Sunday, June 12, 2005

A look at Shavuos -- via Hollywood, circa 1956

Here at the CA household, I started a new Shavuous tradition -- the screening of Cecil B. Demille's 1956 remake of The Ten Commandments. As the credits rolled, my teenaged daughter started rolling with laughter. "This was where Monty Python got their ideas!" She couldn't stop laughing for the first 20 to thrity minutes of the 3 1/2 hour endurance-fest. Obviously our 21st century tastes regarding acting styles has changed somewhat. Just a few comments:

My daughter was impressed with all those bare-chested "hunks," running around. And this movie garnered a "G" rating when it was reissued! Hmph! All the ladies are pretty well covered, considering the Egyptian climate, though I will admit the dresses were tight enough. The hypocrisy of of ratings board is evident. Show a bare female chest, and you get an "adult" rating, show a bare male chest in a Bible epic, and, no problem. This discriminates against heterosexual males, and I protest!

Also the teen-aged verdict is that the 1956 Charlton Heston was much "hotter" in his Egyptian costume, without a beard, though we both agree that we don't want to encounter God or a burning bush, because it seems that afterward, you have to get fitted with a very cheesy wig. Let's just hope the producers didn't use Indian hair.

Speaking of cheesy special effects.....Well, perhaps we should judge the producers to their merit, as everything was hand-drawn animation, that fitted pretty well into the live-action shots. Actually, I'm pretty impressed how well they did without cgi animation, though the production values veered between cartoon and real-life (nice location shots) a bit too abruptly at times.

The Hollywood "alterations" to the story" are less of a problem with tradition than many realize: There's something called Midrash. Even the scene in the movie where Moses gets the job done by giving the slaves a Sabbath to rest them is right out of the Talmud or something. (I read it in Yalkut Me'am Loez; who'd have thunk that 1950's Hollywood screenwriters would have been reading a Ladino treatise from the 1700's? And they say those Hollywood Jews are a bunch of secular ingnomauses!) As for storyline about Joshua's girlfriend, well, why not? At least, unlike most of Hollywood's output, the male Jewish main characters all end up marrying nice Jewish girls.

Anyone who reads the credits will do a double-take when they learn that the chariot work was done using the "Cavalry Corps of the Egyptian Army." Hello? The Cavalry Corps? This was 1956! Mounted troops againsts tanks and airplanes! Makes sense. If you're the ones with the tanks and airplanes, that is. No wonder the Israelis took the Sinai so easily that year.

Though the movie is called "the Ten Commandments," that event actually makes up a small fraction of the total running time. It would be better to have called it Prince of Egypt, or the Passover Story, or something. When filming the Shavuos scene, DeMille seemed more interested shifting ahead to 17 Tammuz and filming the Golden Calf scene. Unfortunately the film prduction standards of the era (equivalent to today's G rating) didn't allow him to give justice to his vision of what allegedly happened. Personally, I would have like to have seen God holding the mountain over everyone's head and threatening to kill them all if they didn't accept the Torah . But I guess that wouldn't have played too well in 1956, even if the story comes straight out of the Talmud (BT Shabbat 88a).

8 Comments:

Blogger bec said...

hey,
i'm actually commenting on your "about me" paragraph. having lived both odoxically and conservatively, and am now part of a conservative community, i'm having a lot of questions about conservative judaism. in my blog, i deemed it the "judaism of justification" and i'm having issues with halacha and conservative judaism. any insights, given that you seem to be well versed in the movement, would be great.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

Weel, bec, if you're interested in living halachically, Conservative Judaism makes the most sense. At least it's reality-based. (aka "positive-historical") The problem is that it's hard to find a community with consistently high levels of observance.

Also, some of the rabbis are pompous asses, and rather spoil my Shabbos davening with their sermons.

Another problem is the presence of the radical feminists whose committment to feminist ideology overrides their respect for tradition. (This is independent from egalitarianism. I know plenty of women who support egalitarianism who are also traditionalists and think the feministas are full of bull.)

11:49 AM  
Blogger Ben Sorer Moreh said...

One day, I'll see the entire flick. How did Yoheved, Moshe's mom's name get mangled to "Yoshebelle?"

12:54 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

How did Yoheved, Moshe's mom's name get mangled to "Yoshebelle?"

You're asking me? How should I know. I wasn't a scriptwriter or on the rewrite team.

But in researching the flick, it seems that CBDeM changed the name of "Nefertiti" to "Nefeteri" in order to avoid the possibility of "boob" jokes.

3:07 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

tiffany and co, louboutin, michael kors, burberry, christian louboutin outlet, ugg boots, louboutin pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, ugg boots, uggs on sale, polo ralph lauren outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet, chanel handbags, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, kate spade outlet, louboutin shoes, tory burch outlet, oakley sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, nike free, prada outlet, louis vuitton outlet, gucci outlet, longchamp pas cher, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, sac longchamp, air max, oakley sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike free, nike air max, longchamp, louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, nike air max, prada handbags, nike roshe run, replica watches, replica watches, air jordan pas cher, tiffany jewelry, louis vuitton, nike outlet, ray ban sunglasses

9:34 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

north face, nike free run uk, air force, michael kors outlet, hogan, nike blazer, burberry, michael kors outlet, true religion jeans, nike air max, converse pas cher, hermes, nike air max, kate spade handbags, mulberry, coach purses, vans pas cher, tn pas cher, north face, true religion jeans, lululemon, michael kors outlet, sac guess, burberry outlet online, nike roshe, true religion outlet, new balance pas cher, timberland, oakley pas cher, michael kors, michael kors, vanessa bruno, coach outlet, hollister, replica handbags, hollister pas cher, ray ban pas cher, ray ban uk, coach outlet, ugg boots, true religion jeans, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max, michael kors, michael kors, michael kors outlet, ralph lauren uk, lacoste pas cher, michael kors outlet, ugg boots

9:37 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

nike roshe, reebok shoes, north face outlet, nfl jerseys, timberland boots, mont blanc, asics running shoes, iphone 5s cases, insanity workout, ghd, beats by dre, babyliss, mac cosmetics, valentino shoes, wedding dresses, iphone 6s cases, iphone 6 cases, nike trainers, celine handbags, iphone 6 plus cases, longchamp, abercrombie and fitch, ferragamo shoes, birkin bag, iphone 6s plus cases, soccer jerseys, nike air max, oakley, bottega veneta, lululemon, chi flat iron, s5 cases, jimmy choo shoes, nike huarache, hollister, vans shoes, ipad cases, north face outlet, giuseppe zanotti, mcm handbags, nike air max, iphone cases, herve leger, hollister, instyler, new balance, louboutin, soccer shoes, p90x workout, baseball bats, hollister, ralph lauren

9:39 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, pandora charms, hollister, moncler, doudoune canada goose, pandora charms, marc jacobs, replica watches, barbour jackets, moncler, canada goose uk, barbour, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, montre pas cher, swarovski, canada goose outlet, ugg pas cher, converse outlet, canada goose, canada goose outlet, pandora jewelry, karen millen, louis vuitton, ugg boots uk, moncler, moncler, swarovski crystal, lancel, thomas sabo, moncler, links of london, ray ban, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton pas cher, vans, gucci, wedding dresses, coach outlet, canada goose, canada goose, bottes ugg, moncler, converse, pandora jewelry, moncler outlet, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, toms shoes, moncler, supra shoes

9:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home