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RIP, “Moses”

I’m sure most folks know by now that Charlton Heston passed away over the weekend at age 84.  Heston was an incredible actor, defined primarily by his work in two epic films, “Ben Hur” and “The Ten Commandments.”

My view and appreciation for “The Ten Commandments” has varied through the years… We were practically forced to sit and watch it every Easter when I was a kid, and that experience etched in my mind the idea that the people in the pages of the Bible looked and talked like Cecil B. DeMille’s incarnations.  Even today I can’t read the book of Exodus without hearing Charlton Heston’s voice: “Take your stinking paws off me, you…dirty ape!”  No wait… that’s “Planet of the Apes,” but you get the idea.


Later, when I was in Bible college, Professor McKinney offered his Pentateuch class extra credit if we could find a minimum of 10 deviations from the Bible in “The Ten Commandments.”  Easiest extra credit I had gotten since I clapped erasers for Mrs. White in fourth grade.  During this time, I saw Heston’s Moses as a caricature and the movie as high camp.

But I have to admit, in recent years I’ve come around to an appreciation for the movie in general and Heston’s portrayal in particular.  DeMille and Heston recognized that they were handling an important, sacred story, treasured by millions.  DeMille spared no expense to give that story a dignity and a grandeur that is mostly absent in movies today.  Heston’s transformation from playboy/prince to God’s liberator is masterful acting that makes us understand why they used to call them “movie stars.”

So, RIP indeed, Mr. Heston.  You’ll always be Moses to me.


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