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  • Carrie Specht

The Ten Commandments: A Review


The Ten Commandments is a "must watch" action/drama film. As one of the most successful films in cinema history, whatever age, old or young, it’s a movie enjoyed by all. Who knew that a religious film could make such an impact? After all, the appeal of a so-called “religious” film is usually limited to a certain niche audience. While everyone can watch any religious film, those films are usually only popular among those who’s beliefs fall in line with that of said movie. And yet, The Ten Commandments became, and remains one of the most popular films worldwide. According to a wiki source the film has made to date an estimate of 2.1 billion dollars. Which is amazing when you consider the fact that The Ten Commandments came out in 1956 and still holds on as one of the top best selling movies in the history of cinema. That just goes to show that even modern day movies with tons of special effects and computer generated images can’t compete with a classic tale such as this one.

It’s one of the longest films I have ever seen, the length being four hours to be exact. One would think how can you possibly create a popular film that's four hours long? Well, when you consider how so much happened in the life of Moses then it is possible to have such a compelling story that long. But what besides a good story made the The Ten Commandments such a phenomenal film? Simply put, the movie as a whole is a huge masterpiece. The plot is great, the production value is excellent, the acting is as good as it gets, and the special effects are amazing, particularly when you consider the limitations placed on effects at the time.

Back then (more than 50 years ago) technology wasn’t as advanced, so films were limited to how they could be edited and what could be done in post to enhance the "movie magic". In fact, many people of the day hadn’t seen special effects even to this limited degree ever before. Scenes such as the parting of the red sea and where God writes the commandments must have thrown audiences out of their seats just seeing the capabilities of what could be done. At first when I saw the movie I wasn’t as amazed because I was used to seeing better effects. But then I realized that at the time the film premiered these spectacular moments were a big deal because it was something new.

Now that I look back on it I appreciate older movies that have special effects because they had to put more work into it to look realistic. Today everything is all made with CGI (computer generated imagery), often loosing the special quality of the whole experience of movies. Michael Bay films are a good example of this disconnect because a movie over "effected" like Transformers, can become just a bunch of explosions and CGI characters. Although technology can be amazing sometimes it’s a bit overused and you don’t feel as connected to the movie. When Jim Carrey played the Grinch, every day before shooting he would go through hours of putting on makeup. But what made The Grinch so great was the performance delivered by Jim Carrey. The way he moved showed that there was a person in that costume and you can appreciate the makeup and how he looked. If The Grinch came out today, sadly, he would probably be CGI.

The overall production of this movie was great because so much was put into it. The costumes, the sets, and the scenery amazed me. And imagine all the locations where they filmed. According to IMDb one of the places where they filmed was Egypt. The music work also added a good feel to the movie. The soundtrack that played when God gives the commandments gave me the chills. Everything about that scene was amazing, the way Moses is so shocked and the special effect of the fire and the deep voice of God made it a true spectacle. The actor, Charlton Heston played a good Moses, especially with his tone. If you’ve read the story of Moses in the bible you see that he has a specific personality and how through certain experiences, it evolved. I think Heston did a great job portraying that evolution. There’s just seems to be something about Heston that whatever movie he made, it always seemed to be a big popular success. Such as Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes and El Cid.

What I also like about this film is the plain fact that I got to see the story of Moses on screen. When I read I tend to use my imagination to see the story as if it were a movie and I remember being amazed seeing The Ten Commandments on my TV they way I saw it in my mind's eye. Moses played such an important role in the bible. This film really captures the strength and the courage to fight for people and to bring justice out of slavery. It shows the leadership and patience of a strong man as he deals with the people whom he just saved as they turn on him. This is definitely a story that people can enjoy and learn from even if they may not be religious themselves.

One thing that could be a problem for some audiences is the running time of this movie. As previously stated, it's four hours long and for some that could just be too long. I first saw the film when I was younger, and so of course it felt too long. However, as I watched it again when I was older a few parts still dragged, but the story overall kept me interested. All in all, it still shocks me how a religious film could have such an impact on cinema. I’ve always regarded cinema as a secular thing and usually movies that become popular are secular in theme. I guess it goes to show that a good story is a good story. I’m content to know that religious films such as this and Ben-Hur can be successful. It gives me hope that some day there will be another religious film that becomes just as successful as The Ten Commandments.

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