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Movie Review

The highest-grossing film of 1956, The Ten Commandments, found a chiseled Charlton Heston leading Paramount to the box-office promised land. Forty years later, the television movie Moses earned an Emmy nomination—a greater miracle in light of the entertainment industry's diminished respect for uplifting and God-honoring biblical epics.

Now available on video, Moses is a praiseworthy cinematic achievement. This biography—awash in warm earth tones—is stylishly photographed, reverently scripted and smartly cast.

Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, Schindler's List) steps into Moses' sandals, bringing a fresh humanity and depth to the Old Testament hero. He stutters insecurely before Pharaoh. He struggles to grasp his calling after encountering the burning bush. His patience at the edge of the Red Sea conveys a deep faith in God. Frustration seeps from every pore as he strikes the rock for water. In short, we identify with what's going on inside of this man. That's partly because Kingsley resists the temptation to recite biblical verse with a lofty, earnest self-awareness. As a result, it all becomes more relatable.

It's worth noting that, for purposes of dramatic presentation, the filmmakers have condensed the historical account of Moses leading God's people out of Egypt. While scenes such as the Passover reflect feverish attention to detail, portions of scripture are modified slightly or ignored altogether. Sins of omission? Sadly, yes. Moses actually does a disservice to families who view it strictly as entertainment. Too much is missing.

However, watching this 3-hour saga while following along in the pages of Exodus and Numbers can prove quite rewarding. As a study tool, Moses creates images that capture the passion of the people involved. Facial expressions. Vocal inflection. In fact, its restaging of Exodus 32:25-28, though brief, may be too graphic for some viewers (stabbings and slit throats). More than just words on a page, the scenes really come to life—a great Bible study companion for parents and teens.

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