Moses Marathon Awards

Well, I’ve just completed my Moses Marathon. As Cecil B. Demille’s Ten Commandments soundtrack plays in the background, I am about to award the Moses Marathon awards. My choices were hard to make, and they will probably be different next year. But what follows is what stood out to me this year. Please see my last post for the list of Moses movies that I saw.

1. Best Moses: I award this to Ben Kingsley. His Moses is reticent and socially awkward. He doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, yet God uses him anyway.

2. Best Aaron: This goes to Anthony Quayle on the Burt Lancaster Moses movie. He’s a great orator who does most of the talking for Moses. Isn’t that why God sent Aaron in the first place (Exodus 4:14-15)?

3. Best Miriam: This goes to Sandra Bullock on Prince of Egypt. She loved her brother Moses, had faith in him, and stuck by him even when he was unpopular. Sure, the biblical one complained against him (Numbers 12), but I liked Sandra Bullock’s comforting presence. Plus, even her animated character looks good.

4. Best Daddy Pharaoh: I award this to Patrick Stewart of Prince of Egypt. He wasn’t a bad guy. He was a pretty good father figure to Moses. He just had misplaced values. He thought that the slaves were less than human, and he emphasized strong leadership to maintain order. He tried to train his son, Ramses, not to be the weak link, for he wanted to mentor him into the kingship. Unfortunately, he set Ramses up for his hardened heart during the plagues, which led to the ruin of Egypt.

5. Best Exodus Pharaoh: I award this to Frank Langella on the Ben Kingsley movie. I feel sorry for Yul Brynner. He was always in Moses’ shadow, and Moses was always taking things away from him. Yet, Moses was so perfect that he didn’t know he was taking things away from him. So Yul was the black sheep, who was trying to put up with his goody-two shoes “brother.” I have a problem rooting against someone I pity. Ramses on Prince of Egypt is also a sympathetic character, for he and Moses were once good friends. But Frank Langella does a good job playing an arrogant jerk, who always makes fun of Moses and delights in throwing around his authority. I love to see those types knocked down a few notches!

6. Best Jethro: This goes to Danny Glover, who plays him on Prince of Egypt (as I just found out). This Jethro is so welcoming. He puts a robe on Moses after he is bathed. He reminds Moses that he has done honorable things, when Moses feels so alienated and worthless. I like a Jethro who welcomes the stranger.

7. Best Dathan: I really want to give this to Edward G. Robinson, but I’ll give it instead to the Dathan on the Dourgay Scott Ten Commandments. This Dathan insidiously sows seeds of doubt and mistrust in the minds of Aaron and Miriam. “You guys stood near Moses when those miracles occurred,” he said. “How do you know that you weren’t the ones who did them?” Sounds pretty convincing! And that’s most likely how Satan operates: he sows discord, but he doesn’t sound totally wrong when he does so.

8. Best Plagues Scene: Definitely the one on Prince of Egypt. God really breaks the back of powerful Egypt in that scene! Plus, I love the song, “I send my scourge, I send the sword, thus saith the LORD!”

9. Best Red Sea Scene: The Cecil B. Demille one, hands down. I don’t care if the other ones look better due to modern special effects. You just can’t beat the astonished faces of those two kids, Dathan, and Abiram when God blocks the Egyptians with fire, while opening up the Red Sea for Israel.

10. Favorite Character: This year, the award goes to Bithia on Demille’s Ten Commandments. For many years, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for her. She goes from saying “Their God is the hope of the hopeless,” to standing by God when most of the Israelites are making the Golden Calf. This fits in with what I’m reading in More Than One Way?, particularly the Clark Pinnock essay: Often, those who are outside of God’s community “get it” more than those on the inside. This is true of Naaman the Syrian and faithful Gentiles in the Gospels. Perhaps the reason is that they like results, and they see that the God of Israel brings them about (unlike their own gods). But the Israelites were used to their own god, so he didn’t impress them that much. Familiarity can breed contempt, even though it shouldn’t. We should appreciate God the more we get to know him.

In any case, I’ll respond to comments on my other posts tomorrow. Have a good night!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Moses Marathon Awards

  1. Nathan K. says:

    This was a fun post to read– I think you might be the authority on Exodus movies.

    I really liked Ben Kingsley’s Moses as well. I also liked the musical theme for that movie– both triumphant and sad.


  2. James Pate says:

    Hey Nathan! Yeah, it was in Hebrew too, if I was hearing it correctly. I thought it was especially powerful at the end, when Moses got a panoramic view of all of the Promised Land. I think the Ben Kingsley one did the best job of emphasizing the Promised Land. Demille’s Ten Commandments focused on the Exodus, as did Prince of Egypt. Dourgay Scott’s Ten Commandments and the Burt Lancaster Moses focused mostly on Law. But the Kingsley one touched more on the Promised Land.


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