Okay, some of you are going to love this movie, and others ... well, 'utterly despise', would probably be an appropriate way of putting things. Gods of Egypt is a Hollywood epic and potential blockbuster, due for release in February 2016, and looks to be based loosely around the war between Horus and Seth.
The trailer shows what looks to be a preposterously over-the-top CGI-fest, but its biggest elephant in the room – one for which the director and studio have already profusely apologised for – is its complete 'whitewashing' of the cast.
It's suffering the same criticism that Exodus: Gods and Kings did a year ago, in that none of the cast looks like they've hailed from Egypt. It's a point that I have no choice but to agree with.
I'm not going to wade into the emotive subject of race, but suffice to say that the ancient Egyptians were north African, and most unlikely to look much like Gerard Butler or Brenton Thwaites. And I think that Ridley Scott's reason when challenged about the casting of Exodus: Gods and Kings says it all about the attitudes of the industry:
“I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such ... I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”
Lionsgate (the studio producing Gods of Egypt) is a little more humble, however:
“We recognise that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologise. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.”
What do you think?
Do you think it matters if historic cultures and events are represented accurately in movies? Especially in movies such as Gods of Egypt, which is set completely in the realms of fantasy anyway. Are movies here purely for escapism and entertainment, or should there be an element of education wherever possible?
Ridley Scott's comment suggests that the industry's hands are tied by what the paying audience are willing to fork out their hard-earned cash to see. Is this right? Do you think it should be the responsibility of the film makers to lead the way and force accuracy upon their audience? Or should the impetus come from the audience to demand accuracy from the film makers?
And while you're having a think about that, I'll leave you with this picture. It's a facsimile painting from the tomb chapel of Anen (18th Dynasty, Luxor) with some very typical depictions of people from other countries, both north and south of Egypt.
- Gods of Egypt director and studio apologise for lack of diversity, on The Guardian (30 November 2015)
- Based on this ridiculous trailer, Gods Of Egypt might be the best/dumbest movie ever, on A.V. Club (17 November 2015)
- Gods of Egypt posters spark anger with 'whitewashed' cast, on The Guardian (13 November 2015)
- Christian Bale defends Ridley Scott over Exodus ‘whitewashing’, on The Guardian (9 December 2014)