The Oscars happened today—that’s “today” for us folks here in Oz. I don’t much care who wins or loses, and in particular I get annoyed at how Australia will draw a very long bow to claim someone or something as “our own”. Mel Gibson is back in our good books, even though he was born in New York. All has been forgiven for Russell Crowe, too. We were quick to remember he was born in New Zealand, when Russ started chucking phones around, but we’ve put all that behind us.
The reason my interest in movies has been piqued is that I was channel-surfing the other night and stumbled across The Ten Commandments. Chuck Heston as Moses was more like Abraham Lincoln in his dressing gown. Only Yul Brynner, playing the Pharoah, Ramesses II, offered more than a passing resemblance to your basic pharaoh—maybe because Yul’s Russian? Plus there was a supporting cast of thousands—none of whom looked particularly Jewish or Egyptian either, but no one worried about that kind of thing back then. All the Egyptian princesses looked like they’d stepped straight out of a Manhattan dress shop.
Which reminded me of a book I read years ago… can’t remember what it was called. I’m not a religious type, but I found this book fascinating. The premise was that Jesus’ body was supposedly found buried in a wall. He secretly survived the crucifixion, lived until he was fifty or so, and was entombed in the wall of a house to avoid any further fuss. But was it the real deal or not? What made the book interesting was the forensic examination of the skeleton and whether or not it even came close to how Jesus may have appeared in life. It was the first time I’d come across the concept that Jesus could never have looked like the rather pale, Anglo-Saxon looking chap you see in almost every stained glass window in every church across Europe. He was probably short, dark-skinned and very Arabic. Sometime during the subsequent centuries He got one hell of a makeover.
By the way, in Australia we have a thing called the Heritage Council. God help you, if you own a heritage-listed house and want to paint it a “modern” colour. It’s a capital offense. At best, they’ll throw you in jail and flush the keys down the toilet. Imagine the red tape and grief you’d get from the local council, if you found Jesus’ body in your kitchen wall? I’d quietly plaster over the hole again and tip-toe away without another word. Or maybe chuck the bones in a skip-bin after wrapping them in plastic and writing “asbestos” on the outside. Nobody’s going to check inside that bag.
Back on the subject, despite the minor flaw of no one in the movie appearing remotely Arabic, or Egyptian, and that Chuck Heston spends most of the movie in his shabbiest dressing gown, The Ten Commandments is considered the seventh most successful film ever, grossing $122 million—in 1956. Not bad.
I reckon it was the special effects—which won the film its only Oscar. Seeing them now, they’re a hoot, but back in 1956 they must have been gob-smacking.
The main story has its plot issues. While everyone is following Moses it’s all piety, good behaviour and tramping endlessly through a really large, crap desert. Lured away to false gods, the Hebrew people are endlessly drinking, partying, dancing and shagging each other stupid. Sure, they had to sacrifice the occasional virgin, but that could have been micro-managed better. Really, why do they always sacrifice gorgeous, young female virgins? If I’d had a say in things in 1200BC I’d be sacrificing fat, ugly, bloke virgins. It makes much more sense.
Anyway, I’m just saying that Moses had a pretty tough sell-job—almost too tough to be believed.
Of course, if someone made a movie from one of my books and I was invited to the Oscars, I’d be there in a flash. I might even buy a new tee-shirt and pair of thongs (flip-flops, to the rest of the world) for the red carpet thing.
My latest mega-production isn’t quite in the same class as The Ten Commandments, but it was pretty epic. I’ve produced and narrated my first audiobook. It’s an adaption of my book, Horror Story Volume One, Death Wish. Below is a link to the book on Amazon, but you can see the Audible link to the audiobook version. If you’ve never tried an audiobook, you can sign up for an Audible trial and try mine for free. It won’t cost you a thing, and Audible won’t either. If you end up not liking audiobooks, just opt out at the end of the trial.
I’m expecting a message from Chuck soon. I reckon after he’s heard Death Wish he’ll want the movie rights. Hollywood, here I come. If you’d like to get an email whenever I release a new book, audiobook or write a new blog, just sign up to my newsletter above.