This is the time of year when one can expect to see the 1956 epic movie The Ten Commandments airing somewhere on network or cable channels available to viewers worldwide. So far its appeal has managed to endure, as it is currently listed number ten of the top ten epic movies produced.
Wikipedia says, “The Ten Commandments is one of the most financially successful films ever made, grossing over $65 million at the U.S. box office. Adjusting for inflation, this makes it the sixth highest-grossing film domestically, with an adjusted total of $1,025,730,000 in 2012. The box office website “The Numbers” lists the domestic gross at $80 million.
While Cecil B. DeMille was obviously good at making a blockbuster movie, he was also good at embellishing the facts with his own imagination and interpretation. For instance he introduces the storyline of a fictional romance—that Moses loves Nefritiri, the throne princess who must marry the next Pharaoh. The Bible does not even hint at such a thing.
DeMille assigns names to some of the characters, possibly based on the prevailing scholarly opinion of the time: Rameses II as Pharaoh, and Bithiah, as the princess who rescued Moses. But when one reads the account of Moses in the opening chapters of Exodus, such details are noticeably missing. Instead the reader encounters shadowy figures made comprehensible only when placed against the cultural tableau of their time.
The next posts will explore the lives and environment of several personalities, including six women who appear in the Moses story, in an attempt to add, if possible, a personal dimension to these otherwise inscrutable silhouettes.