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The Ten Commandments (1956)

tomatometer

91

Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 32
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 3

Bombastic and occasionally silly but extravagantly entertaining, Cecil B. DeMille's all-star spectacular is a muscular retelling of the great Bible story.

60

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

Bombastic and occasionally silly but extravagantly entertaining, Cecil B. DeMille's all-star spectacular is a muscular retelling of the great Bible story.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 59,190

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on the Holy Scriptures, with additional dialogue by several other hands, The Ten Commandments was the last film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The story relates the life of Moses, from the time he was discovered in the bullrushes as an infant by the pharoah's daughter, to his long, hard struggle to free the Hebrews from their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Moses (Charlton Heston) starts out "in solid" as Pharoah's adopted son (and a whiz at designing pyramids, dispensing such

Mar 30, 1999

Paramount Pictures

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October 12, 2009:
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What do you get when you cross the story of Moses with a "300"-style green screen modern action...

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (3) | DVD (29)

With a running time of nearly four hours, Cecil B. De Mille's last feature and most extravagant blockbuster is full of the absurdities and vulgarities one expects, but it isn't boring for a minute.

March 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

DeMille remains conventional with the motion picture as an art form. The eyes of the onlooker are filled with spectacle. Emotional tug is sometimes lacking.

October 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's the gigantic vulgarity, the obsessive righteousness of the director himself, which keeps the show on the road and suffuses the movie with its daft power.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The crammed contents are linked ponderously in a long, warning movie sermon that has authority but little power.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (11)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It seems as if some films are perpetually being restored, with each new version touted as better than the last. That said, I can assure you that the new DVD and Blu-ray edition of...

April 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Leonard Maltin's Picks
Leonard Maltin's Picks

DeMille's last film (he died in 1959) is also his biggest, most spectacular epic, excessive and lurid, displaying him as a showman--must see for Hollywood students

March 25, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Stirring, even if it's as much showbiz as Bible.

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Bank holiday afternoon fare it might be, but DeMille's remake of his 1923 silent is a marvellous epic of the kind they don't make any more.

March 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

A great big wallow, sublime hootchy-kootchy hokum, peppered with lightning that does automatic writing and an unsurpassed homage to the joys of jello.

March 4, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Still the definitive depiction of the Exodus in the popular imagination.

November 2, 2006
Christianity Today

An epic soap opera of an event -- the running time is longer than any church service -- that still impresses more than it amuses.

May 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

As much a testament and a fixture of traditional American ideals and affections as a courthouse display of the stone tablets, and as weighty and solid.

April 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

...a benchmark of comparison for all super spectaculars, and in its restored, high-definition Blu-ray presentation, it's more spectacular than ever.

March 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing in DeMille's ponderous, yet still colossal, Biblical soap opera.

February 3, 2006
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Still a grand biblical epic that's just a notch below "Ben-Hur" in terms of its performances, narrative drama, and special effects.

April 28, 2005
Movie Metropolis

...there is something touching in the mechanical hauteur of some of the performances.

March 9, 2005 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Is there anyone who can picture Moses without thinking of Heston dramatically lifting his staff to part the Red Sea?

March 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

DeMille's film fairly bursts with color and hugeness, even when the characters sit around on one set and talk at one another -- which happens a lot.

March 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

My, how times have changed!

March 8, 2004 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Heston may as well be screaming about Soylent Green, but damn if he doesn't make for one hell of an inspiring leader.

March 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Audience Reviews for The Ten Commandments

In the 1950's, big, bold ambitious epics were the norm, The Ten Commandments being one of the most famous films of the era, I quite enjoyed the film, but for me, my favorite epic is Ben-Hur. Nonetheless, this film is quite the undertaking to watch, but the performances are really what keeps you involved for the nearly four hour run time. The film has a grand story, and it boasts some impressive visuals, which for its time were quite the feat in the cinematic medium, but still hold up to this day. The Ten Commandments is a blistering picture, one that is beautifully shot, with grand, ambitious storytelling and exceptional performances. This film is one of the most engrossing film experiences that I have seen, and it's a definite classic. However, I must warn potential viewers that you must be committed in seeing this one due to its length, and it's not for everyone either. I enjoyed the movie, and I found it to be one of the best films of the genre. However, I preferred Ben-Hur a bit more. Also the film could have been a little shorter as well. Nonetheless the film is superb in every way, and the storytelling here is ambitious, and it's a compelling picture that certainly is a feat in filmmaking. The Ten Commandments is a near perfect picture that is more captivating due to its performances from its cast, and each actor brings something unique to make the film truly something remarkable. The film is worth seeing if you're a diehard film fanatic that loves all sorts of genres, and in terms of epics, this is certainly one of the biggest along with Ben-Hur, and countless others that followed. This film set the standards of filmmaking even further and it succeeds quite well at grabbing your attention, and it is a riveting, sweeping picture that you soon won't forget. However, it is a long movie, and at times you're anxious for the film to conclude, but you're invested deeply at the same time due to the very good story and great acting that you see unfolds before your eyes. Seeing The Ten Commandments, you realize that movies where they tend to focus on big, gripping and ambitious storytelling and that's the best type of films to watch.
May 30, 2014
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

The Ten Commandments is certainly extravagant. It was the most expensive film ever made up to that point. All exterior shots were actually photographed on location in Egypt. It employs a cast of thousands with 70 speaking parts. In an era where they really had to hire all of those people you see in the background, this was truly an epic undertaking. No computer animation. This is all practical effects. In a surprising bit of restraint, only 3 of the 10 plagues are depicted: the water turning into blood, thunder & hail storm, and killing of the oldest sons. The latter features an Angel of Death imagined as a thick, green mist that creeps through the streets claiming the lives of Egypt's firstborn sons. As memorable as that was, it pales next to one of the greatest special effects sequences of all time that follows the Exodus of over 12,000 extra. The production culminates in Moses' parting of the Red Sea in the climatic scene. Even now it's a visual feat to be admired. It was nominated for 7 Academy Awards winning 1 for Best Visual Effects. To this day, the movie is the sixth most successful ever when adjusting for inflation. It remains the yardstick by which all biblical stories must be measured..

fastfilmreviews.com
May 4, 2014
hobster1

Super Reviewer

With the full technicolor, the increased setback, and the whopping length, we expect an epic such as GONE WITH THE WIND: melodramatic, yes, but thoroughly engaging. Instead, we are shocked to receive something completely different: a melodrama that succeeds in its entirety with information, but not much else. In fact, not even an hour has passed before you are just beginning to feel mentally asleep.

I award points to THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, though difficult to watch, for its grand historical value. DeMille is certainly not one to say he knows nothing about Moses. Clearly, a film that goes as far as to inform about, say, Mosesâ(TM)s love life, can carry on endlessly with notice about more importantâ"but previously unheard ofâ"events (and it did).
February 2, 2012
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

This was Cecil B.De Mille's last theatrical feature,with a running time of nearly four hours(basically the running time of 3 hours and 40 minutes which includes the opening overture,intermission, and exit music),this stunning and most extravagant blockbuster is full of absurdities and vulgarities,but in all aspects this star-studded widescreen Vista Vision and Technicolor spectacle is ravishing,and De Mille's form of showmanship,which includes his own narration,never falters. Charlton Heston might be said to achieve his apotheosis as Moses-unless one decides that it's Moses who's achieving his apotheosis as Heston-and most of the other in the star-studded epic which is based on the Holy Scriptures are comparably mythic. Simultaneously ludicrous and splendid,this epic is driven by the sort of personal conviction one almost never finds is subsequent Hollywood monoliths. The scenes with includes the parting of the Red Sea is one of the best special effects ever made. With its all-star cast that includes Yul Brenner(Rameses), Anne Baxter(Nefertiri), with Yvonne De Carlo(Sephora), Debra Paget(Lilia), John Derek(Joshua),
Edward G. Robinson(Dathan), Cedric Hardwicke(Sethi), Nina Foch(Bithiah),
Martha Scott(Yochabel). The film was nominated for an impressive Nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director(but lost the Best Picture Oscar to "Around The World in 80 Days"),and won the Oscar for Best Special Effects(John P. Fulton,with some of the effects coming from the Disney studios). If you want to see "The Ten Commandments",my advice is not to see this on television(since seeing it on TV around Easter time doesn't do any justice,or for that manner seeing it on DVD),but see this movie the way it was suppose to be seen.....in a movie theater equipped with full 70MM projection and experience it in full six-track stereophonic sound.
November 28, 2011
rayman0071
Mister Caple

Super Reviewer

    1. Moses: Go, proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Moses: The Lord of Hosts will do battle for us. Behold His mighty hand.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Moses: There is a beauty beyond the senses, Nefretiri. Beauty like the quiet of green valleys and still waters. Beauty of the spirit that you cannot understand.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Moses: It would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage. It would take a god.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Moses: What change is there in me? Egyptian or Hebrew I am still Moses. These are the same hands, the same arms, the same face that were mine a moment ago.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Nefertiri: You will be king of Egypt and I will be your footstool!
    2. Moses: The man stupid enough to use you as a footstool would not be wise enough to rule Egypt.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
View all quotes (22)

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