The Ten Commandments

Heaven knows why I watched this movie last night. Perhaps heaven sent me sore feet in order to keep me from dancing the night away. But at the end, I had gained so much wisdom from the ancient story that underlies Charlton Heston’s and Hollywood, USA’s vision of what it means to be human and enslaved by evil, greedy rulers and what it means to be in the wilderness, alone.

And the insights into the arrogance of 1950s America–to cast Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Ramses. Despite his name, I wonder whether Cecil B. DeMille was Jewish. Maybe even gay, with all those loving close ups and mincing moves of the men in the film.

Over and over I told myself to turn the movie off but just at that moment, a glimpse of the feminine underpinnings of the tale would lure me back in, just as the opening scene of an Egyptian princess saving a baby in the bullrushes has lured me in. The women seemed as real as the men seemed unreal. Except for Yul Brynner’s Ramses, who was authentic, with perhaps just a touch of the King of Siam from The King and I.

But at the end, it was a tale of people surviving dehumanization and hardship by surrendering to that which has no name. That Which Has No Name is He Who Has No Name in the film and manifests in special effects which seem pretty fake by today’s standards (the Burning Bush, really?). It was a tale of wandering in the wilderness of one’s life and encountering people who are truly good. And ultimately, of hearing the message of That Which Has No Name, telling us when to struggle against oppression and when to leave it behind.

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