Home Video Picks & Passes 03.28.21
‘The Ten Commandments’ is a ‘pick.’
The Ten Commandments (1956) — PICK
Just in time for Easter, Cecil B. DeMille’s classic The Ten Commandments celebrates 65 years with a new three-disc 4K Ultra HD / Blu-ray edition, with the whole film on the 4K disc and two Blu-rays splitting the film. Both versions include an invaluable, highly informative commentary track by Katherine Orrison, author of Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments, also available in earlier home-video editions. Not in this edition: DeMille’s 1923 silent The Ten Commandments (included, with its own commentary track by Orrison, in previous editions) or the making-of documentary The Ten Commandments: Making Miracles offered 10 years ago in the 55th-anniversary edition.
The film itself was DeMille’s magnum opus, suffused with all his considerable talent for archaic staginess, melodramatic pageantry and opulent spectacle. Dated even in its day, it has something of the world of silent film about it. Yet an aura of King-Jamesesque authority and grandeur hangs over it, with Charlton Heston’s statuesque presence and rumbling line readings completing the effect. It’s a 1950s American take on the Exodus, both Christian and Protestant. For good and for ill, it’s as much a testament and a fixture of traditional American ideals and affections as a courthouse display of the stone tablets, and as weighty and solid.
CAVEAT SPECTATOR: Stylized violence, oppression of slaves and torture; melodramatic romantic complications; mild sensuality. Older kids and up.