Confession time: I’m not religious and I’m not not religious. I don’t spend as much time as I probably should reflecting about The Big Things on Easter Sunday, and yet I feel guilty about that…so that’s something, right?
Anyway, last night I was snacking on some Cadbury Creme Eggs with the remote in my hand, flipping through the channels after the Duke-West Virginia game turned out to be a bust. That’s when I stumbled onto ABC, which was airing a holiday film that is to the Easter/Passover season what It’s a Wonderful Life is to Christmas: The Ten Commandments.
Now, I’ve seen Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 Technicolor biblical epic at least a dozen times. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Nor am I ashamed to admit that I actually own a copy. Even so, I’ll cop to the acting being as hammy as…well, an Easter ham. Not to mention the special f/x sequences, like the infamous parting of the Red Sea, which are so preposterously phony in today’s age of Avatar that they’re almost laughable.
But here’s the thing: last night, I got totally swept up – and choked up – by Charlton Heston leading his people out of slavery and into the promised land. It’s not because I’m the hugest Heston nut. Generally speaking, I could take him or leave him in Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Ben Hur, and all of his other “classic” roles. But man, the authority, the voice, the beard! The dude was a great Moses! And it’s not just him. Yul Brynner is perfect as Rameses, All About Eve’s Anne Baxter is deliciously vicious as Nefretiri, and Edward G. Robinson is gut-bustingly hilarious as Dathan (especially if you remember Billy Crystal’s dead-on impersonation – “Where’s your messiah now, see?”). Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to push religion or faith on anyone. I’m just saying that last night I was reminded why The Ten Commandments is a timeless classic (like It’s a Wonderful Life). It does exactly what a great film can do: it makes you appreciate life and somehow finds a way to make you feel like a better person just by sitting down and watching it. And there’s nothing controversial about that.
Did anyone else see The Ten Commandments last night?