The first part tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, his receipt of the tablets and the worship of the golden calf. The second part shows the efficacy ...
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The first part tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, his receipt of the tablets and the worship of the golden calf. The second part shows the efficacy of the commandments in modern life through a story set in San Francisco. Two brothers, rivals for the love of Mary, also come into conflict when John discovers Dan used shoddy materials to construct a cathedral. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director: Cecil B. Demille, Script: Jeaine Macpherson, Cast: Theodore Roberts (Moses), Charles de Rochfort (Rameses), Estelle Taylor (Miriam,sister of Moses), Julia Faye (wife of pharaoh), James Neill (Aaron), Edythe Chapman (Mrs. Martha Mc Tavish), Richard Dix (John,son), Rod La Rosque (Dan,son), Nita Naldi (Sally Lung,Eurasian)
Most people today have probably never seen this film. It is now available on the 50th anniversary set with the 1956 version. The 1956 version was an amazing movie but in many ways I prefer this one, Cecil B Demille's 1923 original. Many people will be surprised upon first viewing of this film. Demille uses a different approach thin in his 1956 remake. This film has two parts. The first part is set during the time of the exodus in the old testament. The Hebrew nation is enslaved by the Egyptians under the ruthless rule of the pharaoh Rameses. Moses as the chosen leader of the Jews frees his people from the Egyptians. God gives him the power to inflict plagues upon the Egyptians. He then leads his people on the great exodus across the desert to the Red Sea. God gives him the power to part the sea so the Jewish people can cross. Phaorah orders his army to go after the Jews across the parted Red Sea but God had the sea 'return to normal' so the army drowns.
Make no mistake, this film was a major production in its day and very high budget for its time. Demille uses very elaborate sets for this production. The exterior wall of the great Egyptian city is just like the one used in the 1956 version. Many extras were used in the making of this film. During the great exodus, there appears to be people for as far as the eye can see. You can see this great line of people spread out across the desert. Camels were seen during the exodus but as it turns out, camels were not in the middle east during that time period. The parting of the Red Sea in the 1956 version was considered an amazing special effect for its time. I was very curious as to how they would be able to pull this off in 1923! I was quite amazed!! The special effects used for the parting of the sea is just as good as the 56 perhaps better. One thing I really like about the special effects of this film is the wall of fire that Moses creates to keep the Egyptian army at bay. In the 56 version animation was used for the fire. In this version real fire was used using a double exposure technique that I thought was more impressive. Mr Demille was very loyal to his actors. He would use many of the same actors in a number of his films. The women who plays the part of pharaoh's wife and the boy that played his son are both involved in the 56 version as well as the film editor.
The film switches gears totally for the second half. We are now in modern times. It starts with a mother reading passages from the book of Exodus to her two sons. All the drama from the first half was simply her reading being acted out. The rest of the film is a morality tale between two sons. The mother and one son are deeply religious while the other son is a nonbeliever. He makes fun of his brother's silly beliefs so the mother kicks him out of the house for being a heathen. The believing son lives a modest life while the unbelieving son becomes very wealthy. He even gets the women they both like! He becomes a wealthy contractor employing his brother as a worker. However, the unbelieving brother's life will be filed with misfortune eventually leading to his death. The twist in the second half of the film makes for a interesting viewing experience. I like the contrast between ancient and modern times. Katherine Orrison in her commentary states that the modern sequence will probably seem more dated to the average viewer. I tend to agree. It is interesting to see how people lived and dressed during those times. The modern sequence is filmed mostly on location in San Francisco. It is cool to see how San Fran looked back then. The generation gap between the mother and her sons is very evident. This was the roaring 20's! Katherine Orrison gives an insightful commentary on both films but see seems to have a special fondness for this one. I can understand why.
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