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  • by David C. Terr

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    the ten commandments movie posterTitle: The Ten Commandments

    Director: Cecil B. DeMille

    Starring: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner

    Release Date: Oct. 5, 1956 (USA)

    Running Time: 220 min

    Genres: Adventure, Drama


    The Ten Commandments is an incredible epic drama based on the Book of Exodus from the Old Testament. Although I'm not at all religious in the traditional sense, I love this movie for the storyline, acting, and even special effects, which seem primitive by today's standards but are nevertheless quite impressive. The Ten Commandments is a moving tale of how the Hebrews escaped slavery in ancient Egypt and went on to form their own nation. Thus, this movie is mainly about the struggle for freedom as well as the price of maintaining it.

    Plot Summary
    The Ten Commandments is an expanded version of Exodus which also includes the early part of Moses' life, namely before he visits God on Mt. Sinai.

    • Moses becomes Prince: After Moses is born, he is delivered in a basket across the Nile to Egypt, where he is found and adopted by Pharoah Seti I and his wife and sister Bithiah. He grows up to become Prince of Egypt, much to the dismay of his brother Rameses I (Yul Brynner).
    • Self-discovery and exile: Shortly thereafter, Moses discovers that he's really a Hebrew and the son of slaves. Once Rameses becomes aware of this, he chains Moses and brings him to his stepfather, who exiles him. Moses barely manages to survive, arriving in the village of Midian.
    • Moses talks to God: Shortly thereafter, Moses climbs Mt. Sinai, where he talks to God after witnessing a burning bush that is not consumed. God tells Moses to return to Egypt and tell Rameses, who is now Pharoah, to let the Hebrews go, endowing him with powers.
    • The Ten Plagues and Exodus: With God's help, Moses sends forth ten plagues upon Egypt, the last being the death of the firstborn of every Egyptian. Following this plague, Rameses finally lets the Hebrews go. Shortly thereafter, he has a change of heart and sends forth his army to try to kill the slaves, whence Moses parts the Red Sea, allowing the slaves to cross to the other side, then closing it up with the Egyptians pursuing them, causing them to drown.
    • The Ten Commandments: Finally free, the Hebrews try to govern themselves but fail miserably. God carves out the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai for Moses to give to his people. Moses makes them wander for forty years before finally giving them the Ten Commandments as well as his five books and appointing Joshua as their new leader.

    Cultural Significance
    Although the story is thousands of years old, The Ten Commandments, which is basically just a movie adaptation and expansion of the Book of Exodus, is still quite relevant. There are still parts of the world where peoples are being exploited by other peoples, and The Ten Commandments should be an inspiration to those oppressed to strive toward freedom. This freedom always comes at a price, however. For the ancient Hebrews, the price was to follow the Ten Commandments, which became adapted into Judeo-Christian law and custom.

    Call me a heretic, but nowadays I think that only four or five of the Ten Commandments actually apply to modern society. Not being religious in the traditional sense and not believing in organized religion, I have no problem abandoning the first five commandments, and I'm not even sure about the seventh one, though the other four still seem to serve us well. In any case, we will always need a law to govern ourselves, and I'm pretty happy with the United States Constitution.

    Movie Clips

    Here's the original trailer.

    Here's the clip of God carving out the ten commandments and giving them to Moses.


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