Passover: for many this represents a time for families and friends to come together for two nights, for bowls on matzah ball soup and brisket at the Seder table – subsequently to be followed by 6 days of constipation and/or starvation. Now that there are 4 lovely remaining days of celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt, 4 days without leavened bread and happiness, we would like to provide you with Passover-themed movies and TV episodes with which you might want to distract yourself and while the time away.
1. “Prince of Egypt” (DreamWorks, 1998)
Let’s be honest: a musical retelling of the story of Passover is exactly what your Jewish grandmother ordered, along with a bowl of soup, and some Yiddush guilt (read: love). DreamWorks’s first animated film proved to be an instant classic, and one that might one day, if not today, stand next to “The Ten Commandments” as a timeless film. The colorful and beautifully done animation paired with enchanting songs like “Deliver Us” (after the jump) and “Through Heavens Eyes” written by Academy Award-winners Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz make viewers feel as though their reliving the exodus with the ancient Israelites. For many, watching this movie can even be a religious experience.
2. “The Ten Commandments” (Paramount, 1956)
I have to give it up to the classics, there’s no way around it; respect and reverence is due to this 220 minute classic. This hallmark to the bygone days of film, with few special effects that remind us now of bad graphics and poor wireless connection and booming Shakespearian-like acting, The Ten Commandments is a Passover must. Academy Award winning actors Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner face off as Moses and Pharaoh, respectively, make this movie the epic that it is. Heston, who some of you may recognize as the narrator from Disney’s “Hercules,” represents an era in which Hollywood took itself seriously and when heroes like Moses came from the Bible or history. His powerful presence on screen reminds us how liberating true artfulness can be, and the power of the Passover story simultaneously.
The Burning Bush
3. “The Rugrats” “A Rugrats Passover” (Nickelodeon, 1991-2004)
If I could sum up my childhood in a TV episode, I think I’d choose this one. If there were a word for “nostalgic” and “adorable” at the same time, that’s what “A Rugrats Passover” embodies. The episode surprisingly gets a lot of the Passover story correct based on a reading of the Torah, while very aptly placing Angelica in the role of Pharaoh, and Tommy as Moses when the story is retold with our favorite little tikes as the biblical players; Angelica would never let those “dumb babies” be free if she could make them do her work all day. The episode adds humors to its educational portrayal of a typical Seder, the ceremonial dinner on the first two nights of the holiday. The running sight gag from the episode is unforgettable. Each time someone leaves the table, everyone yells, “Don’t close the—door” as people perpetually get locked out.
4. “The Nanny” “The Passed-Over Story” (CBS, 1993-1999)
Among my all-time favorite TV shows, “The Nanny” does Passover (and New York Jewish culture) right. Every other line is a Jewish joke or a translated Yiddish phrase that is funny enough to get a person who knows the least about Judaism to laugh. In “The Passed-Over Story,” the Sheffields join Fran’s family for a Passover Seder. At one point Fran shouts, “It’s the miracle of Passover; the Messiah is coming!” when she finds out that Barbra Streisand is coming to New York. And like any good Jewish dinner, the episode ends with everyone saying how full they are, and that they can’t move. Some may just never know how true that statement is.
The Messiah is here!
For the last four days of Passover, may these cultural treats be my blessing to you. May you have a Zissen (Sweet) Pesach, and a strong stomach.