(Image: Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
My husband had a deprived childhood.
During his childhood, he did not watch television very much. He would watch Dr. Who on PBS or a Godzilla film, but he has no fond memories of Reading Rainbow or whatever that hideous educational science program with the man dressed up like a flayed corpse was. He and his brother did not do what my siblings did, and pop microwave popcorn so we could sit in a darkened room watching The Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music and pretend we were watching a real movie. He’s never even seen those films in their entirety before. He’s seen next to nothing. He was, however, raised a Protestant until he was a teenager, and so he knows his Bible.
I found out recently that Michael has never before seen the delightfully overblown Cecil B. Demille version of The Ten Commandments, either. Didn’t stay up to watch it on television the weekend before Easter every year. When we move furniture and I periodically exclaim “YOCHABELLE IS TRAPPED BETWEEN THE BLOCKS!” in a stagy hammy voice, he has no idea why.
I tried to explain.
Me: Uh, well, you see, in the movie The Ten Commandments, Moses is overseeing the building of Pharaoh’s new treasure city, and he has no idea that Yochabelle is his mom– they pronounce it “YOSH-uh-bell” so it won’t sound like a Jewish name, you know, and–
Michael: Why wouldn’t he know that?
Me: Well, in the movie, Pharaoh’s daughter passes him off as her newborn son.
Michael: That makes no sense.
Me: Yeah, I know. He’s just a white guy whom everyone assumes is the Pharaoh’s nephew and Yul Brenner’s cousin. He doesn’t know anything about Hebrew culture, but–
Michael: No. He was nursed by a Hebrew nursemaid who was his actual mother, and–
Me: Yes, in Exodus, but they skip that part in the movie. Anyway, he’s there, and Yochabelle is putting grease on these blocks of stone that are about the size of this house, you see, so that the enormous group of slaves can push the rock into place with sticks. But her belt gets stuck. The block’s going so slow there’s no reason in the world she can’t just take off her belt and walk away calmly, but she doesn’t. She just kneels there screaming while the block inches closer and closer. And the Egyptian slave drivers won’t stop the movers because they’re so brutal. But Joshua–
Michael: Why is Joshua there?
Me: Joshua is a stone cutter.
Michael: No he’s not. This is before Moses leaves Egypt, right?
Me: Yeah, but–
Michael: When Moses got back, after seeing the burning bush, he was eighty years old.
Me: Oh, wait, Joshua was supposed to be significantly younger than Moses, right?
Michael: If Moses hasn’t left Egypt yet, Joshua would have been about negative seventy years old.
Me: Oh. Well, in the movie they’re presumed to be the same age, and Joshua has been re-imagined as a well-waxed muscular beefcake.
Michael: I see.
Me: Right, so there’s no reason Yochabelle couldn’t take off her belt and walk away, and there’s no reason Joshua couldn’t rip off the belt or cut it off for her, but instead he chooses to punch a slave driver in the face, and Moses proves he’s a good guy by officially pardoning his death sentence. And then Yochabelle gets this dreamy look in her eyes, and you have no idea–
Michael: I don’t think I need to hear any more about this, frankly.
Me: Yeah, me neither.
Maybe I should read a book.