Moses at the Vatican

Over on his blog "Benedictions" David Gibson has a charming piece about the visit to the Vatican of Charlton Heston, who died yesterday after a long and varied career playing saints, presidents and other assorted geniuses. Gibson was working for Vatican radio at the time: "Heston at the Vatican" Heston played Michelangelo (to Rex Harrison’s Pope Julius II) in the big-budget adaptation of Irving Stone’s "The Agony and the Ecstacy," which is worth seeing if only for the constant battles between two colossal egos over the "due date" of the Sistine Chapel. "When will you make an end?" shouts the pope. "When I am FINISHED!" says the artist known for what the Italians call "terribilita." Heston was better known for his role as Moses, star of the Old Testament and the film "The Ten Commandments." (Amazingly, Heston looked like both Michelangelo’s self-portrait and the artist’s colossal stature of Moses.) That film includes one of my favorite pieces of movie dialogue, spoken by Anne Baxter as Nefertiri (or, as Cecil B. DeMille styled her, Nefretiri) to Moses. "Oh Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool!" Running a close second is this overripe bit of cheese between the Bancroft and Heston. AB: Oh, Moses, Moses! Why of all men did I fall in love with the prince of fools? Why must you deny me and yourself? CH: Because I am bound to a God, and to a people, and to a shepherd girl. AB: A shepherd girl? What can she be to you unless the desert sun has dulled your senses. Does she grate garlic on her skin or is it soft as mine? Are her lips chafed and dry as the desert sand or are they moist and red like a pomegranate? Is it the fragrance of myrrh that scents her hair or is it the odor of sheep? CH: There is a beauty beyond the senses, Nefretiri. Apparently taken from some of the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. Charlton Heston: Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid, and Andrew Jackson, RIP. James Martin, S.J.
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