Every Lent my family watches Cecil B. DeMille’s cinematic masterpiece The Ten Commandments. I’m sure we are not the only ones! It is a film which has brought into high relief the Biblical themes portrayed in Exodus.
I’m particularly fond of it because it is clear DeMille uses the Septuagint Old Testament (as used by the Orthodox today), and not the Masoretic text (a thousand years younger, and less accurate).
How do I know this?
The name of Moses wife tells all.
In the Septuagint Old Testament, she is Sephora.
In the movie, she is Sephora.
In the Masoretic text (exclusively used by most Bibles), her name is Zipporah.
Check your own Bible, and see if you’re using the original, or a thousand-year-later version. But I digress.
The idea of freedom is not a new one, but sometimes we forget where it actually started. During Lent especially, it is a theme which should not be forgotten.
Consider the following from Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959), American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films, who steps out on stage at the beginning of his 1956 film The Ten Commandments. DeMille makes no bones about the purpose of this film, and said so in subsequent interviews.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, young and old. This may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the picture begins, but we have an unusual subject: the birth of freedom. The story of Moses.”
“The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God?”
“This same battle continues throughout the world today.”
Those who watch The Ten Commandments on television don’t get to see DeMille make his speech. It is always left out, and has been for decades on network broadcasts. I only saw it myself when I bought it for my family to watch while in Alaska.
DeMille considered the topic of freedom under God’s law to be the movie’s most important message. It is the accounting of the birth of freedom in human history.
Here he is delivering it at the beginning of the movie. See for yourself.