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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ridley Scott's Ferocious Crocodiles

In Ridley Scott's latest epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings," the Biblical plagues unreel like the furious blows of a boxer, one followed rapidly by another. Instead of Moses approaching Pharaoh before each begins, and saying "Now be a good boy, and let God's people go," the plagues pummel the people of Egypt into a daze, confounding Pharoah's most learned advisors. Not until the final plague, the death of the firstborn, does Moses approach the palace to seek the Israelites' release. Pharaoh, as stunned as everyone else, can only wonder at the idea of one last, final plague. Why should he fear it? After all, he's weathered all of them up until now. And if one more comes, it will hurt the Israelites as much as it wounds the Egyptians, right?

The Gators (and Crocs) at Gatorland
come in all sizes and colors.
All are mighty.

Ridley Scott's movie offers us a new look at the events recorded in Exodus, and explores both God and Moses' roles in great depth. Yet at the center of this visually stunning masterpiece lies the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and these begin with crocodiles.

The Nile Crocodile is the second largest reptile on Earth. While its small limbs hamper its progress across land, it scythes easily through water. Propelled by their long tails, Nile Crocodiles swim en masse toward crude wooden fishing vessels, climb on board, and clamp their powerful jaws down on unsuspecting crews. The fishermen try to fight off the crocs, but they are limited to their fragile wooden boats, and they cannot escape the crocs by leaping into the water. So the Nile Crocodiles bite and chew and swallow, and blood pours into the river. Does God order the crocodile attacks on the fishing fleets, this important food source for the Egyptians? Or are other, unknown events responsible for turning the waters of the Nile red? Either way, if you were a frog, you'd want to escape the crimson water, right? 

Unfortunately for them, the frogs don't take so well to their new life out of water, and are killed not only by the Egyptians, but also by the hot, dry conditions on land. So insects arrive, to feed on the bodies, and afflict the Egyptians and their animals. Thus one plague follows another, causes another, naturally leads to another. But all are instigated by one significant if unrecorded event: The Attack of the Mighty Nile Crocodiles!

Sadly, Egypt and some Islamic countries are banning "Exodus: Gods and Kings." Those responsible don't seem to get that the point of a dramatic retelling is to highlight aspects of history and legend in unusual ways, to help modern audiences more readily accept the Biblical narrative. Conversely, many reviewers in the United States don't even get the film, most likely because it doesn't follow the modern trend of totally inverting a classic story, or turning it into an escapist, graphic-novelesque Fantasy. But I loved "Exodus: Gods and Kings," and highly recommend it to everyone. With my apologizes to the Egyptian fishermen, I particularly liked the logic and power behind the attack of the Nile Crocodiles. 

But then, I'm just a Gator-lovin' guy, I guess. As long as I'm not fishing in the Nile.

Dragon Dave

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