That special time of year has come again. Seder plates, cups of Maneshevitz, and whacking families members with onions during Dayenu fill our homes every March. As a child, my cousins and I loved searching for the Afikomen, a half-piece of matzah that is broken during the Seder and hidden for children to find at the end of the meal. My parents and I –– like many Jewish families –– watched the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments starring Charleston Heston. While this film is a classic, I thought I would recommend some other movies and TV shows to watch during this special time of year.
In 1995, the “Rugrats” released a Passover special entitled “A Rugrats Passover.” In this episode, Tommy and Angelica, the main characters of the show, are attending Passover with their parents at Boris and Minka’s place, family friends to the main characters. At dinner, the story of Passover is re-told, which is typically part of the holiday’s Seder. Tommy serves as baby Moses and Angelica’s mom (Didi) describes Passover as the holiday of “freedom.” This episode feels perfectly nostalgic while also recreating the holiday’s story on Nickelodeon. What more could a girl ask for?
Another Passover classic is “The Prince of Egypt.” Initially, Disney was going to produce this story, but DreamWorks ended up producing this film. The film begins with the enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt and ends with Moses retrieving the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. Ralph Fiennes (Voldermort from Harry Potter) voices the Pharaoh, and Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz composed the soundtrack.The cast also includes Sandra Bullock, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, and Steve Martin (among others). Initially, The movie has an amazing soundtrack and is free to watch on Peacock (if you’re interested). I personally watched this animation with my little cousins and they seemed to really enjoy it.
If you would like a more serious retelling of the Passover story, the 2014 film “Exodus: Gods and Kings” stars Christian Bale. I watched this movie at the Bruin Theater when it first came out with my family. While the movie is more graphic than the previous stories I shared, it provides a twentieth-century recreation of the original film. Christian Bale, as usual, is amazing in the film, and regardless of the low ratings by critics, this film has really strong effects that add to its storytelling.
Finally, I think an entertaining Passover-themed show is Curb Your Enthusiasm’s “The Seder” episode. Larry David invites a controversial individual to his Seder, which results in the disapproval of his wife and other guests. The episode details a traditional Passover Seder and the problems that arise when Larry invites this guest.
While Passover may not include all the traditions we are used to this year, these movies can act as a reminder of Passover dinners with family and friends. The holidays are an important time to spend with family, especially during this isolating time. Next Year in Jerusalem, as they say, and, hopefully, Next Year with our families too (covid-free).