Sunday, April 06, 2008
Charlton Heston, commonly remembered as Moses, has died at 84. Although he was not a historian, his work as an actor in The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur has been the face of ancient history to many in the world. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.
Growing up, it was a tradition in my family house to watch The Ten Commandments every Easter. It was always broadcast on network TV. Later, we ditched the network broadcast which had commercials and watched the movie on video.
I can not think of Moses without picturing Charlton Heston. He is the face of ancient history to many people and to me. He gave Moses such a commanding screen presence that the Hollywood version of his life is the biography of Moses that most people remember.
Every year, my Dad would get up in front of the TV and echo Heston. He would say, "Let my people go." I used to laugh at my Dad and his message of liberation. But today, I make the same dramatic speech before my two sons when I play this film. This tradition will live on.
My childhood church had a band which went by the name of Elijah. Their rock songs often shocked many of the older church goers. I remember these words from a song they wrote and sang, "God said to Moses go and set my people free. I will be your guide just come and follow me. Moses led his people through the parted Red Sea. They danced and they sang and they had a jubilee."
Yes, there are historical inaccuracies in The Ten Commandments. Ramses in particular gets treated unfairly I think. You can read all about these errors if you spend a minute or so searching Google. I do not care. I have a vision of Moses and Charlton Heston will always be it.
I believe my love of history may have come from watching Charlton Heston as Moses. Without this movie, would I be writing online or teaching at a university? Maybe. However, I know this is where the spark began for me. Rest in Peace Mr. Heston.