|The Ten Commandments|
|Directed by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Story by||Jeanie MacPherson|
|Produced by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Edited by||Anne Bauchens|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Budget||$1.5 million |
|Box office||$4.2 million  |
The Ten Commandments is a 1923 American silent religious epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Written by Jeanie MacPherson, the film is divided into two parts: a prologue recreating the biblical story of the Exodus and a modern story concerning two brothers and their respective views of the Ten Commandments.
Lauded for its "immense and stupendous" scenes, use of Technicolor process 2, and parting of the Red Sea sequence,  the expensive film proved to be a box-office hit upon release.  It is the first in DeMille's biblical trilogy, followed by The King of Kings (1927) and The Sign of the Cross (1932).
The Ten Commandments is one of many works from 1923 that entered the public domain in the United States in 2019. 
The film is divided into two parts: the Prologue, which consists of the epic tale of Moses, and the Story, set in a modern setting and involving living by the lessons of the commandments.
The opening statement explains that modern society mocked and laughed at Judeo-Christian morality until it witnessed the horrors of World War I; it then beseeches the viewer to turn back to the Ten Commandments, describing them as "the fundamental principles without which mankind cannot live together. They are not laws—they are the LAW." From there, the Book of Exodus is recounted, starting from just after the ninth plague.
After their flight from Egypt, and the Crossing of the Red Sea, Moses climbs Mount Sinai, where he witnesses the ten commandments given as writing in the sky, and which he then manually carves into stone tablets. When he returns, he finds that the Israelites have fallen into debauchery and built a golden calf to worship. Furiously, he smashes the commandments, deeming the Israelites unworthy. An Israelite man and woman seducing each other find, to the horror of both, that the woman has hideous sores covering her hands and is now unclean, prompting her to beg Moses to be cleansed. Moses calls on the power of God and the calf is destroyed with lightning.
Two brothers, John and Dan McTavish, live with their mother Martha, a believer in Biblical inerrancy. The two brothers make opposite decisions; John follows his mother's teaching of the Ten Commandments and becomes a carpenter living on meager earnings, and Dan, now an avowed atheist who is convinced that the Commandments never offer him anything, vows to break every one of them and rise to the top.
Martha evicts Dan from her house. He stops for a bite to eat at a lunch wagon. There, Mary, an impoverished but beautiful young woman, steals a bite of Dan's sandwich and triggers a madcap chase after her. She takes refuge in the McTavish house, where John convinces his mother to take Mary in for the night. John also convinces Dan to set aside his grievance and stay; he also introduces Dan to Mary. Dan quickly wins Mary over with his freewheeling ways. Martha's strict observance of the Sabbath causes friction when Dan and Mary begin dancing on a Sunday, and, although John tries to convince his mother to show grace, Dan and Mary decide it is time to run off together.
Three years later, Dan has become a corrupt contractor. He earns a contract to build a massive cathedral and decides to cut the amount of cement in the concrete to dangerously low levels, pocketing the money saved and becoming very rich. He puts John, still a bachelor, in charge of construction, hoping to use him as a conduit to provide the gifts to their mother that she refuses to accept from Dan. Dan cheats on Mary with Sally, a Eurasian adulteress. One day, Martha comes to visit John at his work site; a wall collapses on her. Fatally injured, with her last words, she tells Dan that she spent too much time trying to teach him to fear God and not enough time on God's love.
Now out of money, Dan learns that a muckraker tabloid has threatened to expose his operation. His business partner recommends a $25,000 bribe to stop publication, but lacking the funds, Dan instead attempts suicide – his partner stops the attempt, solely because he refuses to take the fall alone, and demands the money. He goes to Sally's brothel to take back a set of expensive pearls he gave her, but Sally refuses and reveals herself to have smuggled herself into the country from Molokai through a contraband jute shipment and is thus infected with leprosy, thus likely infecting Dan as well. In a rage, he kills Sally and attempts to flee to Mexico on a motorboat (the S.S. Defiance), but rough weather sends him off course and he crashes into a rocky island. His dead body is seen among the wreckage. Mary, fearing herself also infected, stops by John's office to say goodbye, but John insists on taking her in. As he reads Mary the New Testament story of Jesus healing the lepers (re-enacted on screen, with Jesus shown only from behind), a light shows Mary's hands not to be scarred at all, and that her perceived scars had disappeared in the light – a metaphor for the healing salvation of Christ.
Throughout the film, the visual motif of the tablets of the commandments appears in the sets, with a particular commandment appearing on them when it is relevant to the story.
The idea for the film was based upon the winning submission to a contest in which the public suggested ideas for DeMille's next film.  The winner was F. C. Nelson of Lansing, Michigan; the first line of his suggestion read: "You cannot break the Ten Commandments —they will break you."  Production on the film started on May 21, 1923, and ended on August 16, 1923. 
Jeanie MacPherson, the film's screenwriter, first thought to "interpret the Commandments in episodic form".  Both she and DeMille eventually decided on an unusual two-part screenplay: a biblical prologue and a modern story demonstrating the consequences of breaking the Ten Commandments.  In a treatment for the film, MacPherson described the four main characters of the modern story:
There are four people in the modern story of The Ten Commandments, and they view these Commandments in four different ways. There is Mrs. McTavish, the mother, who keeps the Commandments the wrong way. She is narrow. She is bigoted. She is bound with ritual. She is a representative of orthodoxy, yet withal she is a fine, clean, strong woman just like dozens we all know.
There is a girl, Mary Leigh, who doesn't bother about the Ten Commandments at all. She is a good kid, but she has spent so much time working that she hasn't learned the Ten Commandments...
Dan McTavish knows the Ten Commandments, but defies them.
John McTavish is a garden variety of human being, which believes the Ten Commandments as unchanging, immutable laws of the universe. He is not a sissy or a goody-goody, he is a regular fellow, an ideal type of man of high and steadfast principles, who believes the Commandments are as practicable in 1923 as they were in the time of Moses. 
The Exodus scenes were filmed at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes in northern Santa Barbara County.  The film location was originally chosen because its immense sand dunes provided a superficial resemblance to the Egyptian desert. Rumor had it that after the filming was complete, the massive sets – which included four 35-foot-tall (11 m) Pharaoh statues, 21 sphinxes, and gates reaching a height of 110 feet, which were built by a small army of 1,600 workers – were dynamited and buried in the sand. Instead, the wind, rain and sand at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes likely collapsed and buried a large part of the set under the ever-shifting dunes. The statues and sphinxes are in roughly the same place they were during filming. In 2012, archaeologists uncovered the head of one of the prop sphinxes; a 2014 recovery effort showed the body of that sphinx to have deteriorated significantly, but a second better-preserved sphinx was discovered and excavated.   The effort to locate and excavate the set was the subject of a 2016 documentary, The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille.  [ full citation needed ]
The parting of the Red Sea scene was shot in Seal Beach, California.  The visual effect of keeping the walls of water apart while the Israelites walked through was accomplished with a slab of Jell-O that was sliced in two and filmed close up as it jiggled. This shot was then combined with live-action footage of Israelites walking into the distance to create the illusion.  
Portions of the modern story were filmed in San Francisco, with the cathedral building sequence filmed at the then under construction Sts. Peter and Paul Church on Filbert Street and the adjoining Washington Square.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures, The Ten Commandments premiered at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre (in Hollywood) on December 4, 1923.  
On its release, critics praised The Ten Commandments overall; however, the part of the film set in modern times received mixed reviews.  Variety , for example, declared the opening scenes alone worth the admission price, but found the remainder of the film disappointing by comparison: "The opening Biblical scenes of The Ten Commandments are irresistible in their assembly, breadth, color and direction [...] They are immense and stupendous, so big the modern tale after that seems puny." 
According to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 83% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 6 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. 
The Ten Commandments became the highest-grossing film of 1923. The film's box-office returns held the Paramount revenue record for 25 years until it was broken by other DeMille films.  The film competed at the box office with Fox's The Shepherd King , and won out overall.
The movie was banned in the 1930s in China under a category of "superstitious films" due to its religious subject matter involving gods and deities. 
DeMille directed a second, expanded version of the biblical story in 1956. For the later version, DeMille dropped the modern-day storyline in favor of profiling more of Moses' early life. In 2006, the 1923 film was released on DVD as an extra feature on the 50th Anniversary DVD release of the 1956 film. In the DVD commentary with Katherine Orrison included with the 1923 film, she states that DeMille refilmed several sequences nearly shot-for-shot for the new version, and also had set pieces constructed for the later film that were near-duplicates of what he had used in 1923.  On March 29, 2011, Paramount released a new Blu-ray Disc with the 6-disc box set. 
Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director, producer and actor. Between 1914 and 1958, he made 70 features, both silent and sound films. He is acknowledged as a founding father of the American cinema and the most commercially successful producer-director in film history. His films were distinguished by their epic scale and by his cinematic showmanship. His silent films included social dramas, comedies, Westerns, farces, morality plays, and historical pageants. He was an active Freemason and member of Prince of Orange Lodge #16 in New York City.
The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Bible. It narrates the story of the Exodus, in which the Israelites leave slavery in Biblical Egypt through the strength of Yahweh, who has chosen them as his people. The Israelites then journey with the prophet Moses to Mount Sinai, where Yahweh gives the 10 commandments and they enter into a covenant with Yahweh, who promises to make them a "holy nation, and a kingdom of priests" on condition of their faithfulness. He gives them their laws and instructions to build the Tabernacle, the means by which he will come from heaven and dwell with them and lead them in a holy war to possess the land of Canaan, which had earlier, according to the story of Genesis, been promised to the seed of Abraham.
Moses is considered the most important prophet in Judaism and one of the most important prophets in Christianity, Islam, the Druze faith, the Baháʼí Faith and other Abrahamic religions. According to both the Bible and the Quran, Moses was the leader of the Israelites and lawgiver to whom the authorship, or "acquisition from heaven", of the Torah is attributed.
The Ten Commandments is a 1956 American epic religious drama film produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille, shot in VistaVision, and released by Paramount Pictures. Based on the 1949 novel Prince of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, the 1859 novel Pillar of Fire by J. H. Ingraham, the 1937 novel On Eagle's Wings by A. E. Southon, and the Book of Exodus, The Ten Commandments dramatizes the biblical story of the life of Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince who becomes the deliverer of his real brethren, the enslaved Hebrews, and thereafter leads the Exodus to Mount Sinai, where he receives, from God, the Ten Commandments. The film stars Charlton Heston in the lead role, Yul Brynner as Rameses, Anne Baxter as Nefretiri, Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, Yvonne De Carlo as Sephora, Debra Paget as Lilia, and John Derek as Joshua; and features Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Seti I, Nina Foch as Bithiah, Martha Scott as Yochabel, Judith Anderson as Memnet, and Vincent Price as Baka, among others.
Anne Baxter was an American actress, star of Hollywood films, Broadway productions, and television series. She won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and was nominated for an Emmy.
According to the Bible, Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and mother of Miriam, Aaron and Moses. She was the wife of Amram, as well as his aunt. No details are given concerning her life. According to Jewish legend, she is buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs, in Tiberias. In the New Testament, she is praised for her faith in God.
Samson and Delilah is a 1949 American romantic biblical drama film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and released by Paramount Pictures. It depicts the biblical story of Samson, a strongman whose secret lies in his uncut hair, and his love for Delilah, the woman who seduces him, discovers his secret, and then betrays him to the Philistines. It stars Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr in the title roles, George Sanders as the Saran, Angela Lansbury as Semadar, and Henry Wilcoxon as Prince Ahtur.
The Plagues of Egypt, in the account of the book of Exodus, are ten disasters inflicted on Biblical Egypt by the God of Israel in order to convince the Pharaoh to emancipate the enslaved Israelites, each of them confronting Pharaoh and one of his Egyptian gods; they serve as "signs and marvels" given by God to answer Pharaoh's taunt that he does not know Yahweh: "The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD".
The King of Kings is a 1927 American silent epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. It depicts the last weeks of Jesus before his crucifixion and stars H. B. Warner in the lead role.
The Exodus is the founding myth of the Israelites whose narrative is spread over four books of the Torah, namely Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The majority of modern scholars date the composition of the Torah to the Middle Persian Period. Some of the traditions contributing to this narrative are older, since allusions to the story are made by 8th-century BCE prophets such as Amos and Hosea.
The Ten Commandments are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity.
Julia Faye Maloney, known professionally as Julia Faye, was an American actress of silent and sound films. She was known for her appearances in more than 30 Cecil B. DeMille productions. Her various roles ranged from maids and ingénues to vamps and queens.
Dathan was an Israelite mentioned in the Old Testament as a participant of the Exodus.
The Pharaoh's daughter in the story of the finding of Moses in the biblical Book of Exodus is an important, albeit minor, figure in Abrahamic religions. Though some variations of her story exist, the general consensus among Jews, Christians, and Muslims is that she is the adoptive mother of the prophet Moses. Muslims identify her with Asiya, the Great Royal Wife of the pharaoh. In either version, she saved Moses from certain death from both the Nile river and from the Pharaoh. As she ensured the well-being of Moses throughout his early life, she played an essential role in lifting the Hebrew slaves out of bondage in Egypt, their journey to the Promised Land, and the establishment of the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments is a 2006 miniseries that dramatizes the biblical story of Moses. It ran on the ABC TV network.
Charles d'Authier de Rochefort was a French film actor, principally of the silent era. He appeared in 34 films between 1911 and 1932. He also directed seven films between 1930 and 1931.
Sands of Oblivion is a 2007 Sci-Fi Channel original movie starring Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Victor Webster, George Kennedy, Richard Kind and Dan Castellaneta. It was directed by David Flores and premiered July 28, 2007 on the Sci Fi Channel.
Katherine Orrison is an American set decorator, art director, producer, costumer, author and film historian specializing in the films of Cecil B. DeMille, the life and career of actor Henry Wilcoxon, and the epic film The Ten Commandments.
The Shepherd King is a 1923 American silent biblical epic film directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Violet Mersereau, Nerio Bernardi, and Guido Trento. It is a film adaptation of a 1904 Broadway play by Wright Lorimer and Arnold Reeves. The film depicts the biblical story of David (Bernardi), a shepherd prophesied to replace Saul (Trento) as king. David is invited into Saul's court, but eventually betrayed. He assembles an army that defeats the Philistines, becomes king after Saul's death in battle, and marries Saul's daughter Michal (Mersereau).
The Finding of Moses is a 1904 painting by the Anglo-Dutch artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema. It was one of his last major works before his death in 1912, but quickly fell out of favour; according to rumour, it was sold in the 1950s for its frame. After appreciation of Victorian painting was renewed towards the end of the 20th century, it was described in an auction catalogue in 1995 as "the undisputed masterpiece of [Alma-Tadema's] last decade, as well as a late flowering of the nineteenth-century's love-affair with Egypt". It was sold to a private collector at auction in 2010 for nearly US$36 million.