There is something about a holiday special that is done right. If it is well balanced with tradition and family without being too schmaltzy, it can last years, if not generations.
Back in 1995, A Rugrats Passover aired. It tells the Passover story as only the Rugrats can. In a nutshell, the children are told the story by Grandpa Boris. As the tale begins, Tommy imagines himself as Moses and Angelica as Pharaoh.
When it initially aired, I was not the target audience. But looking back, I can see why this episode is as beloved as it is. It is charming, funny and talks directly to the children watching as only a program of this nature can.
What is Passover without the retelling of the Passover story, a la, Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956)?
Moses (Charlton Heston) believes himself to be a son of Egypt and a member of the royal family. But he is not. He is the son of a Jewish slave. When Pharaoh decreed that the infant sons of Jewish slaves were to be killed, Moses’s mother put her son in a basket. Sending the basket with her son down the Nile, she prayed that her son would be found. The person who found the basket was the Egyptian princess, who raised Moses as her own. As an adult, Moses discovers his true heritage and must goes against his brother, the Pharaoh Rameses (Yul Brynner) to free his people.
This movie, for it’s era is incredible. The special effects are a marvel. While it’s true that the cast is all Caucasian and the acting a little over the top for my taste, the movie still is a wonder to behold.
We all know the story of Moses. He is the infant son of Hebrew slaves living in Egypt. A rumor is spreading that among this new generation of sons born to the Hebrew slaves, one will grow up and free the slaves. Pharaoh sends his soldiers to kill all of the male infants. Yochoved is one of many women who has just brought another son into the world. Willing to do anything to save her son, she puts him in a basket and puts the basket in the Nile. The basket stops at the watery doorstep of the Egyptian princess, who raises the infant as her own. Years later, Moses experiences a crisis of faith and must discover who he is meant to be.
In 1998, The Prince Of Egypt premiered. The actors who lent their voices included Val Kilmer (G-d/Moses), Ralph Fiennes (Rameses) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Tzipporah).
This was a biblical movie done right, for several reasons.
First is that it reflected the rainbow of skin colors that exist in the Middle East, unlike the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings or the 1956 The Ten Commandments movie. Second is that there was a spiritual aspect to this movie. It was respectful of the biblical and religious aspect without becoming a spectacle or becoming a romanticized, Hollywoodized story that the 1956 movie is.
Biblical stories are tricky to transfer from the page to the screen. But this was done right.
While the times are constantly changing, Hollywood seems stuck in the film stone age.
A new film adaptation of the Exodus will be premiering in December. Exodus: G0ds and Kings stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Rhamses.
Am I the only one who thinks Hollywood is still colorblind? Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale are good actors, but they are Caucasian. Personally, I don’t think it would have hurt to have a more diversified cast. Prince of Egypt, even though it was an animated film, the characters were not all Caucasian.