Things You May Not Know About "The Ten Commandments"

If it’s Easter time, you must be getting ready for ABC’s annual airing of “The Ten Commandments.” I personally have missed the entirety of Cecil B. DeMille’s overwrought Old Testament epic (a very strange choice for an Easter weekend tradition, don’t you think?) maybe five or six times since the early 1970s. “The Ten Commandments” is hardly the greatest old movie ever made, but so far it seems to be the one movie made during the 20th century that is resistant to all attempts to get it taken off the air. Even an inferior remake has not replaced it and that’s not a gimme.

While “The Ten Commandments” has been one of the most beloved of classic movie traditions and by now you may think you are familiar with everything to do with the movie that tells the life of Moses. But here are some bits of trivia about “The Ten Commandments” that you may not know.

Not an Inferior Remake

The 1956 version is actually a remake of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 version of “The Ten Commandments.” Back during the Golden Age of Hollywood, it was far less unusual for the same director to remake a movie of his own than it is today. The 1923 version of “The Ten Commandments” was a silent film, obviously, and so there was no word of God actually heard by viewers. While Cecil B. DeMille narrates “The Ten Commandments” the voice of God in the 1956 is up for grabs. The voice of the Burning Bush is stylized to the point past easy recognition and rumors indicate that it may actually be Charlton Heston himself. Of course, there is always the possibility that it is God himself. DeMille was a pretty powerful director.

The Biggest Grossing Movie of the 1950s

No other movie released during the 1950s made as much money during that decade as “The Ten Commandments.” The decade was the heyday of Biblical epics that took full advantage of the bigger screen inside cinemas as a way to compete with the introduction of television as the primary competitor to films for entertainment spending. “The Ten Commandments” became the second highest grossing movie of all time behind only “Gone with the Wind” and would remain for another decade.

One Froggy Evening

One of the highlights of “The Ten Commandments” are the way that the plagues of Egypt are presented. The final plague that kills all first born sons not protected is particularly frightening. A release on DVD of “The Ten Commandments” reveals that a sequence showing the plague of frogs was actually filmed and managed to stay intact within the movie until almost the last minute. The frog plague was ultimately excised from the film because it was not as effectively frightening as the other plagues. Not to mention that “The Ten Commandments” is a pretty dang long movie even without that sequence.