πŸŽ₯ The Ten Commandments – 1956

The Story …

After hearing the prophecy of a Hebrew deliverer, Pharaoh Rameses I of Egypt orders the death of all newborn Hebrew males.

Yochabel saves her infant son by setting him adrift in a basket on the Nile. Bithiah, the Pharaoh Rameses’s recently widowed daughter (and sister of the future Pharaoh Seti I), finds the basket and decides to adopt the boy, even though her servant, Memnet, recognizes that the child is Hebrew. Bithiah names the baby Moses.

Prince Moses grows up to become a successful general, winning a war with Ethiopia and establishing an alliance. Moses and Nefretiri fall in love, but she must marry the next Pharaoh to preserve the royal line. While working on the building of a city for Pharaoh Seti I’s jubilee, Moses meets the stonecutter Joshua, who tells him of the Hebrew God.

Moses saves an elderly woman from being crushed, not knowing that she is his biological mother, Yochabel, and he reprimands the taskmaster and overseer Baka.

Moses reforms the treatment of slaves on the project, but Prince Rameses, Moses’s adoptive brother and Seti’s son, charges him with planning an insurrection. Moses says he is making his workers more productive, making Rameses wonder if Moses is the man the Hebrews are calling the Deliverer.

Nefretiri learns from Memnet that Moses is the son of Hebrew slaves. She kills Memnet, but reveals the story to Moses after he finds the piece of Levite cloth he was wrapped in as a baby, which Memnet had kept. Moses follows Bithiah to Yochabel’s house, where he meets his biological mother, brother Aaron, and sister Miriam.

Moses learns more about the slaves by working with them. Nefretiri urges him to return to the palace, so that he may help his people when he becomes pharaoh, to which he agrees after he completes a final task. Moses saves Joshua from death by killing Baka, telling Joshua that he, too, is Hebrew. The confession is witnessed by the Hebrew overseer Dathan, who then reports to Prince Rameses.

After being arrested, Moses explains that he is not the Deliverer, but would free the slaves if he could. Seti I declares Prince Rameses his sole heir, and Rameses banishes Moses to the desert. At this time, Moses learns of the death of his mother.

Moses makes his way across the desert to a well in Midian. After defending seven sisters from Amalekites, Moses is housed with the girls’ father Jethro, a Bedouin sheik, who worships the God of Abraham. Moses marries Jethro’s eldest daughter Sephora. Later, he finds Joshua, who has escaped from the hard labor imposed on the Hebrews in Egypt. While herding, Moses sees the burning bush on the summit of Mount Sinai and hears the voice of God. Moses returns to Egypt to free the Hebrews.

Moses comes before Rameses, now Pharaoh Rameses II, to win the slaves’ freedom, turning his staff into a cobra. Jannes performs the same trick with his staves, but Moses’s snake swallows his. Rameses prohibits straw from being provided to the Hebrews to make their bricks. Nefretiri rescues Moses from being stoned to death by the Hebrews wherein he reveals that he is married.

Egypt is visited by plagues. Moses turns the river Nile to blood at a festival of Khnum, and brings burning hail down upon Pharaoh’s palace. Moses warns him that the next plague to fall upon Egypt will be summoned by Pharaoh himself. Enraged at the plagues, Rameses orders that all first-born male Hebrews will die, but a cloud of death instead kills all the first-born of Egypt, including the child of Rameses and Nefretiri. Despairing at the loss of his heir, Pharaoh exiles the Hebrews, who begin the Exodus from Egypt.

After being taunted by Nefretiri, Rameses takes his chariots and pursues the Hebrews to the Red Sea. Moses uses God’s help to stop the Egyptians with a pillar of fire, and parts the Red Sea. After the Hebrews make it to safety, Moses releases the walls of water, drowning the Egyptian army. A devastated Rameses returns empty-handed to Nefretiri, stating that he now acknowledges Moses’s god as God.

Moses again ascends the mountain with Joshua. He sees the Ten Commandments created by God in two stone tablets. Meanwhile, an impatient Dathan tells the people that Moses is dead and urges a reluctant Aaron to construct a golden calf idol. A wild saturnalia occurs and a decadent orgy is held by most of the Hebrews.

After God informs him of the Hebrews’ fall into debauchery, Moses descends from the mountain with Joshua. Enraged at the sight of decadence, he deems the Hebrews unworthy and smashes the tablets at the golden calf.Β The calf explodes, killing Dathan and the wicked revelers.Β The remaining Hebrews are forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

An elderly Moses later leads the Hebrews towards Canaan.Β However, he cannot enter the Promised land because of a previous disobedience to the Lord.Β He instead names Joshua as leader, and bids farewell to the Hebrews at Mount Nebo …

Credits :

  • Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
  • Screenplay by Aeneas MacKenzie, Jesse L. Lasky, Jr, Jack Gariss and Fredric M. Frank
  • Based on Prince of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson Pillar of Fire by J. H. Ingraham
  • On Eagle’s Wings by A. E. Southon Book of Exodus
  • Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
  • Narrated by Cecil B. DeMille
  • Cinematography : Loyal Griggs
  • Edited by Anne Bauchens
  • Music by Elmer Bernstein
  • Production Company : Motion Picture Associates
  • Distributed by Paramount Pictures
  • Release Date : November 8, 1956

Cast :

  • Charlton Heston as Moses (and the voice of God at the Burning Bush)
  • Yul Brynner as Rameses II
  • Anne Baxter as Nefretiri
  • Edward G. Robinson as Dathan
  • Yvonne De Carlo as Sephora
  • Debra Paget as Lilia
  • John Derek as Joshua
  • Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Seti I
  • Nina Foch as Bithiah
  • Martha Scott as Yochabel
  • Judith Anderson as Memnet
  • Vincent Price as Baka
  • John Carradine as Aaron
  • Olive Deering as Miriam
  • Douglass Dumbrille as Jannes
  • Frank de Kova as Abiram
  • Henry Wilcoxon as Pentaur
  • Eduard Franz as Jethro
  • Donald Curtis as Mered
  • Lawrence Dobkin as Hur Ben Caleb
  • H. B. Warner as Amminadab
  • Julia Faye as Elisheba
  • Lisa Mitchell, Noelle Williams, Joanna Merlin, Pat Richard, Joyce Vanderveen, and Diane Hall as Jethro’s Daughters
  • Abbas El Boughdadly as Rameses’ Charioteer
  • Cavalry Corps, Egyptian Armed Forces as Pharaoh’s Chariot Host
  • Fraser Heston as The Infant Moses
  • John Miljan as The Blind One
  • Francis J. McDonald as Simon
  • Ian Keith as Rameses I
  • Paul De Rolf as Eleazar
  • Woodrow Strode as King of Ethiopia
  • Tommy Duran as Gershom
  • Eugene Mazzola as Rameses’ Son (Amun)
  • Ramsay Hill as Korah
  • Joan Woodbury as Korah’s Wife
  • Esther Brown as Princess Tharbis
  • Babette Bain as Little Miriam
  • Kathy Garver as Rachel

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