Did ABC Show “The Ten Commandments” a Week Late?

April 13, 2009

Working under the assumption that a movie ought to be shown before the event it is meant to commemorate, I wondered this weekend if the folks at ABC mistimed their showing of a classic film.  But then again - maybe not. 

This past Saturday, Easter Eve (4/11/2009), ABC broadcast the much-beloved film by Cecil B. DeMille, The Ten Commandments.  The film is a classic.  Here is an excerpt from ABC's press release:

Starring Charlton Heston as Moses, this dramatic Biblical epic is presented with an all-star cast, including Yul Brynner as Pharaoh, Anne Baxter as Queen Nefretiri, Edward G. Robinson as the overseer of the slaves and Yvonne DeCarlo as Moses' wife.
The Ten Commandments won the 1956 Academy Award for Best Special Effects and received nominations for Best Picture, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Sound.

Unfortunately, the movie was trounced at the Oscars by Around the Word in 80 Days (Best Picture) and The King and I 's Yul Brynner (Best Actor).  Heston was not even nominated for an Academy Award.

Since the weeklong celebration of Passover began last Wednesday night (4/8/2009), I probably would have shown The Ten Commandments before the beginning of Passover on the previous Saturday.  In that way, the events of the Jewish captivity in Egypt and the Israelite's deliverance from bondage would have been retold before the entirety of the holiday.

That said, ABC may have had the far better approach - whether by accident or design.

From a Christian perspective, there is a beautiful Old Testament-New Testament flow in showing a film about Moses and the giving of the Law at Sinai on the eve of the Resurrection Sunday.  Jesus observed in Matt 5:17 (ESV):  "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."  A central promise made by the Lord and delivered through one those prophets is found in Jeremiah 31:33 (RSV):

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah's declaration and its fulfillment seems to be echoed in this writing by Paul to the church in Galatia, "And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'"  (Gal. 4:6 ESV).

All praise and glory to you, Lord.