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“THE TEN COMMANDMENTS” Remastered on Blu-ray

 

 

Review by John Delia

Now in one set, the 1923 silent version and the 1956 full color production of the all-time classic The Ten Commandments by Director Cecil B. DeMille. Both films have been fully restored and presented on Blu-ray for the best possible presentation. Released in a special book with three Blu-ray discs and 16 pages of rare photos the Digibook with 3 discs inside. The 16 pages are of rare photos that include shots from the movie, behind the scenes and the lines waiting to see the 1956 New York World Premiere. It’s a bit of nostalgia that the older folks will recall and it should amaze today’s movie fans as well.

The silent 1923 film is presented in clear bright black and white and probably as good as it was shown at theaters back in the day. The remaster here brings the story of the Bible’s books of that period of time in a concise manner showing Moses (Theodore Roberts) already aged and returning to Egypt to try and free the Jews who are enslaved. It then moves on with the warnings to Rameses (Charles de Rochefort) and his refusal to let the people go that leads to death. The finale shows the Pharaoh’s determination to kill the Jews who are trying to walk to freedom and the parting of the Red Sea.

Included on the 1923 disc is a 45 minute film about the “modern day 1900’s” Ten Commandments and how one can stray from believing in them. A mother with two grown sons becomes disenchanted with one of them who tells her he doesn‘t believe in the tenets of the commandments. He leaves the household with a wayward woman and starts to break each one of them. The film does get a bit crude when a woman who is a carrier of the disease leprosy enters in the final scenes so you may want to watch it first before allowing immature children see it. It is also silent and in bright black and white and truly an amazing production considering the time it was made.

Charles de Rochefort as Rameses, Pat Moore as Rameses’s son, and Theodore Roberts as Moses in The Ten Commandments from Paramount Pictures (1923)

In the 1956 version, the film gets lengthened to over 3 hours and had and intermission in movie theaters. Starting with the finding of the baby Moses in the basket by the Pharaoh’s daughter the widow Bithiah (Nina Foch), the film lays the groundwork of the power of the throne. It then moves on to the grown Moses (Charlton Heston) who was raised as a son alongside Rameses (You Brynner), the building of the Pharaoh’s city, the banishing of Moses, and his return to free the slaves. The final chapters beyond the parting of the Red Sea are how Moses receives the Ten Commandments.

Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments Paramount Pictures (1956)

A couple of things to know about Cecil B. DeMille’s filmmaking. For the 1956 film he used some long overtures in the beginning and during the intermission between the first and second part. DeMille narrates the film and he introduces it in the beginning with his feeling of what the movie is about. He also has a fairly long introduction to the crew and cast much like the final credits we have in today’s films. He loves an adventure that is lavish in sets, cinematography and costuming, which is a good thing as we get to see, to some degree, the opulence of the Egyptians.

Bonus Features:

“Commentary by Katherine Orrison” the author of ‘Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. De Mille Epic, The Ten commandments’
“Settings” for both the 1923 and 1956
“Hand Tinted footage” of the Exodus and Parting of the Red Sea 1923 film.
“Two-Color Technicolor” segment in the 1923 film
“Photo Gallery” 1923 film.
“The Ten Commandments Making Miracles” a making of the film
“Photo Gallery: 1956 film.
“Newsreel” The Ten Commandments- Premiere in New York
“Theatrical Trailers”

Both films have little to no offensive content. In the 1956 film there is a scene of scourging slaves and a very action filled chariot race with some violence. The 1923 film shows a shooting scene so watch it first to decide on the very young seeing it. As usual fast forward is a nice option.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The Blu-ray “Digibook” is an excellent keeper for your library.

Specifications and additional video information:

Cast 1923: Part 1, Charles de Rochefort, Agnes Ayres, Theodore Roberts, Lawson Butt, James Neill, Pat Moore, Estelle Taylor
Cast 1923: Part 2 Richard Dix, Leatrice Joy, Rod La Rocque, Edythe Chapman, Robert Edeson and Nita Naldi
Cast 1956: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Bacter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, Cedric Hardwicke, Nina Foch, Judith Anderson, Vincent Price, John Carradine, Julia Faye, Woody Strode, Mike Connors, Clint Walker (Cheyenne Bondie in Cheyenne)
Directed by: Cecil B. DeMille
Genre: Adventure, Drama
MPAA Rating: 1923 Not Rated, 1956 Rated G
Running Time: 1923 Release 2 hrs. 16 min., 1956 release 3 hrs. 40 min
Video Release Date: March 10, 2020
Language: English
Reviewed Format: Blu-ray
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: 1080p HD
Subtitles: 1923 French, Portuguese, Spanish. 1956 English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Distributed by: Paramount Home Entertainment
Restoration: Both films are fully restored including the 1923 version
Released on: Blu-ray

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