Charlton Heston is Moses. The Oscar-winning actor is the only one that comes to mind when recalling the biblical figure who, with God’s help, led the Israelites out of slavery to freedom. Acclaimed director Cecil B DeMille’s 1956 cinematic masterpiece, The Ten Commandments, catapulted Heston to fame. Chuck, as he was known by his family and friends, didn’t let his cinematic work about the Bible end there. At his core, he considered himself a storyteller. He shares this in his well captured documentary, Charlton Heston Presents the Bible.
Charles Heston as Moses
Fifty-five years later, Paramount Pictures is releasing a fully-restored, stunning version of The Ten Commandments. With an outrageous budget (for the 1950s) of 13 million dollars, 75-year-old DeMille created a spectacular film about a man whose life was rife with struggle and blessing. Prior to the film’s opening credits, the restored DVD shows DeMille, who also narrates the film, reiterate the point of the film, describing Moses saying, “Human he was to the point of sin and holy to the point of seeing God.” He goes on to say the film is the story of the birth of freedom, asking, “Are men the property of the state or are they free souls under God?” According to the filmmaker, his sincerest intention was not to craft a “story”, but “to be worthy of the divinely inspired story created 3,000 years ago in the five books of Moses.”
Running at 3 hours and 39 minutes, the epic film follows the life of Moses, from his birth to where he stood on a mountainside as he looked onto the Promise Land. The newly restored version presents DeMille and Heston’s portrayal of Moses’ life in impressive color. Special features include a behind-the-scenes trailer, a news reel from the New York City premiere of The Ten Commandments, commentary over the film by author Katherine Orrison (Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments), and more. The vivid picture alone makes this new DVD worth buying; the extras are just that, great perks to have this Passover as we remember God’s provision and the freedom we can have in Him.
Presenting the Bible
First aired in the ‘90s, Charlton Heston Presents the Bible shows the legendary actor travelling through the Middle East as he discovers biblical sites, all while reading from the King James text. His commentary, along with a behind-the-scenes look at the film legend at work in the desert and cities of Israel, have been re-released as a DVD collection (Genesis, The Story of Moses, Jesus of Nazareth, The Passion).
Charlton Heston’s trip back to Mt. Sinai, the place where God spoke to Moses about leading his people out of bondage and where he inscribed the Ten Commandments, was especially moving to watch. Compelled to share the scripture – through storytelling - as it had been shared for so many generations, Heston came up with the idea of going to Israel to gain more of an understanding of the origins of the Bible stories he learned to love. Heston expresses his admiration for scripture as he weaves Bible history in with personal commentary and passages read directly from the King James Version of God’s Word.
The series begins with Genesis and follows scripture through to Exodus (The Story of Moses), into the life and ministry of God’s Son (Jesus of Nazareth), and ends with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (The Passion). It’s interesting to note that Heston’s documentary doesn’t shy away from biblical fact, even to the point of ending with Christ’s command to his disciples to preach the Gospel to the whole of creation.
These years later, Heston’s cinematic legacy echoes his study of Moses’ incredible life and his personal respect for the Bible. And that’s definitely something we all can learn from Chuck’s work.