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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Ten Commandments [DVD] [1956]
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2009
The Ten Commandments was made in Vistavision which was Paramount's answer to Cinemascope. Not as wide as Cinemascope, Vistavision had an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 which is almost exactly the same as a widescreen TV at 1.78:1. Standard 35mm film was used but it moved horizontally through the newly designed Vistavision cameras, the frames being photographed side by side instead of one over the other. This resulted in a bigger negative area and therefore better picture quality than Cinemascope.
To view the movie as intended you'd have had to visit a cinema equipped with the horizonal projectors. Most cinemas would have 35mm anamorphic prints which would crop the picture at top and bottom to give a scope aspect ratio of 2.35:1. TV of course, would crop the picture at the side to give a ratio of 1.37:1.
Paramount's Vistavision productions had a sharp, grain free look and it shows on this DVD. Ten Commandments is presented here in its correct aspect ratio with no black lines at top and bottom or at the sides.
The Ten Commandments was and is a ROADSHOW movie with an overture, intermission and exit music. In the 50s and 60s a roadshow movie often had special instructions sent to cinema projectionists on how it should be exhibited.
When the overture was playing the curtains were kept closed because there is no picture, the film has a soundtrack only at this point. When the picture appeared the curtains opened and the movie proper began. At the end of the first half the word "intermission" appeared briefly and then faded to black, the curtains closed. After about 15 minutes the second half of the movie began with the entr'acte music. Curtains were closed at this point because there is again, no picture. The curtains were opened when the picture appeared. In roadshow films there was never a title at this point, the second half just began on the next scene. - At the end of the movie after the end titles the film would go to black and the exit or walkout music would play while the curtains were closed.

The Ten Commandments is the only roadshow movie on DVD that I know of that is presented correctly. The screen is black during the overture, entr'acte and exit music. THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. The word "overture" should not be present at the start, the word entr'acte should not be present at the start of the second half and, most heinous of all, there should not be a slide show during the intermission - ARE YOU LISTENING MGM WITH "DOCTOR ZHIVAGO?"

Cecil B. De Mille introduces the Ten Commandments after the overture, he's usually edited out as is all the additional music when it's shown on TV.

In this DVD everything is correct. Those of you with projector systems at home can replicate accurately the presentation of the Ten Commandments at its time of release. WELL DONE PARAMOUNT, FIVE GLOWING STARS FOR THIS ONE.

Some say there are inaccuracies in the storyline. Well, this is a movie and the movies have never been known for their accuracy. It's great filmaking though, made at a time when going to the cinema was a real event. It's all about showmanship. They don't make them like this any more. - Anyway, if you want the true word of God you should be reading your Bible...shouldn't you?
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
It's easy to start running out of superlatives quickly, on the quality of this Blu-Ray Transfer of the 1956 classic; I doubt it ever looked better.
According to Ron Smith, (the man at Paramount who was in charge of the restoration project), the original VistaVision negative was scanned at high resolution, giving an image basically 6000 pixels 4000 pixels, so you've got a rather large file with each and every shot, each and every frame.
The scanner then literally takes a photograph of each frame in the film as it goes by and turns it into data. That data is cleaned up by an army of technicians, before color restoration work by Smith and Yan Yarbrough, from Warner Brothers Motion Picture Imaging completes the process.

When you consider the running time of 231 minutes, you start to realize what a mammoth task this was, in fact Smith himself admitted that he hadn't done a lot of photochemical or even digital work since he started working on it in '96-'97,

No hi def restoration on older films, even on more contemporary classics like the original Star Wars, and Star Trek flicks, is without a down side though.
Crystal clarity often exposes the special effects quite clearly. Effects I might add that might have been cutting edge in their day and in the case of the Ten Commandments even award winning get a transparency in the wash.
Myself, I think this adds to the style of the picture, but some of the more obvious overlaid shots, and super imposing on stock footage, or backdrops can look cheesy.
All that said, this a masterpiece - not just the movie but the rich colors, crisp AC-3, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, and full production complete with Overture, Introduction by De Mille himself, and original Intermission.
The movie runs over two Blu-Ray discs with just the main feature, but also has some worthwhile extras.

If you've seen it, like it and want to know whether it's worth shelling out the extra few bucks to get this fully restored high def feast, I highly recommend you don't give it a second thought.
I guarantee you won't believe your eyes.............5 Stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Screen Epic delivered by legendary Director 'Cecil B De Mille' remains the version of the Biblical Tale
that most if not all consider to be, far and away the 'one to watch'
This sprawling and extravagant spectacle screened with the cast of thousands and impressive 'Sets' with
many well known stars among the cast-list.
Still, over 50 years after it's release, it is still very watchable, standing the test of time.
Plot Outline -
'Charlton Heston' stars as 'Moses' (later chosen to play the lead role in epics such as 'Ben Hur' and 'El Cid')
who when just a baby to spare him the order of slaughter of the new-born male Hebrew's was cast into the
River Nile in a basket by his mother, found floating by Egyptian Royalty and brought up as one of their own.
The young Moses was favoured by his deeds by 'Rameses the First' over his blood son 'Rameses' (Yul Brynner)
''Rameses' is determined that it should be he and not Moses that claims the kingdom after his father dies, also
he craves the hand of 'Nefrtiri' (Anne Baxter) who also favours 'Moses'
'Rameses' does everything he can to discredit 'Moses' who'd been brought up as his brother, his chance comes
when 'Moses' who'd had a hint of his modest beginnings slays the 'Master-Builder' in anger as he was about to
punish 'Joshua' (John Derek) a Hebrew slave.
'Moses' spared execution is cast out of Egypt to wander the Deserts and almost certain death, after many days with
no energy left he collapses close by Mount Sinai, by chance not far away, a 'Well' and a 'Bedouin encampment,
sheep-herders, he is accepted among them and eventually taking a wife, years pass, he see's a bright light upon
Mount Sinai and investigates 'a burning bush' - a message from 'God' telling him what he must do, return to Egypt
and free his people from slavery.Mos
'Rameses 2nd' denies his once brother 'Moses' who with 'Gods' guidance inflicts a series of plague's upon what he'd
once believed to be his people, still 'Rameses' refuses, the final act takes the first born including 'Rameses and Nefretiri's'
Son......this broke the will of Rameses, he agree's to release the slaves, the Hebrew people.
'Moses' leads his people out of Egypt, 'Rameses' changes his mind, he wants vengeance for the loss of his child, his army
now in pursuit, 'Moses' and his people have the 'Red Sea' in front of them, the Egyptian Army behind, 'Moses' again turns
to 'God' for help, the Sea's are parted to allow his people to cross, when the 'Egyptians' follow the Seas close upon them.
'Moses' and his people now search for the promised land, on the journey they make camp at the foot of Mount Sinai where
'Moses' will receive the laws of God upon stone tablets.
During the long spell Moses is upon the Mountain his people drift into ungodly behaviour, 'Moses' eventually re-appears
with the Tablets, however, because his people had forgotten their God they are condemned to wander the desert for a
further 40 years, those that had disobeyed Gods Will and worshiped idols would not see the lands.
'Moses' was not permitted to set foot upon the lands he'd guided his people too, but was allowed to look upon them.
Be very interesting to see the forthcoming film 'Exodus Gods and Kings'
When produced back in the mid-fifties the film cost around 13.28 million Dollars to produce, using the same methods of
production and casting today would cost 100's of Millions I'm sure.
The film makes the best use of the limited effects of that time, this is a superb restoration of the mid-fifties epic.
Features -
* Commentary by Katherine Orrison author of 'Written in Stone'
* Making of Cecil B Demille's epic, The Ten Commandments
* Newsreel - The Premier of The Ten Commandments in New York.
* Theatrical Trailers - 1956 'Making of Trailer - 1966 Trailer - 1989 Trailer
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2013
Picture Quality is extaordinary for a film of its age. The DVD was pretty special but the bluray takes a step further. Would have been nice if they had exported a few more extras over though. Highly recommended to anyone who likes their biblical films in the epic size........
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70 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2006
As a child I queued for 3 hours to get tickets for this film when it was released. It was the custom in those days to stay in the " pictures " for free repeat showings if the film was something special. However this film proved so popular that it was separate performances only and I could not afford to buy more tickets to see it over again.
The back row of the " picture houses " were the usual haunt for courting couples and I am sure that many a Commandment was broken by them and they never got to see the film or even remember the name of what was showing.
During the showing of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS I am absolutely positive that no Commandments were broken by any of the audience as it held our attention for the full 3 hours and 39 minutes.
This was 50 years ago and having just watched the DVD I can honestly say that for me it is still the best movie of its genre. The colour, sound and widescreen adds to the tremendous effects and enhances the close-ups. In the final orgy scene I was amused to see an extra hamming it up pretending to get his leg burned on the artificial fires smelting the gold. As an "EXTRA" myself I tend to look for that kind of thing but nothing else would prompt me to say anything negative about this great story. Todays' special computerized special effects cannot match the ones featured in this movie. I was reduced to tears during several scenes as I was as a child when I saw it for the first time. I got this DVD at a bargain price and the quality is SPARKLING. I think that this film should be released into cinemas again for todays' generation to see a masterpiece in true widescreen.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2010
Let me start this review by stating that I am rather biased towards this film as it is my favourite film of all time.

In the interest of not wasting too much of your time and coming across as a bit fanatical I will keep the review as brief as possible.

The acting is top class especially Charlton Heston & Yul Brynner, yes i admit that some of the dialogue can be quite cheesy and at times OTT Sanctimonous but don't let that put you off.

The epic scale of the production is evident when you learn that the majority of the film was shot on location in Egypt and Sinai and this gives the film a genuine nature. The studio sets and props are beautifully (works of art in my opinion) realised and again add to the overall film.

This is one of Hollywood's golden moments and it must have been awesome for the audiences of 1956 to see such spectacles realised on film such as The Exodus, and the parting of the Red Sea which still stands today as a major special effect.

If you have an interest in The Bible, Religion this is a great movie to watch, but even if you don't the film is one of the best films of the 20th Century and is well worth a viewing.

A good purchase along with this film is the excellent book: 'Written In Stone' which is full of anecdotes and stories of the films production.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This DVD is a true collectors delight - not only is Cecil B. De Mille's last great epic presented in its original widescreen format alongside De Mille's original and very different silent version, but alongside a decent if overly reverential (to De Mille, not God) new documentary with a few decent anecdotes, the legendary ten-minute trailer has been included for good measure.

Sitting in his office, with the aid of a wicker basket, a Van Dyke portrait, two stone tablets and a Bible he occasionally bashes, De Mille pitches "the greatest adventure story ever put between the covers of a book!" He solemnly assures us that Heston was cast for his resemblance to Michelangelo's statue of Moses and to prove it, he even shows us a photograph of the actor standing next to it (they look nothing alike!). One of McCarthy's staunchest Hollywood allies in the fifties anti-communist witch-hunts, he goes on to draw none-too-subtle comparisons between the tyranny of Pharaoh and the un-named forces of dictatorship that threaten us 'even to this very day'(the film even has Pharaoh paraphrase Karl Marx at one point), then promptly switches to plugging the sex and spectacle with the kind of wanton abandon that only the highest-minded puritans can muster; "Moses is one of the world's greatest human beings - and human he was to the point of SIN! And holy to the point of seeing God." Ever the showman, he even pops out from behind the curtains just before the film itself starts to give us the same spiel in case we missed the point and inform us that "The picture runs three hours and thirty-nine minutes; there will be an intermission."

After such a relentless barrage of hyperbole, disappointment would seem inevitable, but unlike most of De Mille's films, The Ten Commandments stands up remarkably well. Filling in the gaps in the Bible's version of events with lust, treachery and other soap opera staples, it is the complete antithesis of the `think man's epics' that followed in the Sixties. The dialogue is declamatory, the style overtly theatrical, often recoursing to striking tableaux reminiscent of the Biblical pageants of Victorian era. Aside from Edward G. Robinson's corrupt overseer, the performances are painted in broad strokes, with Anne Baxter emoting something rotten, Brynner effortlessly stealing every scene with his inate arrogance and Heston, his hair getting whiter every time he has a chin-wag with God, a square-jawed and solemn All-American Deliverer. Even John P. Fulton's Oscar-winning special effects show their age as well as their matte lines. It would be almost absurdly easy to tear it to pieces were it not for the fact that De Mille's implicit belief in what he put on the screen enables him to carry it off with considerable panache. This is an audience picture on a grand scale, and great fun too.

The colour is almost as superb as the original VistaVision Technicolor, the print perfect apart from some slight occasional negative damage in the top right-hand corner of the frame. More hokum than holy it may be, but with a terrific cast and, even now, a genuine sense of wonder to its set-pieces, The Ten Commandments delivers nearly four hours of great entertainment. And the parting of the Red Sea is still one of the great movie moments, matte lines or not. Enjoy!

Sadly, the initial release of the film (distinguishable by its cover of the film's poster art of Moses smashing the tablets with a red border at the bottom of the cover) only includes three trailers for the film as extras. Of the three DVD releases of this title so far, the 2006 50th anniversary edition is by far the best, including a documentary and audio commentary about the making of the film and, better still, De Mille's original and very different silent version, which treats the story of Moses as a spectacular prologue to a modern day story. Since Amazon have a tendency to move reviews of different editions around on their site and this review may well end up gracing the wrong edition, it's the 3-disc edition which doesn't have the poster art of Moses smashing the tablets but instead has a photo-montage cover dominated by an image of Heston's Moses with his arms outstretched.

Unfortunately, the European Blu-ray suffers from Paramount's policy of dropping extras from their international Blu-ray releases - while the US region-free three disc Blu-ray offers audio commentary and three trailers, and the boxed set also includes the silent version and an extended 73-minute version of the making of documentary (all in rather silly novelty packaging in the shape of two stone tablets inside the box!, the UK release only offers the commentary and trailers - and some European territories only got the film itself with no extras.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2010
Let me start this review by stating that I am rather biased towards this film as it is my favourite film of all time.

In the interest of not wasting too much of your time and coming across as a bit fanatical I will keep the review as brief as possible.

The acting is top class especially Charlton Heston & Yul Brynner, yes i admit that some of the dialogue can be quite cheesy and at times OTT Sanctimonous but don't let that put you off.

The epic scale of the production is evident when you learn that the majority of the film was shot on location in Egypt and Sinai and this gives the film a genuine nature. The studio sets and props are beautifully (works of art in my opinion) realised and again add to the overall film.

This is one of Hollywood's golden moments and it must have been awesome for the audiences of 1956 to see such spectacles realised on film such as The Exodus, and the parting of the Red Sea which still stands today as a major special effect.

If you have an interest in The Bible, Religion this is a great movie to watch, but even if you don't the film is one of the best films of the 20th Century and is well worth a viewing.

A good purchase along with this film is the excellent book: 'Written In Stone' which is full of anecdotes and stories of the films production.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2012
There is not much to say about this epic film. You either like it or you don't. Most people who are looking at these reviews know the story and simply want to know about the quality of this US Blu-ray import and whether it will play on UK machines. I am happy to report that it will most definitely play on UK players although you may find the delay in starting a bit disconcerting. I found I had to press the 'play' or 'OK' buttons a couple of times before it responded. Once it started, however, the video and audio quality were superb.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2001
This movie is the father of all epic movies. Overly long (3.5 hours), overly starstudded, overly sentimental and overly sanctimonious, but still one of the most wonderful products off the Hollywood conveyor belt. Including Cecil B. DeMille, who personally introduces the film standing before the cinema curtains (!) and some old trailers, that make you wonder what went wrong since the fifties. Don't miss it!
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