Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) is undoubtedly one of the all-time epics in film history. Everything about it was big - the story, the cast, the special effects, the budget, and the length. At just shy of four hours, it is one of the longest commercial films ever released. For decades now it has been an annual television Easter tradition. While the movie has been in the public eye for 55 years and counting, it is unlikely that it has ever looked quite as spectacular as it does now since its premiere.
For the 55th anniversary, Paramount have remastered this classic frame by frame for simultaneous DVD/Blu Ray release. The result is a stunning display of Technicolor and special effects that manage to retain their magic all these years later. It would be disingenuous to discuss Demille’s greatest achievement without noting that it is a literal film adaptation of the story of Moses as told in The Bible.
Having said that however, The Ten Commandments is such a work of art that it can (and has been) appreciated by people of all faiths. The drama at the heart of the story is truly compelling. When the Egyptian Pharoah Ramses I decrees that all first-born Hebrew males, the infant Moses’ mother floats him in a basket on the Nile in hopes that he will find a home. Princess Bithia finds him and adopts him into the palace as her son. The irony is rich, the child who was to be killed is now being raised in the very household that had sanctioned his death.
When Moses grows up, and is one of the most powerful men of Egypt, his secret is exposed. From here his life’s mission becomes to set his people free. After being exiled to the desert for 40 years, where he eventually is spoken to by God, Moses returns to Egypt to fulfill his lifed mission.