To escape the edict of Egypt's Pharaoh, 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>
Special Effects Property Master William Sapp created the effects that turned the waters of the Nile red. Red dye was pumped into the water through a hose at the point where Aaron touched the river with his staff. Sapp also created the vessel that Rameses' priest used in an attempt to restore the waters. The vessel had two chambers: one filled with clear water, located near the vessel's opening, and one filled with red-dyed water, located near the bottom. As the vessel was tipped to empty its contents, the clear water poured out first, then the red-dyed water. Six vessels were made for the film, but only two were used during production. The reverse shot showing the red water extending out into the sea was created through animation onto shots of the Red Sea that had been photographed in Egypt. See more »
When the Pharaoh's chariots leave the city gates to go after the slaves, some shots of the chariots have long shadows, as if shot in late afternoon. But in other shots of the chariots, their shadows are short, as if shot in mid-day. See more »
[to Sethi, after Sethi came to see Moses, as he was completing the city to be built]
Pharoah is pleased?
With the obelisk, yes. But not with certain accusations made against you.
You raided the temple granaries?
[Rameses puts first weight on weight scale, while weight scale on opposite side, stays up]
You gave the grain to the slaves?
[Rameses puts second weight on weight scale, while weight scale on opposite side, still stays up]
You gave them one day in seven to rest.
[...] See more »
At the end of the opening credits, we see a credit which begins; "Those who see this film - PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY CECIL B. DEMILLE"... and continues in the same style and finishing with: "Based on the writings of (J.H. Ingraham) and THE HOLY SCRIPTURES" See more »
So big it's in danger of falling over, but it doesn't
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 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.
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