Cecil De Mille’s “The Ten Commandments”: Still Very Watchable

The good words about freedom, not slavery, and the pop-song romantic ardor of Nefretiri (Anne Baxter) for Moses (Charleton Heston) make The Ten Commandments (1956) seem more modern than ancient and possibly imply that God is alive at all times.

A strikingly long movie, De Mille’s epic properly has its characters wait a long time for divine deliverance, but when it comes, talk about an upstaging of the Egyptian gods and the Egyptians themselves!  Yet the latter manage to keep their dignity:  people of all nations can self-composedly endure.

For all its artificiality, TTC is knowingly, skillfully directed with a fun-to-watch cast (Edward G. Robinson is still vigorously credible, Anne Baxter is wonderfully moony, etc.)  There is a lot of good dialogue too:  Yvonne De Carlo’s Sephora tells Moses that no one can look upon the Lord’s face and live, whereupon Moses says, “How many of my people have died because He turned His face away?”  Granted, the dialogue has been called portentous, but in the midst of all the distress and God-given dark prophecy here, what else would it be?

The artist's rendering of Charlton Heston as M...

The artist’s rendering of Charlton Heston as Moses was bulked up to modern physique standards when the DVD was released (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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