What A Fantastic Disappointment

In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

My all-time favorite movie is “The Ten Commandments.” It is a powerful story of bondage and despair and the victory of God over those who claim to be Him. It is one of my favorite stories, and each year I try not to miss watching the film. The old film, that is. The new “Ten Commandments” was a complete waste of four hours of my life. I do not think there was one thing I liked about this new movie…oh, wait…there is one thing. I did like the fact that Moses was not some playboy in his youth, like the old film does. I never liked this about the Charlton Heston film. Oh, maybe there is one more thing: they did show Moses’ mother getting to nurse Moses after he was found by the House of Pharaoh. This was in the Qur’an, and I was surprised they showed this in the film.

But, that was it. The film was a total disaster. First of all, it moved way too fast. Before you know it, Moses is all grown up and has killed an Egyptian and has left for the desert of Arabia. It was a blur. The beauty of this story is the gradual build up of drama, and when the Lord finally reveals Himself to Moses at Mt. Sinai, it is a very powerful scene because the viewer has been living with Moses and his spiritual journey. Moses’ spiritual journey in the new film takes travels at 100 miles per hour, and at that speed, you can’t take in the scenery at all.

Second, there were many parts of this story that were unfamiliar. Now, the old film also had aspects of the story that were not in the Qur’anic version, but this new film had episodes about which I had no idea. But, perhaps they were in the Bible, and I simply was not aware of them.

Third, I could not stand the “new” Moses. He did not seem prophetic at all. Rather, he seemed almost like a post-modern agnostic. What floored me was his realization – half way into the second half of the movie – that God is not one god among many, but the only true God. Are you kidding me? The first thing God said to Moses was that He is the only God: “I am God, there is no deity but Me, so serve Me and practice prayer to remember Me” (20:14). The same goes for the Bible: “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6).

This “new” Moses was never sure of his mission from God; he constantly argued with God and called his arguments “prayers”; he even said out loud that he thought God made a mistake by choosing him as prophet. What kind of prophet is this? I never felt the power or light of God shine through this “new” Moses; I did not respect him as a prophet. Whereas with Heston, you felt as if he was Moses (pbuh). You could see that the light of God shone through him. This “new” Moses was just another guy, and his “revelations” from God almost seemed like hallucinations. Furthermore, his “prophetness” was so suspect that when he said something was the “will of God,” you really can’t believe him. What kind of prophet is this?

Even the splitting of the Red Sea was not as powerful a scene in the new film as opposed to the old film, where I almost wanted to scream in joy at the power of God. Then, after moving so fast to get Moses and his people out of Egypt, the film then slows down – very painfully – on their way to Mount Sinai, where the Ten Commandments are finally given to Moses and his people. But, Moses just disappears – literally – and then comes back with two tablets. In the old film, you see the Ten Commandments being written with the very “finger of God.” It was very powerful. No such power in this new film. Then, to top it off, after Moses destroys the first two tablets by his anger (which is mentioned in the Qur’an), he goes back for a “backup copy.” What sort of prophet is this?

This film was a fantastic disappointment. It paled in comparison to the old film, which airs this Saturday (insha’Allah) on ABC. I hope I can finish rounding in the hospital beforehand so I can watch it. This film goes to show that, if you have a classic that has stood the test of time – like the Ten Commandments – don’t try to remake it. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.


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