil and suffering?
- What was particularly striking or surprising about the portrayal of God in the film? Why do you think the filmmakers chose to represent God in this way? To what extent is it possible to describe or represent God? Many films throughout Hollywood’s history have featured portrayals of God. While some films seek to make the figure of God human and relatable – or even to play him for comic effect – others aim to create a sense of awe and mystery. The challenge faced by filmmakers might cause us all to consider how God might reveal himself to us.
- Why does the film draw out the distinction between ‘fighting’ with God and ‘wrestling’ with God? What is the difference between these and how is this represented by the differences between Ramses and Moses? What might it mean for us, in our own lives, to wrestle with God?