Critics Claim ‘Moses’ was Scrubbed from Movie Title to Appease Communist Regime

SAN SEBASTIAN FILM FESTIVAL/KENZABURO FUKUHARA/AFP via Getty Images
SAN SEBASTIAN FILM FESTIVAL/KENZABURO FUKUHARA/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese film Moses on the Plain had the word Moses deleted from its title in a move the critics say was to appease the notoriously anti-religion communist regime.

The film, which was recently released in China, is now called Fire on the Plain. During the film’s red-carpet debut in China, director Zhang Ji claimed that the title was changed at the last minute because “we use a lot of fire as an element.” He added, “I hope that we can use fire to connect different time and space, emotions, and that it can shine into our lives,” Radio Free Asia reported.

The film is an adaptation of a Chinese novel entitled Moses on the Plain, which follows the reopening of a 12-year-old, cold case investigation into the murder of a taxi driver. The investigation causes a young detective to suspect a man and his daughter whom he knew as a young man. But the detective is soon shocked to discover that he himself may have been an unknown participant in the murder of the driver 12 years prior.

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Critics, though, suspect that there is a more logical reason for why “Moses” was dropped from the film title, which is to avoid censure by the anti-religion state government in Beijing.

Father Francis Liu of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, for one, said that the religious figure of Moses is too closely connected to the Bible and both the Christian and Jewish faiths.

“Moses is not only a biblical name, but also a national hero of the Israelites. Are the authorities afraid of the positive significance of this name? For example, he once led the Israelites to resist Egyptian tyranny and strive for national freedom and liberation,” Liu told Radio Free Asia, according to FaithWire.com.

Father Liu also warned that the Chinese risk becoming a closed society if they continue to crack down on entertainment this way.

“If a Biblical name like Moses can be excluded, I suspect such a move would be extended to churches and religious groups. How could they have Michelangelo’s David or Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper? If the Chinese government aims to expand such oppression, China will become a country like extremely closed North Korea or the Cultural Revolution era of Mao Zedong,” he said.

The Communist Chinese regime claims to officially recognize only five religions: Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, and Taoism. However, each of these churches are tightly controlled by government officials, not religious leaders. And the atmosphere for Christians is particularly fraught. The US-based NGO Open Doors recently published its World Watch List that found China as 17th among 50 countries where Christians face severe oppression.

Regardless, what ever reason goaded the name change, it was sudden. In all the press for the film, from when its production was first announced last year to September 20 of this year when the film was set to debut at the Beijing Film Festival, it was titled Moses on the Plain.

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