Paramount Pictures came down from the mountain with a beautifully restored version of Cecil B DeMille’s epic 1956 version of The Ten Commandments that featured Charlton Hestson in the iconic, almost career-defining role of Moses, with Yuk Brynner going toe to toe with him as the pharaoh, Ramses.
The film plays like a who’s who of the golden age of Hollywood, and it is truly the definition of epic, clocking in at three hours and forty minutes. There are those of us who grew up with this film as a kid (I would come across the film on television now and again, and was captivated by the colours and the special effects (I would also think of that classic line from Close Encounters of the Third Kind when the kids say that dad said they could stay up and watch it, and he says they can watch the first five).
This is NOT The Ten Commandments I saw on my television screen growing up, hell, it’s not even the accompanying blu-ray that comes with the new 4k version of the film. It’s more vibrant than ever before, a beautiful pageantry of Technicolor images.
Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film only took home one, for Special Effects and those still wow today. Even knowing how they were achieved doesn’t lessen their impact. And that applies to every facet of the film, eschewing gritty realism for vibrant, colourful, theatrical images, the film virtually pops off the screen, and all the more so now.
The entire film is contained on one disc, unlike the accompanying blu-ray which breaks into two, or the DVD before that, or the VHS before that, it’s all here in one colossal event. And it stuns. This is the kind of movie that you have a 4K television for. It has never looked better than this.
The 4K not only has a beautiful picture, but a solid soundtrack as well, that puts your home theatre systemto good use. It also delivers an insightful commentary by Katherine Orrison who wrote the definitive making of book about the film, Written in Stone. The blu-ray contains the same commentary as well as newsreel footage from the film’s premiere, the film’s trailers, and a ten minute behind the scenes trailer.
I won’t lie, I was there were more in the way of bonus features, I do live a good ‘making of’ documentary, but this one is worth it for the image alone. Watching this version of the film, so pristine, so vibrant, it was like I had never seen the film before. It was a brand new experience, and a masterclass in film making in old school Hollywood.
Truly epic and an amazing achievement in movie-making, The Ten Commandments remains a must see movie, whether you believe in the story or not, it makes for fantastic cinema, and now is the time to add to your collection. The beautiful 4K version is available now from Paramount Canada, so pick it up settle back in your chair, and enjoy a film that continues to stand the tests of time.