Moses is changed both physically and spiritually, and upon his return from Mt. Sinai tells Sephora that “it is not by the sword that [God] will deliver his people, but by the staff of a shepherd.” Certainly this is a foreshadowing of deliverance from sin to come with the Great Shepherd of the Sheep.

Upon returning to Egypt, Moses confronts then-Pharaoh, Rameses II (Yul Brynner) and commands him to “let my people go.” When Pharaoh refuses to relent, only four of the ten biblical plagues are shown on-screen. But after the plague on the firstborn takes the life of his son, a broken Pharaoh tells Moses to take his people and leave. Viewers will breathe a sigh of relief once the former slaves have finally crossed the great Red Sea that has been miraculously parted by some old-school special effects (the water is said to have been filmed being poured into vast tanks, and then the film was played backwards to achieve the effect of two giant walls of water).

Scenes like this also reinforce the idea of a literal “cast of thousands” overseen by DeMille in a filmmaking era when CGI (computer-generated imagery) was not yet in existence and “people” could not just be created with the click of a mouse. Large crowd shots including real men, women, children, animals, wagons and chariots no doubt required extensive work to coordinate and choreograph.

The Ten Commandments skips over other segments of Exodus until arriving at Mt. Sinai again, where Moses meets with God and receives the Ten Commandments. But meanwhile, back at the Israelite camp, there’s discontent, there’s the making of a golden calf and then there’s debauchery. Upon his return, Moses pronounces God’s judgment upon the people for their sin. And the film fast-forwards once more to the end of an era of leadership—and the end of this cinematic epic—as Moses takes his leave and charges Joshua with bringing the Israelites into the Promised Land.

While perhaps not a first choice as a biblical educational tool for parents to use with children in terms of accuracy, The Ten Commandments is still an interesting film for adults to watch in a twenty-first century world when wayward times while waiting for Christ’s return no doubt echo that of the Israelites. That modern-day spiritual application, and respect for its achievements in filmmaking, still make The Ten Commandments a grand movie experience and a catalyst for deeper discussion even five-plus decades later.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: None, except for what could be wine consumed at gatherings.  
  • Language/Profanity: None. 
  • Sex/Nudity: Various male characters are shown bare-chested throughout, as was customary dress for some people groups in Bible times (Egyptian and Hebrew); Egyptian palace handmaids are shown bathing in short dresses; various female characters wear costumes that expose their midriffs; adults will pick up that Baka intends to keep Lilia for himself and implies that he will have his way with her (sexually)—and later Dathan holds the power of Joshua’s future (death or working in the mines) and uses that to coerce Lilia into becoming his mistress which she does of her own free will to save Joshua’s life.
  • Violence/Intensity: In general, all scenes of violence (or intense moments) are mild in their portrayals. A woman is stuck beneath a stone; a man is whipped, a man is strangulated; Moses’ staff turns into a rattlesnake and Pharaoh’s magicians turn staffs into rattlesnakes as well; blood is wiped around a doorway with a cloth; ominous mist portrays the “death angel” when the plague on Egypt’s firstborn sons is enacted; wailing heard when death angel passes over; Pharaoh’s army is swallowed up in the Red Sea when it closes; soldiers and horses and are briefly shown flailing around underwater.
     

TWO-DISC DVD OR BLU-RAY SET - SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Surround Dolby Digital.
  • Commentary by Katherine Orrison, Author of Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments
  • Newsreel: The Ten Commandments Premiere in New York
  • Theatrical Trailers: 1956 “Making of” Trailer/1966 Trailer/1989 Trailer