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 ... See full summary »
Cecil B. DeMille
Charles de Rochefort,
To escape the edict of Egypt's Pharoah, Rameses I, condemning all newborn Hebrew males, the infant Moses is set adrift on the Nile in a reed basket. Saved by the pharaoh's daughter Bithiah, he is adopted by her and brought up in the court of her brother, Pharaoh Seti. Moses gains Seti's favor and the love of the throne princess Nefertiri, as well as the hatred of Seti's son, Rameses. When his Hebrew heritage is revealed, Moses is cast out of Egypt, and makes his way across the desert where he marries, has a son and is commanded by God to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery. In Egypt, Moses' fiercest enemy proves to be not Rameses, but someone near to him who can 'harden his heart'. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Before opening credits at of the theaters director, movie began in the theaters, director and producer, Cecil B. DeMille walked out from behind curtains, to a microphone and gave a speech, introducing the film saying: "Ladies and gentlemen, young and old, this may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the film begins, but we have an unusual subject, the story of the birth of freedom, the story of Moses. As many of you know, the Holy Bible omits some 30 years of the life of Moses' life from when he was a three-months old baby, and was found in the bulrushes by, by Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh and adopted into the court of Egypt, until he learned that he was Hebrew and killed the Egyptian. To fill in those missing years, we turn to ancient historians, Philo and Josephus. Philo wrote at the time Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth and Josephus wrote some 50 years later and watched the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. These historians had access to had access to documents long since burnt, destroyed - or perhaps lost, like the Dead Sea Scrolls. The theme of this picture is whether man ought to be ruled by God's law, or whether by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the state or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today. Our intention was not to create a story, but to be worthy of the divinely inspired story, created 3,000 years ago. The story takes three hours and thirty-nine minutes to unfold. There will be an intermission. Thank you for your attention." See more »
Rameses stands in front of the Saqarra pyramids, with the Nile in the background and deports Moses into the desert. Unfortunately this will send Moses due west into the Sahara, instead of east across the Sinai. See more »
[just after Bithiah drew Infant Moses, off of the Nile River]
You will be the glory of Egypt, my son, mighty in words and deeds. Kings shall bow before you. Your name will live when the pyramids are dust. And... because I drew you from the water, you shall be called "Moses."
[in pride of finding him]
Moses! Moses! Moses.
[while speaking, Bithiah, gently lifted lnfant Moses up in the air, for five to ten seconds and then gently lowered him back down, into her arms]
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This film does not end with the credit "The End", but with the written line "So it was written, so it shall be done". See more »
"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 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".
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