30 March 2018

CECIL B. DEMILLE'S 'THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.' (1956) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. (1956) DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY CECIL B. DE MILLE. BASED ON THE BOOK OF EXODUS AND OTHER WRITINGS.
STARRING CHARLTON HESTON, YUL BRYNNER, EDWARD G. ROBINSON, JOHN CARRADINE, VINCENT PRICE, ANNE BAXTER, NINA FOCH, YVONNE DE CARLO, JUDITH ANDERSON, MARTHA SCOTT, JOHN DEREK, OLIVE DEERIN AND SIR CEDRIC HARDWICKE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'Written by the finger of God...'


'So let it be written. So let it be done.'

Ah now, this is the stuff. A good old swords-and-sandals Biblical epic for Good Friday, made by one of the best directors of all time and featuring a cast of thousands such as only he could gather together and direct with precision and panache.

It was said of someone once (I can't remember whom, it's driving me nuts!) that he'd 'killed more men than Cecil B. De Mille,' and it's a reference, of course, to the awesome number of actors and extras the great director used in his epic movies.

This is a wonderful film, De Mille's last picture which he personally introduces, stepping modestly out from behind the magnificent cinema curtains to do so. It's an epic production of sweeping proportions and it clocks in at a whopping 220 minutes, with entrance and exit music and an intermission, also in the form of music. Just like the real cinema, huh? All you need now is a sexy 'Fifties usherette offering you an iced-lolly from her basket and a peek down her low-cut top, lol.

You probably know most of the story from any religious instruction you may have had as a young 'un. Moses, played by Charlton BEN HUR Heston, is the baby found in the bulrushes in Ancient Egypt, after the then Pharaoh issues a murderous edict ordering the killing of all first-born Hebrew males. They were very fond of this particular act in ancient times. You might even say that it was a popular pastime, lol.

Ironically, the little Hebrew baby Moses is brought up in the Pharaoh's palace as the son of the Pharaoh's daughter Bithia, who found him. No-one knows his secret, except for his adoptive mother and the evil old Mrs. Danvers from REBECCA (1940) as Memnet the servant, who lets the cat out of the bag spectacularly when Moses is thirty years old. Blabbermouth.

Moses, now the favourite son of the Pharaoh Sethi, favoured even over the Pharaoh's own son Rameses, decides he can't go on being a slave-owning rich Prince of Egypt. Not while his real people, the Hebrews, are kept as slaves by the Egyptians and treated like dogs, forced to build pyramids and great cities and gigantic monuments with the sweat of their brow.

When the truth about Moses's real parentage comes out, his power-crazed brother Rameses, played by the criminally handsome Yul Brynner, is thrilled to finally have Moses, their father's favourite, out of favour. The Pharaoh Sethi, brilliantly portrayed by dear old Sir Cedric Hardwicke, is devastated to be losing the 'son' he genuinely prefers to the real fruit of his loins.

In every way, Moses is a better man than Rameses. Nefretiri, the most beautiful woman in the Pharaoh's palace, certainly thinks so. She loves Moses, but she's forced to marry the hate-filled Rameses when Sethi makes Rameses his successor. This bothers Nefretiri more than it does Moses, who by now has adopted the Hebrew God and the Hebrew Cause as his own.

Rameses takes great pleasure in banishing the disgraced Moses to the tender mercies of the desert. This will prove to be Rameses's undoing. Moses will return with a kick-ass old-man-beard, a full-length Hebrew robe and a lovely Bedouin wife, and guess what else? 

His magic 'Gandalf' staff is none other than the stick Rameses himself bestowed on Moses when he was condemning him to die in the desert. What a kick in the knickers that must be for Rameses! Moses will never cease to be a massive thorn in the young Pharaoh's side. 

Moses returns to Egypt hell-bent, or should that be heaven-bent, on freeing the Hebrew
slaves from their earthly hell under the hot sun of Egypt. And under the hot son of Egypt, lol, by which I mean Rameses. My God, he's handsome! A fine firm pair of legs on him, and his lovely swishing cloak action could nearly- I said nearly!- rival Christopher Lee's as Hammer Horror's DRACULA.

When Egypt has been beset by the terrible plagues Moses is authorised by God to unleash upon it, Rameses finally gives in and says f**k it, go, just get the f**k out of Egypt and leave us alone. Moses is thoroughly elated. He has finally freed the slaves! Fair play to him.

Rameses changes his mind, however, which leads us to the magnificent and terrifying scene where Moses parts the Red Sea and saves the Hebrews, but allows the gigantic wall of water to come crashing down on the pursuing Egyptians. This was the picture I looked at the most in my lilac-coloured hardback childhood Bible. Who says the Bible can't kick ass...?

I love it when a ferociously-bearded Moses (he's gone way beyond hipster-level-beardy, he's a hopeless case by now, you'd need a garden shears to get to grips with his face-fuzz) comes down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments.

His precious Hebrews are all down below, at the foot of the mountain, having orgies and worshipping a golden calf and engaging in a Bacchanalian feast of epic proportions. For the first time in their miserable lives, they're having some real fun, then old Billy Buzzkill comes along with his two tablets and his thou shalt not do anything, ever, or else thou is, basically, f**ked. Poor Hebrews. I guess it's back to the old grindstone for them so. Looks like they've just exchanged one cranky boss for another...

Vincent Price and Edward G. Robinson are both wonderful as Baka and Dathan respectively, two nasty and debauched slave-overseers. And Dathan is Hebrew, just like the slaves he torments. For shame, Dathan. But kudos to Edward G. Robinson, he was ace.

There are some brilliant and award-winning special effects in the film which were really great for the time. The film is one of the best-known Biblical epics and would make a great family watch for the Easter holidays. The fornicating is pretty low-key by today's standards, and there's no bad language or social media references in it whatsoever.

Switch off the smartphones for a bit and watch a good old-fashioned Hollywood blockbuster instead on being online for the whole of Easter. For some modern kids, it might just be the only way they'll ever learn anything about ye olde Biblical times. Happy Easter and eat as much chocolate as you can get your mitts on. Life's too short to deprive yourself of Cadbury's.

        The Ten Commandments. Don't say I never teach ye anything!

  1. I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have any gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house, wife, or property.



AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com










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