Friday, December 26, 2008

The Ten Commandments

I watched some of the amazing 1956 film "The Ten Commandments" this afternoon on More4. It was absolutely superb. The director, Cecil B DeMille, is said to have been the greatest movie director of all time. He was born into an Episcopalian family in the USA in 1881, and he suffered a near-fatal heart attack on the set of The Ten Commandments. Here's a quote from him, related to the series of great Biblical epic movies he made in the first half 20th Century:

"...All my life, I've wondered how many have been turned away from Christianity by the effeminate, sanctimonious, machine made Christ of Sunday school books. The Christ was actually a man with a body hard enough to withstand 40 days of fasting and long journeys on foot and nights of sleepless prayer, a man with a mind razor sharp, whose ranging thoughts measured the kingdoms of the world against the lilies in the field, a man who had compassion for sinners, and unleashed His anger and biting scorn only on the hyprocities who made a travesty of His father's temple. There could well have been a note of admiration in the voice of Pilate when he said of Him: 'Behold the Man!'..."

It's a far cry from "little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay"... And by the way, there was no stable. And no innkeeper. And no three Kings. This great wee cartoon bursts some of the storybook bubbles that have grown up around the Nativity story.

For the past few weeks I've been reading the story of Moses with my 10 year old son Jacob - not from picture story books, but directly from the Bible, chapter by chapter, taking a verse each. He has lapped it up, and watching the film this afternoon with him proved that even in today's age of computer special effects wizardry, it's the power of the story that really matters.