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The Ten Commandments (1923)

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 »

Director:

Cecil B. DeMille (as Cecil B. De Mille)

Writer:

Jeanie Macpherson (story)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Theodore Roberts ... Moses - The Lawgiver
Charles de Rochefort ... Rameses - the Magnificent: Prologue (as Charles De Roche)
Estelle Taylor ... Miriam - The Sister of Moses
Julia Faye ... The Wife of Pharaoh - Prologue
Pat Moore Pat Moore ... The Son of Pharaoh - Prologue (as Terrence Moore)
James Neill ... Aaron - Brother of Moses
Lawson Butt ... Dathan - The Discontented
Clarence Burton Clarence Burton ... The Taskmaster - Prologue
Noble Johnson ... The Bronze Man - Prologue
Edythe Chapman ... Mrs. Martha McTavish
Richard Dix ... John McTavish - Her Son
Rod La Rocque ... Dan McTavish - Her Son
Leatrice Joy ... Mary Leigh
Nita Naldi ... Sally Lung - a Eurasian
Robert Edeson ... Redding - an Inspector
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Mightiest Dramatic Spectacle of All the Ages.


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 November 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die zehn Gebote See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,357,807

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,156,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Black and White | Color (2-strip Technicolor) (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The effect of the parting of the Red Sea was created by placing two blocks of blue gelatin side-by-side, heating them until they melted...then running the footage in reverse. See more »

Goofs

While lying in the wrecked cathedral, dying, Mother McTavish moves her head, and her hair does not move with it as it should. She is clearly wearing a wig. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Martha McTavish: Whatever you've done is my fault because I taught you to fear the Lord but never to love Him, and LOVE is the most important thing.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Night at the Movies: The Gigantic World of Epics (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

 
a great silent spectacle
12 May 2006 | by dav07dan02See all my reviews

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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