The Ten Commandments 1956

The Ten Commandments

Critics Consensus

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

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 37

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 60,247

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Movie Info

Enjoying a life of ease in the court of Egypt's pharaoh, Moses (Charlton Heston) discovers his Hebrew heritage and, later, God's expectations of him. He dedicates himself to liberating his people from captivity and -- with the aid of plagues and divine intervention -- manages to lead them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. A greater challenge comes in the form of the golden calf idol, however, and it takes an unforgettable visitation by God on Mount Sinai for Moses' mission to prevail.

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Critic Reviews for The Ten Commandments

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (4)

  • There is no other picture like it. There will be none. If it could be summed up in a word, the word would be sublime. And the man responsible for that, when all is said and done is Cecil B. DeMille.

    April 7, 2015 | Full Review…
  • DeMille's direction of the action is superb and the various roles are played with feeling by a large and competent cast, headed by Charlton Heston.

    December 10, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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
  • Quote not available.

    May 13, 2009 | Rating: 2/5
  • 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…
  • 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…

Audience Reviews for The Ten Commandments

  • May 30, 2014
    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.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2014
    The epic of biblical epics that not even Ben Hur can measure up to. Heston becomes Moses for all intents and purposes and poor Yul Brynner ends up with the Egyptians seem to have no goodness at all. Overly dramatic and long but this only adds to the fun.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 2012
    I'm telling ya, Charlton Heston just couldn't get enough of those religious epics, man. He just couldn't get enough of that money is probably why, and boy, did these religious, sweeping suckers earn money. I for one would be interested in going to see these epics, just to see how Charlton Heston was coming along on his climb up the religious totem pole, because when you look at the line-up of these Heston religious epics in chronological order, it does kind of look like he was getting closer and closer to God. Here he is playing Moses and getting messages from God, then he went on to see Jesus in passing in "Ben-Hur", then he's actually hanging out with the guy as John the Baptist in "The Greatest Story Ever Told", and by the time we get to "Almost an Angel", bada-boom, he's God (Granted, he was also the voice of God in this, but he didn't get credit, so that doesn't count). Maybe he could have picked a better film to complete his religious chain of promotions, but hey, the point is that he got there eventually, and it only took him thirty-four years, and I'm willing to bet that he would have gotten there sooner, were it not for the fact that his first religious film runs about twenty. Well, at least he hit off to a good start, because this was the first of many fine religious epics for him to feel a little bit miscast in. Well, at least he makes up for that miscasting, or at least drowns it out, being that he's so charismatic, yet even if he wasn't (*cough*"El*cough*Cid"*cough*), he wouldn't at all be this film's only problem. As with many films of this type and era, no matter how grand this film is, it gets to be dated in certain writing sensibilities, boasting several cheesy moments (In all honesty, there are actually a couple of really good lines, but more than that, I needed some nachos to go with this cheese), some of which being more cheesy than others, though those cheesier moments might by result of some faulty performances. For a film of this type and time, the amount of performers who are fairly decent is more than expected, with a few actually being pretty good, yet sooner or later, someone's got slip up, and on those occasions, things get a bit more off-puttingly cheesy than usual. This all, of course, exacerbates the limited emotional punch, though perhaps not quite as much as the bombastic stylistic bloating that may not lay too hard of a blow to emotional engagement value, yet still one hard enough for certain moments to feel more style-focused than substance-focused. Still, what might very well be more problematic than the stylistic bloating is the story bloating, as the film is so excessively packed with material that, after a while, things begin to flow too closely together, with not enough of a break in the story to give it smooth dynamicity, rendering it a tad uneven in some should-be palpable story shifts and even a little bit exhausting, given its massively sprawling length. The film is dated in its structure, being bloated yet smooth to the point of being disengagingly slippery, and with a periodically bombastic tone rearing its ugly head into the works, the film should, for all accounts, ring rather false, when really, it hits home quite a bit and quite often. Well, in all fairness, it has more than enough time to pick up, or I might just be seeing that, blinded by my rule that if a film runs around the four hour mark, then it better be good. Well, either way, this film is just that, hitting much more often than missing, while never missing a beat when it comes to delivering stylistically. As I stated earlier, the film may take a bit too much pride in the quality of its production, but hey, I can't place blame, because the production and art direction on the film is top-notch, with unique, grand, effective and all around stellar production designs that go complimented by fine artistic handling. As for the visual effects, they have certainly dated, and some more than others, yet on the whole, whether it be Moses' cane's transformation into a snake or, of course, the parting of the Red Sea, many of these effects can be respectable as marvels of their time and still often rather impressive to this day, feeling buyable enough, on the whole, to sustain your investment in what they bring to life when they're not emphasized over the substance. Yes, the style may amplify the bombastic feel of the film at times, yet more often than not, it actually intensifies the believability of this world, yet even if it didn't and the style-over-substance was more prevalent, you'd still be hard pressed to not be invested in the story to some considerable degree. There may be a bit too much material pumped into this overlong sprawler of an often spotty epic, yet the story of Moses is quite worthy and immensely fascinating, and with intrigue spawned from director Cecil B. DeMille's inspiration and intensified by the aforementioned grand style and quite the sweeping (If somewhat conventional) score work by Elmer Bernstein, the story is made not just fascinating but thoroughly entertaining. It's genuine fun watching this story unravel, giving you enough investment in it to feel enough of the dramatic weight that may go occasionally betrayed by the film's storytelling faults, though not to where you can't find yourself compelled in the story or its characters. Speaking of the characters, what helps in making them so delightful is the colorful star cast, certain members of which really don't hold things together all that well, as I've stated earlier, though on the whole, this is a charismatic cast that makes quite a few distinctive and memorable characters, even if a few of our cast members feel a touch miscast. Leading man Charlton Heston, in particular, really isn't all that buyable as the legendary Moses, yet his portrayal of such a high figure is riddled with charisma that gives you insight into the humanity of the religious icon and makes him an engrossing central character, as well as yet another testament to how Heston can really deliver when he hits a hit with his hit-or-miss acting chops (They certainly weren't as bold as his actual chops, as in jaw), enough so that he can carry a film of this much grandness and messiness and helpin in making it a very worthwhile watch. In the end, the film suffers from moments of being rather bombastic, a situation spawned mostly from an excessively bloated and sometimes uneven story structure, and intensified by moments of style-over-substance, as well as some cheesiness, leaving emotional resonance to take some damage, though never break, standing strong and engaging, due to its being just so compelling and really brought to life by phenomenal production designs and art direction, as well as some fine special effects, a stellar score and a mostly memorable, colorful cast, headed by a blazingly charismatic Charlton Heston, who stands as one of the biggest aspects behind Cecil B. DeMille's second and perhaps the biggest take on "The Ten Commandments" that make it such a wildly entertaining epic that's ultimately well worth the long sit. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 08, 2012
    The greatest Biblical epic ever made, Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments is a masterpiece. The cast is amazing, and features Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, and Edward G. Robinson in unforgettable performances. Heston in particular gives an iconic performance; as if he was born to play Moses. The set designs and costumes are especially ambitious, and are done on a remarkable scale. The score is also exceptional, with grand, sweeping orchestral themes. Additionally, DeMille brings an interesting perspective to the material and frames it as a struggle between freedom and tyranny. The Ten Commandments is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking and a beloved classic. "So let it be written, so let it be done."
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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