Saturday, April 11, 2009

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne De Carlo, John Derek


"It would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage.
It would take a God."


Studio 23




Nothing like a movie with biblical theme to get you into the somber Holy Week frame of mind. Not that this film was depressing! On the other hand it was inspirational and filled with hopeful nuances. Watching this movie was like a refresher course in Catechism (for me). The story of Moses is an uplifting saga. It evolves from his childhood, to his 'royal' upbringing as a Prince of Egypt to his final mission as the leader of an enslaved people into the Promised Land. An added bonus was the phenomenal parting of the red sea scene and the 'presentation' of the ten commandment tablets - thanks to the mastery of the blue screen technique.

It was full of pomp and pageantry with major stars like Heston, Brynner and Baxter in fancy regalia. Their fabulous wardrobe appropriate for that regal era. The ensemble cast gave powerful and memorable performances as they essayed larger than life characters. The set design was ornate and quite elaborate. The cinematography was vibrant with a kaleidoscope of colors. It dealt with topics like jealousy, deceit, intrigue and the reign of good over evil. Although sometimes it veered toward exaggeration yet strangely so, it was convincingly genuine. The dialogue was a bit over the top, felt totally scripted and they were even some scenes uttered complete with sounds of trumpets. Truly grandiose! But since it was filmed in the golden age of the big studios and the hey day of cinema way back in 1956, this movie was deemed an epic. And rightfully so.

Everything about the film was indeed of biblical proportions. But it was also well made and quite advanced for its time. 220 minutes well spent in front of the telly due to the hugely entertaining factor of the film. Plus you get some historical as well as biblical insights about a story that endures for several generations and lives on for several lifetimes.

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