Charlton Heston dies

Charlton Heston, Epic Film Star and Voice of N.R.A., Dies at 84 – New York Times

The night before word of Heston’s death came out, I was watching “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” and marveling at how bad it was. I noticed how that totally idiotic pod race, with 5-year old Anakin Skywalker being drug around a track by two jets on tethers, was modeled after the chariot race in “Ben Hur,” which was a thousand times better. It made me reflect on how good of a movie “Ben Hur” actually was. Charlton Heston was brilliant in that film. He was a great Moses too, the later attempts to dramatize the Exodus making “The Ten Commandments” loom even greater. I think Heston came to be under-rated by later film critics, his stock probably going down once he started his pro-gun rights activism with the NRA. Yes, he did some silly films, such as “Planet of the Apes.” But his remained, literally, an epic achievement in Hollywood.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • The Jones
  • The Jones
  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    Wha??

    Phantom Menace and Planet of the Apes – idiotic and silly!?

    I’m insulted.

    (and sometimes too easily entertained, apparently)

  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    Wha??

    Phantom Menace and Planet of the Apes – idiotic and silly!?

    I’m insulted.

    (and sometimes too easily entertained, apparently)

  • Philip

    Get your filthy hands off me you damn dirty ape!!

    I was a sci fi fan in the 60s and 70s. The Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and the Omega Man finally turned me off with the depressing outlook sci fi expressed about the future.

    Heston did a fine job in all three but his best was Ben Hur. But the book was much better than the movie.

  • Philip

    Get your filthy hands off me you damn dirty ape!!

    I was a sci fi fan in the 60s and 70s. The Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and the Omega Man finally turned me off with the depressing outlook sci fi expressed about the future.

    Heston did a fine job in all three but his best was Ben Hur. But the book was much better than the movie.

  • Joe

    R.I.P.

  • Joe

    R.I.P.

  • saddler

    Be sure and check out the new heroic size sculpture of Heston as “Will Penny” at the National Cowboy Museum in OKC next time you go through there, Dr. Veith.

  • saddler

    Be sure and check out the new heroic size sculpture of Heston as “Will Penny” at the National Cowboy Museum in OKC next time you go through there, Dr. Veith.

  • kerner

    Sorry Stephanie, but I didn’t like “The Phantom Menace” either. The virgin birth of Darth Vader was too much for me.

    But I’ll give you “The Planet of the Apes”. So it wasn’t “Citizen Kane”; it was fun.

  • kerner

    Sorry Stephanie, but I didn’t like “The Phantom Menace” either. The virgin birth of Darth Vader was too much for me.

    But I’ll give you “The Planet of the Apes”. So it wasn’t “Citizen Kane”; it was fun.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I’m mourning the loss of a popular gun-rights activist more than the acting of Heston – but I will have to take another look at his chariot race again. Better than the podrace? probably, but I’ll watch Episodes IV, V, or VI over a Heston flick any day!

    Veith must be a bit Trekky.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I’m mourning the loss of a popular gun-rights activist more than the acting of Heston – but I will have to take another look at his chariot race again. Better than the podrace? probably, but I’ll watch Episodes IV, V, or VI over a Heston flick any day!

    Veith must be a bit Trekky.

  • kerner

    Oh, wait! IMHO, one of Heston’s very best performances was in the lesser known movie, “Khartoum”, in which Heston protrayed General “Chinese” Gordon. Gordon was a Christian General who opposed the original “Mahdi army” in Sudan in the 1880′s. It’s a great movie, and very topical these days.

  • kerner

    Oh, wait! IMHO, one of Heston’s very best performances was in the lesser known movie, “Khartoum”, in which Heston protrayed General “Chinese” Gordon. Gordon was a Christian General who opposed the original “Mahdi army” in Sudan in the 1880′s. It’s a great movie, and very topical these days.

  • Ken

    Lucas got a few things right in Episode I (Darth Maul, woefully underutilized, is one of the best baddies in the Star Wars universe; Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn and McGregor’s young Obi-Wan Kenobi were well-realized characters) but started his story at the wrong point and added an unnecessary element of mysticism. I agree with kerner’s complaint about Anakin and the midichlorians (although strongly suspect that the Sith were behind this and it ultimately backfired on them) and there are no good excuses for Jake Lloyd’s portrayal except that better dialogue could have helped. Give Lucas props for realized vision, though–the prequels are marvelous eye candy.

  • Ken

    Lucas got a few things right in Episode I (Darth Maul, woefully underutilized, is one of the best baddies in the Star Wars universe; Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn and McGregor’s young Obi-Wan Kenobi were well-realized characters) but started his story at the wrong point and added an unnecessary element of mysticism. I agree with kerner’s complaint about Anakin and the midichlorians (although strongly suspect that the Sith were behind this and it ultimately backfired on them) and there are no good excuses for Jake Lloyd’s portrayal except that better dialogue could have helped. Give Lucas props for realized vision, though–the prequels are marvelous eye candy.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Trekky!? Hardly, Bryan. And is that the dichotomy, someone is either Star Trek or Star Wars?

    I did like the first trilogy very much. The aliens, for example, in Episode I were cartoon-like, not wondrous at all (which some of them were in the earlier group).

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Trekky!? Hardly, Bryan. And is that the dichotomy, someone is either Star Trek or Star Wars?

    I did like the first trilogy very much. The aliens, for example, in Episode I were cartoon-like, not wondrous at all (which some of them were in the earlier group).

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Well, perhaps I’m just being over-reactionary at the Star Wars dis in this post. I know you can be a Star Wars fan and be into Star Trek. But I don’t think it works the other way around very often. One of the older brother pastors in the circuit is very unloving over this important pastoral issue, so perhaps I’m overly sensitive :)

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Well, perhaps I’m just being over-reactionary at the Star Wars dis in this post. I know you can be a Star Wars fan and be into Star Trek. But I don’t think it works the other way around very often. One of the older brother pastors in the circuit is very unloving over this important pastoral issue, so perhaps I’m overly sensitive :)

  • Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    Yes that is a great movie, one I like to watch about once a year. Coincidently you can buy it cheaper than you can rent it. But wow. Of course I just like those old military movies showing discipline, and courage. I also have a bit of nostalgia for the Old British Empire (everywhere but here.) Khartoum ws definately a better movie than the knoch off that came out a few years ago “The Four Feathers.”

  • Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    Yes that is a great movie, one I like to watch about once a year. Coincidently you can buy it cheaper than you can rent it. But wow. Of course I just like those old military movies showing discipline, and courage. I also have a bit of nostalgia for the Old British Empire (everywhere but here.) Khartoum ws definately a better movie than the knoch off that came out a few years ago “The Four Feathers.”

  • Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    You’ll have to come over and see khartoum. It will change you mind on Heston flicks.

  • Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    You’ll have to come over and see khartoum. It will change you mind on Heston flicks.

  • http://markmcintire.com Mark McIntire

    1. Mark McIntire Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    April 10th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    – Remembering Charlton Heston: The Man In The Arena
    by Mark McIntire

    April 9, 2008 11:42 AM

    Charlton Heston kept his promises. He was good to his friends. He believed in a merciful God, and he loved his country. As though that was not enough to separate him from today’s Hollywood elite, he was married, too, and lived with the same woman for over 60 years.

    Chuck well may be the last iconic gentleman of his era about whom all of the preceding statements were true.

    Many will recall Chuck’s epic stage, movie and TV triumphs, and think he actually was Moses or Ben Hur or Will Penny or Mark Antony. That would amuse as much as bemuse him. “My dad pretends to be other people for a living,” his only son, Fraser Heston, would tell his classmates.

    Chuck was an actor’s actor whose only complaint was: “I never got it right. I always thought I could have done that role better.”
    Some will recall meeting Chuck at a premiere, posh party, political convention, or just on the street. They’d be struck to find he had the same commanding presence and honest grit, and the same gentlemanly manners, on screen and off.
    He was a gentleman’s gentleman. “Daddy lives by his principles, not by the costumes he wears in movies,” his only daughter, Holly, would tell all who asked what he was really like as a person.

    Once a liberal Democrat who campaigned with Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, Chuck later became identified with the conservatism of his friend Ronald Reagan. “I didn’t change . . . my party did,” he’d explain to those who asked about his transformation.

    Of all the things that will be written and said of Chuck now that he is dead, a most important key to his character will be overlooked. Charlton Heston derived his moral and political values from ethical principles that did not change over the course of his spectacular life. His detractors argued this only proves he was a fool. But when we look at what his detractors have accomplished in their lives by comparison, we are left with the suspicion that Chuck was no fool. He was a centered man, comfortable in his own skin.

    At their 50th wedding anniversary dinner, some upstart (that would be me) had the impertinence to ask his beloved wife, Lydia: “How did you manage to stay married to that man for so many years?” In her typical serenity and graciousness, she replied: “Through Chuck, I learned to keep a center of my being to myself . . . else there would be no one there for him to love.”

    The Holy Bible and the complete works of William Shakespeare were never far from Chuck’s fingertips in his study. It’s hard to think of my friend Chuck now without remembering these lines from “Romeo and Juliet,” Act 3, Scene 2:
    “And when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. And he shall make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

    Mark McIntire, a Santa Barbara resident, knew
    Charlton Heston for 27 years.
    http://markmcintire.com

  • http://markmcintire.com Mark McIntire

    1. Mark McIntire Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    April 10th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    – Remembering Charlton Heston: The Man In The Arena
    by Mark McIntire

    April 9, 2008 11:42 AM

    Charlton Heston kept his promises. He was good to his friends. He believed in a merciful God, and he loved his country. As though that was not enough to separate him from today’s Hollywood elite, he was married, too, and lived with the same woman for over 60 years.

    Chuck well may be the last iconic gentleman of his era about whom all of the preceding statements were true.

    Many will recall Chuck’s epic stage, movie and TV triumphs, and think he actually was Moses or Ben Hur or Will Penny or Mark Antony. That would amuse as much as bemuse him. “My dad pretends to be other people for a living,” his only son, Fraser Heston, would tell his classmates.

    Chuck was an actor’s actor whose only complaint was: “I never got it right. I always thought I could have done that role better.”
    Some will recall meeting Chuck at a premiere, posh party, political convention, or just on the street. They’d be struck to find he had the same commanding presence and honest grit, and the same gentlemanly manners, on screen and off.
    He was a gentleman’s gentleman. “Daddy lives by his principles, not by the costumes he wears in movies,” his only daughter, Holly, would tell all who asked what he was really like as a person.

    Once a liberal Democrat who campaigned with Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, Chuck later became identified with the conservatism of his friend Ronald Reagan. “I didn’t change . . . my party did,” he’d explain to those who asked about his transformation.

    Of all the things that will be written and said of Chuck now that he is dead, a most important key to his character will be overlooked. Charlton Heston derived his moral and political values from ethical principles that did not change over the course of his spectacular life. His detractors argued this only proves he was a fool. But when we look at what his detractors have accomplished in their lives by comparison, we are left with the suspicion that Chuck was no fool. He was a centered man, comfortable in his own skin.

    At their 50th wedding anniversary dinner, some upstart (that would be me) had the impertinence to ask his beloved wife, Lydia: “How did you manage to stay married to that man for so many years?” In her typical serenity and graciousness, she replied: “Through Chuck, I learned to keep a center of my being to myself . . . else there would be no one there for him to love.”

    The Holy Bible and the complete works of William Shakespeare were never far from Chuck’s fingertips in his study. It’s hard to think of my friend Chuck now without remembering these lines from “Romeo and Juliet,” Act 3, Scene 2:
    “And when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. And he shall make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

    Mark McIntire, a Santa Barbara resident, knew
    Charlton Heston for 27 years.
    http://markmcintire.com

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