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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

88






Studio and Year: Paramount - 1956
MPAA Rating: G
Feature running time: 231 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.77:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/Portuguese 2.0 Surround, French/Spanish 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French/Spanish/Portuguese
Starring: Charlton Heston, Anne Baxter, John Derek, Edward G. Robinson, Yul Brynner, Yvonne De Carlo, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Debra Paget, Nina Foch, Martha Scott, Vincent Price, John Carradine,
Directed by: Cecile B. Demille
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Written by: Aeneas MacKenzie
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 29, 2011







"So it shall be written, so it shall be done"



Film Synopsis:


Cecile B. DeMille tops the pageantry and excitement of his original silent film with his sweeping 1956 retelling of The Ten Commandments. Filmed in Egypt and the Sinai, and featuring one of the biggest sets ever constructed for a motion picture, this star-studded, Technicolor extravaganza tells the story of the life of Moses (Charlton Heston), who turned his back on a privileged life to lead his people to freedom. This classic screen epic was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture of 1956.



My Take:


Based on the Holy Scriptures, with additional dialogue by several other hands, The Ten Commandments was the last film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The story relates the life of Moses, from the time he was discovered in the bullrushes as an infant by the pharoah's daughter, to his long, hard struggle to free the Hebrews from their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Moses (Charlton Heston) starts out as Pharoah's adopted son but when he discovers his true Hebrew heritage, he attempts to make life easier for his people. Banished by his jealous half-brother Rameses (Yul Brynner), Moses returns to Pharoah's court, warning that he's had a message from God that the Egyptians must free the Hebrews. Only after the deadly plagues have decimated Egypt does Rameses give in. As the Hebrews reach the Red Sea, they discover that Rameses has gone back on his word and plans to have them all killed. Moses rescues his people by parting the Seas allowing them to pass safely. Later, Moses is again confronted by God on Mt. Sinai, who delivers unto him the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, the Hebrews, led by the duplicitous Dathan (Edward G. Robinson), have gone against God and created a false god in a golden calf. Moses returns and those responsible pay the ultimate price while the remaining people are forced to wander the desert for 40 years before seeing the promised land. A remake of his 1923 silent film, DeMille's The Ten Commandments tells its story with a clarity and vitality that few Biblical scholars have ever been able to duplicate.

Let me start off by saying that I love this film. Cecile B. Demille's passion for the subject matter is readily apparent and shows in every aspect of the film's production. I have fond memories of watching it every year on television when I was growing up. Like many classic films prior to the advent of home video the only way to see it back then was when it aired which was usually around Easter. I love it for its epic scope, grandeur, totality of production and marvelous cast. The story is naturally timeless and my affection for it hasn't diminished as I have gotten older. I am moved by it in much the same way now as I was when I was younger. As a biblical story I find it to be majestic and inspirational in its depiction of faith, hope, and divinity. I also find it to be a compelling drama with incredible depth. The sibling rivalry between Ramses and Moses, Seti's heartbreak, Dathan's treachery and quest for power, Nefreteri's hell hath no fury.., Moses meets Sephora, Moses, Yoshebel and the moving stone, I could go on. As an ensemble the cast is simply magnificent but if I had to play favorites it would Charleton Heston, Yul Brynner and Anne Baxter. If pressed I would be split between Baxter and Brynner. He was simply amazing. His your shadow speech to Moses is one of the most poignant scenes in the film. As for Anne Baxter, I love her in every scene she is in. Cecile B. Demille's devotion to bringing these events and people to life is aweinspiring. There has been debate over the film's factual basis but I have never bothered to look into it. I see it as a creative work that as far as I know hasn't make any bold claims of authenticity. The film won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (John P. Fulton, A.S.C.), and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler, Albert Nozaki, Samuel M. Comer, Ray Moyer), Best Cinematography, Color, Best Costume Design, Color (Edith Head, Ralph Jester, John Jensen, Dorothy Jeakins and Arnold Friberg), Best Film Editing, Best Picture and Best Sound, Recording. It has been a long time since I have watched it and seeing it again during this review proved every bit as satisfying and probably more so thanks to its newly re-mastered high definition video and audio (see below). I am thrilled to own it on Blu-ray and am glad to be able share it with my children.



Parental Guide:


This film is rated for General Audiences however it contains thematic elements that may be inappropriate for young viewers.





AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


Audio: 86


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:





Video: 90


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

The Ten Commandments comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 36 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 Mbps.

In 2010 The Ten Commandments underwent a 6k Digital Restoration by Motion Picture Imaging which was supervised by Ron Smith and the results are impressive. Originally shot in Vista Vision (a 35mm process invented by an engineer at Paramount) and spread out over two BD-50 Blu-ray Discs this film's 1.78:1 framed high definition video presentation on Blu-ray is a sight to behold on my 100 inch screen. Colors are tonally balanced with lustrous primaries, clean rendering and delineated secondary hues that all look terrific. Fleshtones are appreciably lifelike with discernible texture and natural depiction. The level of visible detail in facial features, hair and clothing during close-ups is noteworthy. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth but most reveal subtle degrees of refinement and fidelity is never in question. Resolution is excellent as interior shots of the cavernous halls, tents, lodgings and sets featured in the story offer clarity, detail and dimension that belie the film's 54 year old age. Of course this also made the faux scenery and dated special effects shots more obvious but I must say that the parting of the Red Sea sequence is still breathtaking. Blacks are noise free, stable and fairly deep. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enliven bright scenes and colors while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during darker segments. Grain is present although minimally inconsistent which appears attributable to the restoration process. The effects are diminutive and not compromising to fidelity in my opinion. Paramount is to be commended on this excellent and faithful high definition presentation that is sure to please even discerning fans.

I sometimes receive queries from readers with regard to audio ratings where some feel that a particular title may or may not fit into my rating scale as it coincides with either my description of its elements or perhaps the nature of the soundtrack compared to other films that have received a similar score. I think as enthusiasts we tend to attribute high ratings with bombast, lots of surround activity/effects, and of course powerful dynamics/bass. In many cases that is true however there are cases of exemplary audio expression that can be found in the subtleties and nuance within a soundtrack. The Ten Commandments on Blu-ray is just such an example. Read on.

The films originally recorded soundtrack has been re-mastered by Chris Johnston at Pacific Ocean Imaging into a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix. Similar to the film restoration it is readily apparent that plenty of care went into the redesigned audio. The mix retains a front oriented perspective and features sparkling clarity and imaging. Dialogue is refined and tonally distinctive as it seamlessly blends with the front three channels. The vocal performances are sibilant free with smooth transitions and opulent texture. Excellent channel separation enhances the discerning of sound effects and the orchestrated elements present in the music as the sound field in the front of the room bristles with sonic detail. The surrounds are utilized for atmospheric extension that creates an enveloping presence that appreciably enhances the film's superlative music. Good dynamic range and low frequency effects combine to provide solidity and weight to the audio without sounded unnatural. These primarily come in the form of bass content associated with the music score and to a lesser degree in support of recorded elements that contain lower bass response. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this audio presentation. It highlights the strengths of the source material without ostentatious display and sounds great.



Bonus Features:


  • Disc 1:

  • Commentary by Katherine Orrison author of Written in stone: Making Cecile B. Demille's The Ten Commandments


  • Disc 2:

  • Commentary by Katherine Orrison author of Written in stone: Making Cecile B. Demille's The Ten Commandments

  • Newsreel: The Ten Commandments - Premiere in New York

  • Trailers:

    1. 1956 Making of - 10 minutes
    2. 1966
    3. 1989





Final Thoughts:


The Ten Commandments is one of the most popular and recognizable films of all time. It is a classic piece of American Cinema that is beloved by people the world over. This Blu-ray Edition from Paramount Home Entertainment features re-mastered high definition video that presents this film in an entirely new light. The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound remains faithful while adding vitality and dimension without ostentatious display. The limited bonus supplements are highlighted by an outstanding audio commentary by Katherine Orrison who is quite an authority on the film. If you're a fan of The Ten Commandments I highly recommend this excellent Blu-ray offering from Paramount.














Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





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This is an example of a movie that will never lose it's luster. As many times as i've seen it it just never gets old. Definitely a collect.


Cheers
 

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Thanks Ralph for your expertise. I'll definitely upgrade my DVD version with this one. Now, I'm hoping Ben-Hur will receive same treatment as well.
 

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The historical accuracy of this film has always been an issue within my family but the acting and video quality is not disputed. Looking forward to the audio. Thanks
 

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This will be in my collection..no question, I watched this movie several times as a kid growing up...and catching it on cable during the holidays as of late. Of all the hundreds of videos I have purchased in last few years.. I'm more excited about this big time... my top 5 in my collection


I'm glad it got a great treatment as it deserves...and thanks King P for the review... Im sure your kids enjoyed it as well my family will too.
 

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I can't remember when I last saw this movie, but this review made me curious enough to go check it out again. Thanks!


I actually do think it's refreshing to see a movie with a positive take on spirituality, or especially, Christianity.
 

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Recently watched this on my DVD copy after not seeing it for many years. Truly a great movie in every respect and now a must upgrade for me on Blu-ray.


The only thing left would be a true remake with modern special effects, although I'm not sure Hollywood's modern value system would ever produce such a thing.
 

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Definitely going to give this one a rent. I sure hope NF or BB has it to rent. Would be nice to see this film the way its supposed to be seen.
 

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I don't think the inconsistencies between the Bible and this movie detract from this title at all. With the understanding that the movie is trying to tell the story, but is not to be regarded as canon, it's a good flick.


As stated in the introductory speech before the movie, they attempt to fill the gaps in Moses' life with the writings of Philo, Josephus, and others. Indeed, if one reads the book of Exodus, much of the first half of the movie is not there. I haven't read the other historians, so I can't speak as to how well the movie mirrors their writings.


The movie also compresses time to some extent. Moses was actually 80 years old by the time he returned to Pharaoh. But the movie makes it seem as though just a few years have passed. Also, Dathan dies much later than Mt Sinai, but in much the same way as depicted in the movie.


The examples above are illustrative of the types of differences between the movie and the Bible. Dramatic license is taken, but all the important bits are there.


This is a definite must buy for me. No question about it.
 

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Based on the bitrates and the dual-disc stats, it seems the producers of this blu-ray gave the transfer plenty of breathing room. I'm looking forward to finally seeing this movie in a good-looking presentation!


I remember well seeing "Ben-Hur" in the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood in about 1990--that was an overwhelming experience. These HUGE epics put their production dollars up on the screen, to be certain.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davinleeds /forum/post/20161291


The historical accuracy of this film has always been an issue within my family but the acting and video quality is not disputed. Looking forward to the audio. Thanks

Agreed, the accuracy is not the best, but the movie is still quite amazing anyway.
 

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At the moment---the price is a killer for me----just watched the dvd again and eventually will get it on bluray when the price drops somewhat.


I love epics---whether they are religious or otherwise---I am very glad when the studios treat these right by not decreasing the bitrate on long movies and putting them on 2 discs. After all---on dvd many epics were put on 2 discs and in order to achieve the dvd--bluray best transfer DIFFERENCE would be to do this as standard practice.


If they don't do this for LOTR extended---I'll be very dissapointed.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikepier /forum/post/20163877


Is this version better than the ABC version they showed in HD for the first time last year?

ABC tv hasn't been able to top the one and only DeMille. There is no comparison.
 

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Ralph,

I'm so glad you gave this blu ray such a good review and high rating. I've had this on pre-order since it was first announced, and I'm really looking forward to watching it in high definition.


This is a movie I've watched religiously (pun intended) during Holy Week each year for over ten years. I'm sure I've seen this movie close to twenty times, and it remains one of my favorites of all time.


In the last two years, after having been spoiled by high definition, I've watched the Ten Commandments on my old, faithful DVD, but have really been hoping for a much deserved re-mastering. Finally, my wishes will come true, and your review makes me secure in the knowledge that the blu ray will live up to my expectations, and maybe even surpass them.


I agree with the post that mentioned Ben-Hur as another candidate for a much-needed upgrade. Cleopatra would be another one, and as long as we're on the subject of religious epics, The Greatest Story Ever Told is a Holy Week favorite too, and could use a dip in the blu ray pool.


Thanks again for the review, Ralph!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpellChecker /forum/post/20166240


Ralph,

I'm so glad you gave this blu ray such a good review and high rating. I've had this on pre-order since it was first announced, and I'm really looking forward to watching it in high definition.


This is a movie I've watched religiously (pun intended) during Holy Week each year for over ten years. I'm sure I've seen this movie close to twenty times, and it remains one of my favorites of all time.


In the last two years, after having been spoiled by high definition, I've watched the Ten Commandments on my old, faithful DVD, but have really beem hoping for a much deserved re-mastering. Finally, my wishes will come true, and your review makes me secure in the knowledge that the blu ray will live up to my expectations, and maybe even surpass them.


I agree with the post that mentioned Ben-Hur as another candidate for a much-needed upgrade. Cleopatra would be another one, and as long as we're on the subject of religious epics, The Greatest Story Ever Told is a Holy Week favorite too, and could use a dip in the blu ray pool.


Thanks again for the review, Ralph!

Greetings,


You're very welcome SC. Be sure to post back once you have seen it..




Regards,
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpellChecker /forum/post/20166240


The Greatest Story Ever Told is a Holy Week favorite too, and could use a dip in the blu ray pool.

Being released the same day as Ten Commandments, March 29.
 

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I'm old enough to have seen this in a theater when it was first released.



Thanks for the review Ralph. You've never let us down with a review, so I know I'll be VERY pleased with this one.
 

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Grew up watching this one on TV as well and am glad to read it's been given a proper treatment on this format. Look forward to watching it... again and again.
 
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