Moses, a Prince of Egypt, learns of his true Hebrew heritage and
devotes his life to serving God and freeing his people from slavery.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Written by Æneas MacKenzie, Jesse Lasky Jr.,
Jack Gariss, Fredric M. Frank
Starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek,
Cedric Hardwicke, Nina Foch, Martha Scott, Vincent Price
Based on the biblical story
Oscar Wins - Best Special Effects
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Cinematography,
Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design,
Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing
I was not raised in a religious household, so I was never told the story of Moses. I gathered the gist when I watched Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings, as well as just general knowledge I picked up along the way. I'd always been told The Ten Commandments was the definitive version of this story, but I was intimidated by a three hour and forty minute runtime. It took an Easter/Passover themed podcast to finally get me to put this on, and I am glad I did. The Ten Commandments is one of those films that deserves to be on the GOAT lists. Its character development, engrossing story, and striking visual effects all still hold up, and that is really saying something considering this film is 65 years old.
Charlton Heston plays Moses, typecasting him as the biblical savior (Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, etc.). I was surprised at how restrained he was, as I'd always seen Heston as a hammy overactor. But he kills it as Moses, especially in the scenes he shares with Yul Brynner's Rameses. Adapting the entirety of the Book of Exodus is no easy task, but this film really does fly by, despite its mammoth runtime. It pushes the envelope for a Hays Code G-rated religious adventure, featuring child murder, seduction, and a giant implied orgy towards the end. I love seeing the films that cracked the code, even slightly.
I appreciated that DeMille treated this as an adaptation of a story, which is ultimately what it is. Whatever anyone else takes away from it, the film is just another story. It's a damn good story, too. Take it from a lifelong atheist. You don't need to be religious to appreciate films like this. The Ten Commandments is worth at least one watch, if only for the great performances and visuals.