"The Ten Commandments" is a milestone film. For some, those of us in their 50's or older, it represents the end of an era: Some call it "The Golden Age of Hollywood"; the beginning of the end of the studio system; and the end of a period in which the real founders of the "public art" took, or began to take, their final bows -- DeMille, Zukor, Goldwyn, Selznick, and others.For those of us who saw "The Ten Commandments" on the big screen and in one of the now extinct gilded movie palaces of yesteryear, the picture holds special memories. There is a <more>
sense of nostalgia that accompanies any new viewing of this one-of-a-kind Victorian pageant. For many, I'm sure, the nostalgia extends beyond the film itself.There were problems in the mid-fifties, as in every decade since the real Moses came down from Mount Sinai. Polio, the continuing menace of poverty, the material and spiritual separateness of what we called "colored people", Communism, etc. But . . . there were virtues too, many reflected in the writing and performances of "The Ten Commandments": Virtues like courage, strength of character, personal honor, and endurance were paramount no pun intended . The biggest problem in schools was students chewing gum in class. Today, it's students "shooting-up" in parking lots or shooting down their classmates in the halls. . . America had an identity then.DeMille's vision was, always, of "an ideal". He painstakingly produced authentic looking packages in which to wrap his vision -- embellished by the "glitz" of what was, then, the "ideal" Hollywood portrait: Bluer than blue skies; shimmering, jewel-encrusted costumes; out-sized architecture; dramatically convenient thunderbolts; and perfectly lovely female leads, with make-up invariably and predictably un-smudged. DeMille gave his audience what they expected from an "A" picture. He wasn't interested in realism. His idea was to reinforce values he'd learned from his parents and his brother a noted playwright in a dramatic format which could be "felt" by young and old, alike . . . more a reverence for time-honored principles than the analytical, ironic, and questioning approach dominant in the films of today. There was in the 50's and the 40's a more amicable attitude toward "orthodoxy" -- in all its forms. Hence, the overwhelming popularity of every DeMille production released during that period.After fifty years, "The Ten Commandments" is still impressive visually, dramatically, and especially in terms of the intensity of its convictions reflected in all the biographies of the principals . . . something which cannot be said of many similar big-budget pictures of the same era.One day, someone may attempt a re-make. Expect that it will be visually impressive and less "stagy". But . . . expect, as well, that it will be punctuated with the obligatory mandates of political correctness; an uncertainty about its message; and a healthy dose of Twenty-First Century cynicism. It will be more "realistic" to be sure, but far less "authentic" -- like a perfume ad, physically attractive, but without a "heart".
The eyes of the audience are filled with spectacle! (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
Cecil B. DeMille was a motion-picture producer-director whose use of spectacle attracted vast audiences and made him a dominant figure in Hollywood... He was successful in a genre - the epic - that he made definitely his own, until William Wyler came along three years later with "Ben Hur."In his first epic role, Charlton Heston is cast as Lord Moses, prince of Egypt, son of the pharaoh's sister... As a true prince, he saves a slave's life; as a great prince, he gives the priest's grain to the slaves and one day in seven to rest; as a man of justice, he confronts <more>
Nefretiri with a piece of Hebrew cloth, the key to his origin; as a warrior and in excellent physical condition, he kills a tough and cruel master builder; as a courageous Hebrew, son of slaves, he tells the pharaoh: "It would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage, but if I could free them, I would!" As a man of prowess, he shows his latest methods of combat when he takes on the shepherds and routed them; as God's torch, he proves to be the Deliverer of the Hebrews, their prophet and leader; as the Lawgiver of the Covenant, he is the founder of the community; and as interpreter of "The Ten Commandments," he is an organizer and legislator...Yul Brynner is superb as Rameses, the rival of Moses... His arrogance and swaggering snobbery are well represented... Brynner delivers an intelligent cynical role... Regarding himself as divine, he rejects the demand of this unknown God and responds by increasing the oppression of the Hebrews... Anne Baxter is Nefretiri, the sensual princess who leaves her scar upon Moses' heart... Nefretiri is beautiful as a jewel, and her eyes green as the Cedars of Lebanon... For Moses, she is always ready to lie, to kill and betray... She is selfish in her life as certainly in her love... Edward G. Robinson plays Dathan, the chief Hebrew overseer who confessed to Rameses: "Give me my freedom and I'll give you the scepter. Give me the water girl Lilia and I'll give you the princess your heart's desire." As a treacherous overlord, he charges to the people yelling: "Go where? To drown in the sea?"Yvonne De Carlo plays Sephora, the midnight shepherdess to whom Moses is wed... Sephora couldn't fill the emptiness of Moses' heart, but promised not to be jealous of the memory...John Derek is Joshua, the stone cutter, who is totally convinced that Moses is God's Messenger...Debra Paget plays the delicate flower who quench the thirst of the working slaves... For her the hour of deliverance will never come...Sir Cedric Hardwicke plays Sethi, the mighty Pharaoh, whose words to his son mark great significance: "Who would take a throne by force that he has earned by deeds?"Nina Foch plays Bithiah, pharaoh's sister, who discovers the basket in which Moses has just floated down the Nile...Vincent Price plays Baka the sadistic, covetous, murderous whip-wielding slave-driver..."The Ten Commandments" is filled with tremendous special effects: Moses's staff turns to a snake; Moses turning the Nile to blood; the Passover of the Angel of Death striking all the Egyptian first-born; the tremendous pillar of fire which halts Rameses' men; the Exodus from Egypt; the parting of the Red Sea; and the delivery of the "Laws of life, and right, and good, and evil."The relationship between God and man is the powerful drama in our world... Moses is 'every man,' in his pride and humility, in his courage and prowess, in his love and hatred, in his weakness and confusion,in his conduct and ability...DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" is a moving story of the spirit of freedom rising in a man under the divine inspiration of his Maker... It is a remarkable spectacle with great music, filled with exceptional setting and decor...
I Command You to See this Great Film! **** (by edwagreen)
What was the Academy of Motion Pictures thinking in 1956? Outrageous that 10 Commandments lost to Around the World in 80 Days.The entire cast should have been nominated for Oscars. Here is how I see it: Best Actor: Charlton Heston and Yul BrynnerBest Actress: Anne BaxterBest supporting actor: Edward G. Robinson,Cedric Hardwicke John Derek, Vincent Price. Best Supporting Actress: Nina Foch, Martha Scott, Judith Anderson, Debra Paget.Shockingly, no one in the stellar cast received acting nominations. Only the lord knows why.Yes, as my rabbi pointed out many years ago, the alleged romance <more>
between the Egyptian queen and Moses was overplayed. However, it can't take away from the magnificent acting and quality of this totally absorbing movie.They just don't make movies as great as this one anymore. They'd never have actors and actresses to replace the above great people.In 1956, Brynner did win the best actor Oscar for The King and I. He was far better here. Though, the award should have gone to Kirk Douglas for Lust for Life. Douglas losing, Ten Commandments losing, any message to be learned here? As for the film itself, it should serve as a pre-requisite for those in the industry who wish to make biblical epics. The sets were absolutely lavishing. I guess that opulent would be the best word to describe them. Who can ever forget the dialogue? Remember those princely plots. What alliteration! They just don't open the Red Sea like that anymore.
The parting of the red sea! The confrontation at Mount Sinai! This movie is full of spectacular scenes and images! De Mille truly was a great filmmaker. His powerful imagination is evident in the Ten Commandments. This is his masterpiece. It carries you along on an epic adventure that is as big as the old testament. It captures the ancient, epic feel of the original Bible story. It has several stunning performances that could have easily been cheesy and fake, but are convincing and fascinating. Some say that the dialog is campy. I don't think so. I've seen this movie many times and <more>
have never thought so. It's nothing like the terrible dialog in Plan 9 From Outer Space from the same decade. The romance may be a cliché now, but it was quite original when it first came out and is still interesting. I personally don't like romance, so the fact that I wasn't bothered by this one is really saying something. This marvelous story is wonderfully told by De Mille and I would strongly recommend it.
So big it's in danger of falling over, but it doesn't (by Spleen)
I'm always willing to watch this, and I always enjoy it. Rather than admit that there is something wrong with my taste, then, I've come to the conclusion that it's actually rather good. It clearly has class, and spectacle. Perhaps it has other virtues as well.Say what you will about De Mille's stagy style: it fits the Old Testament. Whereas "The Prince of Egypt" went soft and new-agey when it came to the crunch, De Mille never lets us forget the harsh world events are taking place in. With a powerful and capricious god glaring at everyone all the time, it's not <more>
surprising that people - even pagans - take to talking in speeches. The speeches are in an attractive, flowery style that isn't biblical but has the same aesthetic standards as some biblical writing. And the god really has some Old Testament flavour. Everyone is terrified of him, and for perfectly rational reasons would rather pretend that he doesn't exist. This gets tiresome after a while. You'd think that after watching the Red Sea part everyone would have been willing to admit that Moses courted SOME kind of supernatural influence. On the other hand, you'd be a mug to trust this influence too far.Possibly the best thing about the movie is the way it manages to divide our sympathies without weakening them. Yes, we're on the side of the Israelites. But it's also hard not to be on the side of the Egyptians. The old Pharaoh is probably the most likeable character on display and the young Pharaoh, while he has his flaws, is a nice enough fellow done in by unfortunate circumstances. Moses gains our empathy early and keeps it even when his beard has turned to marble. Only the minor characters are villains - and they're fun, too.Of course, I say all this knowing full well that the entire film is, at the same time, completely ridiculous. Well, what can I say. It's yet another instance of a general law. Simple sincerity can sometimes spin straw into gold.
Every time it played at our local cinemas I went to see it and sat through it at least twice. I cannot remember how many times I have seen this wonderful movie. I first saw it when I was about 11 and marvelled at it as a spectacle. I wept when Heston wept and rejoiced when he did. As I grew older I came to love Brynner's fantastic performance and lust after Anne Baxter only better in All About Eve . Cedric Hardwicke, Edward G. and Debra Paget Hubba Hubba all impressed me. I was sorry Vincent Price was killed so early - what a great villain. It still demands my attention when it appears <more>
on TV. I swear I have seen it enough, but if I catch a glimpse then I have to see it again!! I find it unbelievable that it won almost nothing at the Oscars. At least best Actor for Brynner and best supporting actor for Edward G.!! No costume design? No set design? No Music? A travesty!! See this if you have not already - you are in for a treat- it still stands up. Long but absorbing.
Colossal biblical kitsch, courtesy of Cecil B. DeMille. (by gbrumburgh)
It doesn't get any better than this. You can count on this perennial favorite to show up every Easter just as you can count on "A Christmas Carol" during the yuletide season. The daddy of all contemporary religious instruction, 1956's "The Ten Commandments" is blockbuster spiritual entertainment in every way, shape and form, as Cecil B. DeMille depicts the life of Moses from his birth to slavery to Mt. Sinai in grandiose, reverential style. And what a life!This was the first movie I ever saw at the drive-in. I was only 6 at the time but I can remember the neighbors <more>
taking me to see this, snuggled up in pajamas and stuffed in the back seat. The parting of the Red Sea waters, the turning of the staff to a viperous snake, the green-colored pestilence of death seeping into the homes of every first-born, the creation of the tablets, the burning bush, the booming narrative. I sat in absolute silence and wonderment. This is my first remembrance of any kind of movie-making and the Oscar-winning visual effects and vivid pageantry are still pretty amazing, even by today's standards.Charlton Heston, the icon of biblical story-telling, still towers over anybody who has ever TRIED to played Moses before or since. Stalwart and stoic to a fault, he possess THE look...cut out of pages of my old religious instructions book....the look that radiates magnificence and glory...the look of a man who has definitely seen God. His commanding stature and voice with its slow, deliberate intonation is eerie and unmatched. Yul Brynner portrays Ramses II as if he were the King of Siam in Egyptian pants. Nobody poses or plays majestic like Yul. He's forceful, regal, imperious...everything a biblical foe should be. Anne Baxter as the tempting Nefretiri, Queen of Egypt, borders on total camp in her role, her stylized line readings and breathy allure is laughable now, with posturings and reaction shots not seen since Theda Bara. But who cares? Baxter provides the most fun and its her florid scenes that I now look most forward to whether she's throwing herself at the totally disinterested Moses or verbally sparring with Ramses, slyly pushing his emotional buttons. She alone puts the "k" in kitsch. The rest of the huge cast is appropriately stiff and solemn.DeMille's 1923 original version of "The Ten Commandments" is hardly subtle as well, but still impressive and certainly worth a look. In the 1956 remake, DeMille organizes a cavalcade of thousands to lend authenticity to the massive exodus scenes, while the ultimate picture-perfect frame for me is the three beautiful slave extras posing exotically and dramatically on a rock in front of a vivid blue-gray backdrop of furious, threatening clouds as Moses parts the sea. That vision alone is one for the books.Whenever I am tempted to break a commandment or embrace that golden calf, I know I'll always have to answer to Charlton glaring down from Mt. Sinai ready to throw those heavy tablets at me for my transgression. Charlton not only sets you straight, he makes you BELIEVE!
"Moses, Take What Spoils You Will From Egypt And Go" (by bkoganbing)
When I was 10 years old I saw The Ten Commandments in the the theater which is the only place it really should be seen. At the time I thought it was the greatest film ever. All that splashy color cinematogaphy and eye filling spectacle. The guy that put this together is some kind of special genius. Then I grew up.Today in a lot of quarters this and other DeMille sound films are viewed as pretty high camp. Especially those that touch on a religious theme. It's that dialog and The Ten Commandments longer than any other of his films has more of it. People talking some of that high <more>
falutin' nonsense, together with a good mixture of sex.What a lot of people fail to remember is that before Cecil B. DeMille came to Hollywood he was an actor and playwright on Broadway. He learned his trade at the feet of David Belasco, the premier Broadway producer/playwright of his day. In that Victorian/Edwardian era, ALL the actors, in Belasco plays especially spouted that stuff. I recall Anne Baxter saying that Moses spurned her like a strumpet. How many people do you know who use the word strumpet in their every day conversation? Or Yvonne DeCarlo saying to Charlton Heston that he Moses is God's torch to light the way to freedom and that by the way she loves him? DeMille made one great casting decision in getting the only actor who could play Moses and make it believable. This indeed was Charlton Heston's career role and as he said in his autobiography if you can't make a career out of the lead in two DeMille pictures it ain't happening. One other member of the cast Edward G. Robinson as Dathan loved this picture. Robinson had been dropping in star status since the late Forties and was now doing mostly B films. DeMille, whose rightwing politics Robinson despised, gave him this part and Robinson's career got a big shot in the arm. Robinson was grateful and gave him full credit in his unfinished memoirs. Most of the last half of The Ten Commandments is a running verbal battle between Heston and Robinson who is trying to keep some kind of control. Robinson is almost like the leader of a company union with the Hebrew slaves as members and Robinson sure enjoys the perks of office.The first half of the film is the sex part, hovering over all the biblical jargon. DeMille used an old gambit of his, two men in a rivalry over a woman. It worked in previous films like Northwest Mounted Police, Reap the Wild Wind, Unconquered and now here. Anne Baxter is a royal princess promised to the next Pharoah designate. But who will Sir Cedric Hardwicke designate. Charlton Heston his nephew or Yul Brynner his son? Anne Baxter has Nefretiri has both these guys hormones in overdrive. She favors Moses, but then Moses gets a higher calling.Though he was no director of actors and his sense of drama was generations old, DeMille was a firm believer in two things, fill the screen and make the films move. 50 years later the parting of the Red Sea will still make one gasp. It's not just publicity hype when The Ten Commandments is advertised with a cast of thousands, that is thousands you're seeing on that screen. Elmer Bernstein wrote the musical score for The Ten Commandments one of his first. He credited DeMille with teaching him how to write musical scores for film that underscore movement. This score brought him his first real notice as a film composer and he certainly became one of the best.Given the computer technology available today, one can only imagine what Cecil B. DeMille could create today. Of course he'd insist on some of the same writing, but then again without it, it wouldn't be a DeMille picture.
I have seen this picture many times, including in its original release when I was 4 years old but perhaps the most revealing viewing was in the large theater on the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood. The setting influenced me to look at it not merely as a story, but as a "production," and seen in that light, I was able to understand the conflicts I've always sensed about this film.DeMille was a brilliant producer. He could bring together the film-making elements with a completeness and vision that few could match. He was also a talented visual story-teller. He was also, when <more>
this film was made, probably the longest-practicing director in the business, rivaled only perhaps by King Vidor. He was the definition of Old School.The film is the most curious amalgam of genuine religious belief and genuine showmanship. He knew the message, and he knew how to get people's attention. He brought the two goals together with the simple arithmetic that is the basis of Hollywood business, and is often the undermining of cinematic chemistry and the undoing of Hollywood art.It must be stated that this film contains a few bits of the most outrageously ridiculous dialogue ever filmed. There is something inherently inappropriate about addressing the giver of the founding laws of Western civilization with the words: "Moses, you adorable fool, kiss me." It must also be stated that this film is one of the most awesome and successful acts of film production ever brought off. That was what I realized while watching it within the gates of the Paramount lot. There's a scene where Moses, in his Architect phase, is in his architectural office having a discussion with Nefirtiri. While the two of them work through their frustrated passion, one might notice that in the background, seen through a window, about a half-mile away, 3000 extras are building pyramid. Nobody else made movies quite like DeMille.DeMille keeps this film visually riveting throughout, and it keeps getting better as it goes along. As a visualization of the great biblical story, this is about as good as it gets. If you saw it without being able to understand the dialogue, it would still be enthralling.What ultimately almost wrecks the drama of the film is not the profane ridiculousness of the dialogue or the sexy love-story that seems sacrilegiously embroidered into a holy tale. It is, rather, the genuine piety of the film-maker.The first part of the movie, the story of Moses' search for his real identity and the true meaning of his life, is a great drama. It is well-structured, well acted, and dressed with an inimitable production to give it a sense of reality and greatness. Then, Moses goes up the mountain, listens to the Burning Bush, and comes down gray-haired and radiating divine light.From this point on, Moses has become too holy to suffer any dramatic conflict. As a result, Drama flees from him as though he had some terrifying disease. The movie loses its dramatic center, in the personal sense. The "drama" of the Hebrews escape to freedom and their testing and travails is all there, to be sure, but the personal level of drama, which drove the first half of the film, no longer has its central character.The Drama searches for another center to hold onto, but it never really finds one. Pharaoh Rameses makes a good try and Yul Brynner certainly steals the movie in terms of his performance , but he's not allowed to succeed in becoming the dramatic center because he's the villain. Dathan Edward G. Robinson almost steals the movie, and would have succeeded if he'd had a larger part takes a shot at being a dramatic center, but he's not allowed to because he's a secondary villain.As a result, the terms of the film shift completely. The personal drama set against an epic background becomes an Epic without a personality. And here I use "epic" in its true definition, the story of an entire people. In all, I still think it's a film not to be missed, especially if there's an opportunity to see it on a real movie theater screen. Despite its problems, it's a fabulous experience.