Some otherwise normal people don’t see the need for heroes in their life. They can even become hostile and sardonic when confronted with the fact that most people celebrate heroism. I won’t name names, but I know there are some of these Lone Rangers here at Epinions for I’ve read several of their opinions trashing popular movies with heroes such as Gladiator. I am quite sure these heroless harbingers of cynicism would hate Cecille B. DeMille’s Biblical epic, The Ten Commandments, as well.
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Both of these movies have larger-than-life characters with a sense of ‘strength and honor,’ justice, the desperate need of freedom for themselves and others around them. They cater to most people’s desire for heroes to esteem. Heroes that give them hope that the impossible can be attained, justice can prevail and the world still has ideals that make them proud and either feel nostalgic or spiritual.
So which kind of person are you? If you’re of the latter, you’re in good company. Gladiator won Best Picture this year at the Oscars and The Ten Commandments is shown on TV every Passover since the exodus or pass over of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt to freedom is what the almost four hour, DeMille production is all about.
In Case You Have Missed It...
I used to love this movie. Every year I’d have nothing better to do with my time than spend it curled up soaking in the pretentious posturings of Charles Heston, Yules Brynner, Edward G. Robinson and Anne Baxter. And, not the least of all, Cecille B. DeMille as the weary-sounding (or is that aristocratic-sounding?) voice of God in the beginning, in the “burning bush,” and wherever he thought appropriate. I have missed it for a number of years now; this year because, ahem, the real God was sending a thunderstorm my way and keeping the local meteorologist busy updating her viewing audience on its progress.
It all begins with the baby Moses, a Hebrew babe born in Egypt. His mother saves him from death by the Egyptian masters by making it that the Pharoah’s sister finds him in a reed basket on the stream flowing past the palace. She raises him as her own, but when he is a man about to become the Pharoah, his Hebrew mother reveals his true birth and asks him to help his people. If only she had waited until he was actually in command, the movie would’ve been a lot less exciting and long!
From then on, he embraces his Hebrew heritage and supposedly becomes a more sympathetic character. He refuses the crown and the princess and summarily is booted out of the city when he is found out to be a murdering Hebrew slave. Yet the desert doesn’t defeat him. The slave he killed for, Joshua, also battles the huge, horrendous desert to find Moses and plead with him to save their people.
That wasn’t miracle enough. Moses, now a shepherd and married, decides he is being called to the top of the mountain to, I don’t know, gain perspective? Hear from God? This is where the “burning bush” comes into play and Moses later on in the movie, or Book of Exodus, receives the ten commandments from lightening sizzling the words into stone tablets. First, though, our hero must prove that his God is more powerful than the Pharoah, now played by the enigmatic Brynner, or his god. He does this with the help of divine intervention and proceeds to lead his people to freedom. But peace eludes him until he is rewarded with his own freedom when he climbs another mountain (before entering the “Promised Land”) in order to die. Joshua takes over as leader.
The Ten Commandments may follow the Biblical story, but whether history actually looked like DeMille’s megamovie is another matter. I do not believe God, in whatever form God exists, would appreciate the need to prove the power of a creator. Do you? If you’re not sure, let me clear up the confusion.. This movie, as does the Bible, scores with people who yearn for mighty heroes they can look up to, who believe the Christian God will put all other people’s gods to shame and who basically find their identity and hope in the faith of their fathers.
If you are not such a person, you may just laugh your head off at your one and only screening of it. Some other people are fascinated with the human drama and beautiful actors and actresses tangled up in each other’s lives like a climactic soap opera. I find it tedious and overwrought with its own importance. There are so, so many movies I haven’t seen that are not screaming a religious message at me. I do not relate to any of the suffering characters, which is a big problem for a moviegoer, and have a hard time believing I should sympathize with them. It’s good, of course, that the Hebrews finally gained their freedom, but why did they have to wait for Moses to grow up and get married in another land across the desert? Did they try to rise up against their captors in all that time?
Personally I prefer Gladiator for its more sympathetic, heroic portrayal of General Maximus. He at least fought his own battles with the occasional rescue by a friend. However, The Ten Commandments is a part of this country’s cinematic history of larger-than-life heroes and DeMille’s final word on the subject. It’s worth a looksee when you're feeling really blue, but that's all.
This has been part of a Passover write-off hosted by naphtalia. Please read other reviews with that theme by:
robinmichele, telynor, dransome, kurt_messick, djsplendid,
wovengold, adjensen, naphtalia, jo.com, sgentile, mtbat, jankp,quasar
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