Blu-Ray Review: Beloved ‘The Ten Commandments’ Makes Excellent Easter Gift
CHICAGO – When one hears the phrase “epic” in terms of classic movies, one of the first that should come to mind is the crowning achievement of Cecil B. DeMille’s obsession with storytelling with a massive scope, “The Ten Commandments,” now available on Blu-ray for the first time to coincide with the upcoming Easter holiday, when it usually plays on television to big Nielsen numbers. Put it in your best friend’s Easter basket.
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0
In all seriousness, this is a pretty notable release with one of the better classic movie Blu-ray transfers of the year to date. From the very beginning, as the word “Overture” splashes across a red background, “The Ten Commandments” has that undeniable HD sheen. “The Ten Commandments” is such a serious piece of work that it takes not just an overture but an introduction to the story of Moses. Even that introduction looks new in 1080p. Wait until you get to the revolutionary special effects.
To say the picture quality on the Blu-ray of “The Ten Commandments” is striking would be an understatement. The colors are crisp and vibrant in a way that would make the showman DeMille grin from ear to ear. Sometimes classic films can look over-polished, taking the realism out of the piece and making the people look more like they’ve been overly airbrushed, but I don’t think that’s possible with a film like “The Ten Commandments.” Epics this broad are supposed to look over-polished. Everything about them plays to the extreme, making them perfect fits for Blu-ray. (I can’t wait for “Ben-Hur,” hitting HD later this year).
The Ten Commandments was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 29th, 2011
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video
In case you’re somehow unfamiliar, “The Ten Commandments” was DeMille’s final film and arguably his most lasting accomplishment. It stars Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses II, Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, Yvonne De Carlo as Sephora, and Anne Baxter as Nefertiri. Is it a “good” movie? It’s hard to say because it’s become such a part of the fabric of movie history. It was a phenomenon at the time, nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and finding new loyal fans every year since its release. The film made $65 million in theaters in 1956, which adjusted for inflation equals almost $1 billion today. When one adds in VHS, DVD sales, and money made from regular television airings, “The Ten Commandments” is truly one of the most successful films of all time. “Good” isn’t really relevant when you’re this beloved.
Reducing compression by spreading the 231-minute feature over two discs results in a spectacular picture for “The Ten Commandments,” which is really the only reason to upgrade as special features on the non-ultimate edition are pretty scarce. You’ll find a commentary, newsreel, and archival trailers, but that’s it. The big gift set includes more along with the 1923 version of the film, but we were only sent the stand-alone version for review. With this version, the bonus material is a little scant, but fans of the film should still pick it up for the restoration of the picture alone.
o Commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments
o Newsreel: The Ten Commandments — Premiere in New York
o Theatrical Trailers