This is in response to VOX's Patrice Trim's
April 15th piece on biblical movies.

September 25, 2001
by Corey Gilkes

I too am of that generation that was raised on "Fraggle Rock", "Scooby Doo" and of course the biblical movies. Now, I cannot argue about the cinematography and special effects that went into the making of these movies; there is no doubt that these were great films in that respect. But what Patrice failed to point out was that these biblical movies were at best almost completely devoid of historical accuracy, and at worst visual examples of the ethnocentrism that tainted the immense talents of people like Cecil B de Mille.

These biblical films were certainly products of their racist, religiously conservative times. The Ten Commandments is a perfect example; Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Elizabeth Taylor looked nothing like the people they portrayed, Ramses was no tyrant and could not have been given the complex nature of Egypt's religio-political structure.

Further, this film and others of its ilk contributed greatly to the prevailing misconception that Egypt utilised chattel slave labour. Indeed, the Ten Commandments had more to do with Cecil de Mille's delusions of grandeur than actual historical reality [then again, his "source" fares no better] What is so frightening is that these trashy films are lapped up by a public unable [or unwilling] to separate fact from fiction. Even more serious is that the ancient cultures that gave birth to the three major world religions, particularly Egypt, has become every filmmaker's favourite whipping post.

The demonising of Egypt and its spiritual beliefs can still be seen in such contemporary films as "The Mummy" Of course, the usual cop-out is that "this is just a movie; it's just entertainment". I would hate to think I'm the only one who is aware that in North America, the movie industry is one of the main vehicles for the propagation of their cultural values and ideologies.

This is the one thing that should be drummed into the heads of most Trinis who already have very little self-esteem; who possesses even less sense of identity or national pride, and are too religiously conservative [as opposed to spiritually] for their own good. Our views of the present are profoundly influenced by what we believe about the past and right now, we have very little in the way of sound historical research to point us in the right direction in anything. At least, very little when it comes to movies, schoolbooks, encyclopedias, even cable TV.

If spirituality is what we really want to see returned to people's lives, "Ten Commandments", "The Day Christ Died", "The Robe" and co. are NOT good places to start.

Previous Page / Gilkes Homepage

^^ Back to top