Friday, January 14, 2011

Epic #10 - The Ten Commandments (1956)

The Ten Commandments is, first of all, a huge movie. It's directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the great director of epics, and is about, of course, Moses leading the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt, and then presenting them with the Ten Commandments, as given to him by God. Presented in brilliant Technicolor. It’s all very exciting.

The movie stars Charlton Heston as Moses and the voice of God, and Yul Brynner as Ramses II, apparently because he was tired of being the king of Siam. Vincent Price is also in it, playing, as far as I can tell, Vincent Price (He's so Vincent Price-y), and it also features Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Now, I really don’t know exactly who Cedric Hardwicke is, but I do know this: he was a knight. And therefore awesome. You can’t question knighthood, ladies and gentlemen. That’s a fact.

The Ten Commandments actually won the 1956 Oscar for special effects, which doesn't surprise me. The parting of the Red Sea is really quite impressive. Not by today's standard, of course, but nevertheless. Props, Cecil B. DeMille. Props.

The Fire Tornado is, however, far less convincing.

The Ten Commandments starts with the baby Moses (Who is actually played by Charlton Heston's son, fun fact that is), son of Hebrew slaves, being floated down the Nile in a basket to save him from Pharaoh Ramses I (Ian Keith)'s order that all first-born Hebrew sons must be killed. He floats down to the palace, or where ever it is that Egyptian royalty lives, and is saved by the Pharaoh's daughter Bithiah (Nina Foch), who raises him as his own. He then grows up in the court of Pharaoh Sethi (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), who, other than the enslavement of an entire race of people, is pretty awesome. He is loved by the throne princess, Nefretiri (I watched the entire movie and I'm still not sure how to pronounce that. She's played by Anne Baxter, who seems pretty awesome), and really kind of hated by the Pharaoh's son, Ramses II (He's Yul Brynner remember).

Eventually, Moses's Hebrew heritage is found out and he is cast out of Egypt. He crosses a desert, gets married, is spoken to by God, and then returns to Egypt. He demands that the Jewish people be set free (This is where "Let my people go," comes in). Ramses II, who is now Pharaoh, refuses, and seven plagues descend upon Egypt. Ramses II eventually set the Jewish people free, changes his mind, pursues the slaves, and looses all of his army to the Red Sea. It's an Easter classic. There's also some kind of side romance between Joshua (John Derek) and Lilia (Debra Paget) that's sort of interesting, but not really that relevant. Lilia wears a lot of color though, so it looks nice, which is always good in a movie.

It's a good movie. I was entertained by the whole thing. Mind you, it was billed as "The Greatest Event in Motion Picture History," so, bit of a letdown there, but, you know. It was big, mostly. Big acting, big sets, big story. There was always lots of people on screen, and just huge crowds of extras. It's also very long. I actually knew that it was going to be long before I watched it. This was my first clue:

Yes, Netflix sent it to me on two separate disks.

And then it began with an Overture. So I was prepared. It didn't actually seem to drag at all though, I was engaged throughout the whole thing. It was very entertaining, although I was kind of hoping that Charlton Heston would say "Let my people go!" more often then he actually did. Oh well. It certainly deserves the #10 slot in the Best Epics Ever, at least so far, which just goes to reinforce the American Film Institutes complete trustworthiness.

So it is written, so it shall be done.

That's how the movie ends, see. I thought it was clever. Perhaps a bit abrupt.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent first post! I am excited to follow your journey through the American Film Institutes best movies.
    Of course, this story always brings one of Ashley and my favorite fun songs from church.. Pharaoh, sung to the tune of Louie, Louie by the Kingsmen... and now it will be in my head for the rest of the day.
    Pharaoh, Pharaoh.. whoa whoa.. let my people go.. ugh..yah yah yah yah yah