After growing up in a life of luxury as a prince of Egypt, Moses (Charlton Heston) learns of his true Hebrew heritage and God’s divine mission for him to free his people from slavery.
It would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage. It would take a god.
Easter was yesterday, and the go-to movies to celebrate the holiday are usually of the religious variety. The Ten Commandments is the biggest of all biblical epics, focusing on a story that most everyone is familiar with even if they don’t follow the religion. It plays every year on TV on Easter weekend, and yet I’d never even seen parts of it growing up; I guess my family would either be out or watching something else. Anyway, I finally did get around to seeing it, and I’m glad I waited so long to see it as I saw it on the big screen thanks to TCM and Fathom Events. It’s rare for me to see a movie as old as this (celebrating its 60th anniversary this year) for the first time in a theater, so it was a special and rewarding experience. It’s one of my favorite bible stories and one that’s always fascinated me, and this film adaptation was no exception. The movie has barely aged with special effects that are still a marvel to behold, and despite its near four-hour running time, it remains engaging throughout.
Many aspects of The Ten Commandments work so well, such as the gorgeous production design and costumes, but it would’ve been all for naught if it weren’t for the stellar cast. It seemed like half of Hollywood was in here, and the film’s supporting players are just as great in their small roles as the film’s stars, especially Judith Anderson, Vincent Price, and Edward G. Robinson. Charlton Heston’s usual stiff acting works in his favor here as he’s perfectly stoic as Moses, though Yul Brynner practically steals the show as Rameses. But my favorite performance of the cast has to be Anne Baxter as Nefretiri; though she played a conniving sort of character in All About Eve before this, she’s not the first actress I’d think of to play the queen of Egypt, Hollywood whitewashing aside. The actors may be overdoing it at times, and the film itself can be a bit melodramatic, but I think it works considering the story. It’s a spectacle in every sense of the word, and only a director such as Cecil B. DeMille could’ve executed it as finely as this.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Directed by: Cecil B. DeMille
Starring: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek
Oscar Nominations: Best Effects, Special Effects [WON]; Best Picture; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Costume Design, Color; Best Sound, Recording; Best Film Editing
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