Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Ten Commandments and Easter

Want to know the greatest Easter movie of all time? Before rushing to name off every movie about Christ's crucifixion, or the very few involving the Easter Bunny ("Hop" and "Rise of the Guardians" are the only two that hop to mind), hear me out. It's not either of them. Not by a longshot.

It's been a longtime tradition in my family to watch The Ten Commandments sometime during the week leading up to Easter. As a child, I hadn't the foggiest idea why. As a teenager, I didn't care. The 1956 film (Cecile B. DeMille's second attempt at the epic story of Moses!) is the greatest movie about the Bible, EVER. Purists might curse me by saying that it's The Passion of the Christ, because that movie literally IS Easter, and it is a good one. It's well done as any Biblical film I've ever seen, but before the story of the Passion ever happened, there was the story of Moses, the savior of the Israelite slaves.
The story of Moses is when the Israelites first observed a "Passover." It was the last curse that God put against the stubborn Pharoah, Ramses, to convince him to let the Israelites go. It's a tradition that is still observed by many Jewish families to this day. When Jesus and His disciples were eating the Last Supper, they were having Passover. Only this time, Jesus was the sacrifice to save everyone.

But that's enough seriousness. When I was in college I watched The Ten Commandments every year around Easter and NONE of my friends understood it. But it's so well done. It's bright, colorful, the performances are amazing, espcially by Ann Baxter (All About Eve1950), who played Moses' first love interest and Ramses' eventual wife. She is really the star of that film. She steals every scene she's in. I have a bit of a girl crush on her, but she's just so fabulous. She's almost Cleopatra, generations before Cleopatra lived. 
Charlton Heston is known for epic films, and he's done several Biblical ones. This one shows him in several different ways. There's the hot young prince at the start of the movie, followed by the shepherd being fawned over by several young shepherdesses, and then there's the man who saw God, with big white hair and a long beard. He plays each part of Moses life as if he was really going through those trials. Yet another reason for me to love him.

If you get a chance, check out this version of The Ten Commandments. The 1923 original Cecile B. DeMille is pretty good, and even has a "modern" (1920's) portion of two brothers who both love a girl, and they regularly break all ten of the commandments. There is also the cartoon musical from 1998, The Prince of Egypt, starring every big name under the sun from that time. And what junior high school didn't sing "When You Believe" that year? I know mine did. And we sang it again in high school!

Yes, the Resurrection was the first Easter. It's why we celebrate it, but I like to think God was preparing everyone for sacrifice with the story of Moses. What kind of dinner would Jesus and the disciples be having if they didn't have a passover to observe? Something to think about.

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