Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Season II: Remembering Heston

Basketball season closes the doors tonight with the championship game between Memphis and Kansas. I probably care less than you do, but if you have not been reading my hoops writing, just know that once the teams without all the money and conference advantages are out, I simply do not care who wins. I can still enjoy the high-level hoops, the Final Four, and the crowning of a champion, but I honestly do not care who wins.

Anyway, that means it is not the off-season for this blog, but the ON-season! And, I have to start this on-season with a tribute to Charlton Heston.

You may or may not know that my band, Redfoot, ends most every show with a song I wrote called, "For John Charles Carter" (Heston's given name). It is a tribute to Heston's movies. I wrote it three years ago after seeing a commercial for network television's annual showing of the Cecil B. Demille classic The Ten Commandments. Before the days of VCR's, my family always made time for two annual television events: The Wizard of Oz (usually in October) and The Ten Commandments (usually around Easter). Watching Ten brings back so many good memories of family and the spectacle of DeMille's films. Once my family bought a VCR in the mid-1980s, we taped Ten from television and my brother and I must have watched that film at least 30 times. We loved it and, in retrospect, I think it was because it made a very familiar Bible story very real to us visually.

In addition to Ten, Planet of the Apes is one of my favorite books (by Pierre Boulle--MUST READ!) and favorite movies. Heston's starring role in the 1968 film is part camp, part anti-hero, part social commentary, and I love it. One of the interesting components of Heston is that he somehow was viewed as a "great actor," but he often seemed so over-the-top with his acting that it was comical. Yet, he pulled it off in a strange way and this is nowhere more evident that in Planet of the Apes. Remember: "It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!" Good stuff.

The song I wrote references many of his films (Ten, Ben-Hur, Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes), and while the song might be taken as poking fun at Heston, I wrote it more with tribute in mind. There might be some sarcasm and subtle jabbing in there regarding his acting style and politics, but his work truly influenced me from my earliest days and I greatly appreciate his work in film.

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