The Ten Commandments

Bottom Line: Works much better for those suffering from insomnia and/or studying history vygourously.

Directed by: Cecil B. DeMille
Starring: Anne Baxter, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner

The prelude begins with a curtained stage, on which filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille appears and presents his final film. He does this by informing us that the Holy Bible, though chronicling much of Moses’s life, omits an entire thirty years. Before exiting, he explains that for his 1956 epic THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, a partial remake of his 1923 silent film bearing the same title, he will turn to historians to bridge that gap for the next three hours and thirty-nine minutes.

With the full technicolor, the increased setback, and the whopping length, we expect an epic such as GONE WITH THE WIND: melodramatic, yes, but thoroughly engaging. Instead, we are shocked to receive something completely different: a melodrama that succeeds in its entirety with information, but not much else. In fact, not even an hour has passed before you are just beginning to feel mentally asleep.

I award points to THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, though difficult to watch, for its grand historical value. DeMille is certainly not one to say he knows nothing about Moses. Clearly, a film that goes as far as to inform about, say, Moses’s love life, can carry on endlessly with notice about more important–but previously unheard of–events (and it did).

On the other hand, it would have been much more engaging if DeMille had stuck with what the Scriptures entailed regarding Moses’s story, rather than turning to the historians. Though much of the picture is informative, the information presented we couldn’t really care much less about. Had this been around two hours shorter, I would have hailed it as much as I expected to; sadly, it only works in its entirety for historians and insomniacs.

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2 thoughts on “The Ten Commandments

  1. I grew up watching this film. ABC airs it every year on Easter so it was kind of a tradition in my home. I’ve always loved it and that was before I even knew who Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter and Edward G. Robinson even were. Yes it’s long (3 hours and 40 minutes will test even the most ardent fan) It’s probably best enjoyed over two nights, The perfect example of an epic film. Cecil B. DeMille at his finest.

    • Yes. I guess I should have mentioned in the review that I only watched from the overture to the intermission. That’s not to say that I won’t finish up with part two any time soon–I may even extend my review once I do.

      On another note, it’s official: I am going to see The Artist tomorrow, now that it is playing (intermittently) nearby. I feel so elated!

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