The first part tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, his receipt of the tablets and the worship of the golden calf. The second part shows the efficacy of the commandments in modern life through a story set in San Francisco. Two brothers, rivals for the love of Mary, also come into conflict when John discovers Dan used shoddy materials to construct a cathedral.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
The enormous sets of ancient Egypt have become a Hollywood legend in themselves. The "City of the Pharaohs" was constructed of wood and plaster in the Guadalupe Dunes, an 18-mile stretch of coastal sand 170 miles north of L.A. The sets featured four 35-foot-tall statues of the Pharaoh Ramses, 21 five-ton sphinxes, and city walls over 120 feet high. An army of 2,500 actors, extras, carpenters, plasterers, painters, cooks, staff, and film crew members inhabited the set for three months, housed in a virtual army camp that featured nearly 1,000 tents. (3,500 animals, used in recreating the scenes of ancient Egypt, were housed in a huge corral downwind of the camp.) When shooting wrapped, Cecil B. DeMille simply had the massive Egyptian city sets bulldozed, and buried in a huge pit beneath the sand, where they remain to this day. For years, the legendary "Lost City of DeMille" was spoken of by locals in Guadalupe who had worked on the film set. Artifacts from the Egyptian sets were found in the dunes, and can sometimes be found in local houses in the area. (DeMille even said in his autobiography, "If 1,000 years from now, archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope that they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilization extended all the way to the Pacific Coast of North America.") In 1983, documentary filmmaker Peter Brosnan located the remains of the DeMille sets, still buried beneath the dunes. The site is now recognized as an official archaeological site by the state of California, and it is against the law to remove artifacts from the site. Brosnan has been trying for many years to raise money from the Hollywood studios to excavate the site, but so far has been unable to do so. See more »
When God gives the commandments through the eruption of Sinai, it's clear that the explosion graphics are being played backwards. See more »
Dan McTavish - Her Son:
This time, we're going to take a chance on a leaner 'mix' - one of cement to twelve of sand and rock. With a broad-minded building inspector like yourself on the job - it's a cinch!
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It's interesting just to watch DeMille's first, silent film version of "The Ten Commandments", and the picture itself is pretty interesting too. It is also occasionally impressive, sometimes with the kind of DeMille flourishes that one expects, sometimes with a satisfying dramatic turn. It's quite different in its conception from the more familiar 1950's version, and so direct comparisons are not always possible, yet it holds up well by itself anyway.
Rather than concentrating on the biblical story, as in the remake, here DeMille first tells an abbreviated version of the Moses/Exodus narrative, and then uses it as the thematic basis for a modern morality tale. There are many parallels between the two stories, and while the parallels are occasionally forced, they often work surprisingly well. The modern-day story is similar to many other films of the 1910's and 1920's, but it is interesting and it is told well.
Although DeMille is known for his lavish spectacles, he also knew how to create some more subtle effects when he wanted to. In the modern story, some of the developments are a bit contrived, but the characters generally ring true, and the story itself is worthwhile as well. While the lavish remake with color and sound is probably going to remain more well-known, this earlier version is well worth seeing, too.
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