I write today to remember the life and times of Charlton Heston, most appropriately, on the Passover of 2008. Charlton Heston passed over on April 5th, 2008, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the death of Reverend Martin Luther King (whom he had inspired to reach "the mountain top" and with whom he had marched for Civil Rights in the 1960s).
Can anyone doubt that it was Moses (?) whom Martin Luther King was thinking of when he stated in Memphis, on the night before he died:
"Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
And was there any icon of Moses who could have inspired Reverend King to such a metaphor other than Charlton Heston in "The Ten Commandments"?
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Charlton Heston was a staunch Democrat who supported John F. Kennedy for President and Reverend Martin Luther King in the crusade for Civil Rights. In the 50s and 60s, Heston was one of a handful of Hollywood actors who spoke openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement.
We have a saying in Tai Chi that "To think is to create, Imagination becomes Reality." What was conceived by Cecil B. De Mille in "The Ten Commandments" came true in 1963 during the Civil Rights March on Washington and "Moses" was there leading the people with Reverend King. The photos below demonstrate exactly what I mean.
|How "Moses" Influenced Social Movements for
Equal Justice, Racial Integration and Civil Rights
No film made a deeper impression on me as a child than did Cecil B. De Mille's
"The Ten Commandments" in 1956. For this observer of American history, the day that Charlton Heston (as "Moses") uttered the words "Let my people go!" to an intransigent Pharaoh, Rameses, marked the beginning of the Civil Rights movement, first in America, and today around the world. It also made me believe that God does at time communicate directly with human beings and that the channel to God is always open.
In another scene, I believe that the arrival of Moses before the aging Pharaoh, Seti, and his introduction African-American actor, Woodrow Strode as the King of Nubia (and his nubile daughter) as equals, who refuse to kneel before Seti, signaled the beginning of the racial integration movement to end segregation in the America.
When Moses said to Seti, "This man is a king. He comes not as a slave but as an ally", the "Old Crocodile," Seti, relented and the court of Pharaoh was integrated…peacefully. But it would take America much longer than Pharaoh did to realize what great treasures and resources resided in an alliance of culture with Afro-Americans than living in a cultural vacuum, segregated and apart.
The symbolism employed by Cecil B. De Mille in this is simple and clear to all but the most obtuse observers. De Mille planted a subliminal message in a beautiful and subtle way.
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