The Ten Commandments
1956 | Drama | 220 minutes | English
The Pharaoh of Egypt has ordered the death of all newborn Hebrew males. Yochabel saves her infant son by setting him adrift in a basket on the Nile. But, luckily, Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah, finds the baby while wading in the Nile. Although she knows he is a Hebrew, she refuses to kill him, adopts him, and raises him in the palace. Moses becomes a Prince falling in love with Princess Nefretiri while battling with his vicious adoptive brother Prince Rameses. Moses notices how brutally the slaves are treated and he becomes their defender. When it becomes apparent that Moses is a Hebrew, he flees to Midian where he is housed by Jethro and marries his daughter Sephora. While tending Jethro’s flock, Moses sees a burning bush. God calls out to him and orders him to go back to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh free the Hebrew slaves. It takes ten plagues before Pharaoh agrees. But as the Hebrew people reach the Red Sea, Nefretiri urges Rameses to pursue Moses and the Hebrews. Luckily, God steps in parting the Red Sea to allow the Hebrews to cross and then closes the Red Sea causing the Egyptian army to drown. In a historic moment in the Sinai Desert, filled with thunder and lightning, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God. But in a decision that baffles Biblical historians to this day, God does not allow Moses to enter Canaan, the Promised Land, because Moses had committed a minor transgression while in the Sinai Desert. God names Joshua as the new leader.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 95%
Academy Awards: Winner, Best Visual Effects (John P. Fulton); Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture; Best Director (Cecil B. DeMille); Best Actor (Charlton Heston)
Foreign Language Press Film Critics Circle Award: Best Director (Cecil B. DeMille)
Golden Globe Award: Best Actor (Charlton Heston)
National Board of Review: Best Actor (Yul Brynner)
The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Included in the American Film Institute’s “Ten Top Ten” films of the year.
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Cecil B. DeMille is a wonderful producer-director who can still astonish an audience after his 50 years in the film business. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is an absorbing and historical record, documented with excerpts from the books of Exodus and Numbers of the Old Testament, the Psalms, and from the works of ancient historians. DeMille’s direction of the action is superb and the various roles are played with feelings by a large and competent cast.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is a moving story of the spirit of freedom rising in a man under the divine inspiration of his maker. And, as such, it strikes a ringing note today.
Cecil B. DeMille’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is, in many ways, the summit of screen achievement. It is not just a great and powerful motion picture, although it is that; it is also a new human experience. If there were but one print of this Paramount picture, the place of its showing would be the focus of a world-wide pilgrimage.
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