You know that on Easter, I enjoy watching The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.* I own a copy on popular DVD format. (Two discs, plus the bonus features I will likely never watch.) The movie runs for 220 minutes. Watching The Ten Commandments requires a full 15% of your entire Easter.

Such devotion compels me to contemplation. I study Heston’s performance and note the similarities of his roles. For example Charlton Heston spends a tremendous amount of screen time without a shirt, and often in some form of bondage. Take three of his more famous movies: Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and Planet of the Apes. See? We love stripping and chaining Charlton Heston. Perhaps it was a bullet point in his studio contract. The pressure on Heston to remain in good bare-chested, chained-up shape must have been enormous.

What strikes me most about The Ten Commandments is the change in Heston’s Moses after communing with God on the mountain. Pre-Burning Bush Moses was dashing and romantic. He was always scrapping with bullies and catching the eye of sex-starved maidens. Sure, he could be annoyingly over-achieving (a brilliant military general and a brilliant engineer?), but at least he didn’t allow his professional interests to impede upon his pillow talk.

Consider one of Heston’s lines to his hot wife just before chatting with the Lord:

“Your eyes are as sharp as they are beautiful!”

Bear in mind that The Ten Commandments is loaded with similar Shaft-like pearls. Two hours into the film, Heston is sinking these bon mots like routine free throws. You barely even notice. However, this is the last time Heston’s Moses lays on the charm. The fire of God fails to consume the bush, but it successfully purges Heston’s panache.

In fact, Post-Burning Bush Moses might be an accomplished liberator, but he’s a lousy husband. Pressured with the Exodus, the weight of God’s expectations, and with the Egyptian army hot on his heels, you can forgive Moses for being a little distant at the dinner table. But would it kill him to have a coffee with Mrs. Moses every now and then?

You know what would have been nice? Inviting Mrs. Moses to join him on the trip up Mount Sinai. “Let’s take a walk, babe. We’ll pack a lunch, take our time, and lug down God’s almighty law to the Hebrews.” Chicks like that.

Maybe nothing lowers your T more than an important assignment from God. Last thing I want to do is hold hands with the wife and watch Downton Abbey after a hard day of work. But man, you got  to power through that shit if you want your marriage to last, Moses. Leave your work at the office.

In the end, God rewards Moses’ sacrifice of the best years of his life by denying him entry into the Promised Land. The particulars aren’t clear: some clerical error involving a rock and water. But maybe that was only the official reason for the permanent file. Maybe God just wasn’t cool with Moses’ fuddy-duddy attitude. Maybe He was like, “Man, we already have Joshua and Aaron bringing down the party with their boring lectures. You just need to bail, Moses.”

You will also note that, after the Burning Bush, Charlton Heston keeps his shirt on for the remainder of the film.

 

 

 

*You likely did not know this

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