For the past two decades, Steven Spielberg has – quite openly – been structuring a lot of his directing schedule around the “one for me, one for them” model: frequently Interspeding his high-end “prestige” projects with projects more likely to be tentpole blockbusters (though it’s not always a one-to-one ration.)
The next “for them” project (next year’s Abe Lincoln biopic being the “for me”) is supposed to be “Robopocalypse” – a machine-uprising-against-humanity movie based on Daniel H. Wilson’s book – slated for the July 4th weekend of 2013. Now, Deadline reports that he may already be circling another major prestige-entry after that for Warner Bros: “Gods and Kings;” A big-budget biopic of Moses. Yes, that Moses. Basket in the reeds, Egypt, burning bush, ten plauges, “let my people go!,” parting-seas, Ten Commandments, golden calf, the whole nine yards.
The buzzword on this one is “Braveheart-like,” which means it’s aiming to be a big, straight-faced, action-oriented version of the story; though there’s no indication if it’ll be a “realistic/historical version” or feature the explicitly-supernatural driving forces as in the original scripture. Either way, I really, REALLY hope he does this…
Obviously, the most famous version of this story in movie terms in the DeMille movie from 1956. It’s fashionable to snark at this movie, and not without reason – it’s garish, overblown and corny as hell – but those are precisely the reasons why it’s one of my favorite “classic” movies: DeMille, for all his myriad issues, was the perfect guy to make what was essentially trying to be a “living” version of the way Exodus was depicted in Rennaissance religious-art. It’s the swords-n-sandals “high fantasy” (and I mean no disrespect in either direction by “fantasy”) version of The Old Testament; rippling muscles, heaving bosoms, stern declarations of honor and rage, wailing high-pitched emotional breakdowns, thundering orchestral score and God’s Wrath visualized through what were then cutting-edge FX.
DeMille’s movie – especially the showpiece FX scenes – are SO iconic it would probably be a fool’s errand for any present-day filmmaker to try and top them (I would bet on this being a mostly-historical with “subtle” mystical elements for the most part) but if anyone can pull it off it’s Spielberg. The real question is: Who plays Moses – or, rather, who wants to stand up to the innevitable comparisons to Charlton Heston giving one of the most culturally-entrenched performances of his (or anyone else’s) career?
Oh, and please allow me to weigh in on the obvious Movie Geek question: YES, I absolutely think that when they build the Ark of The Covenant it should totally end up looking just like the version from “Raiders” (bonus points for “Map Room”/”Miracle of The Ark” getting repurposed as “God’s Theme”) thus making this an Indian Jones prequel. That would be awesome.