I don’t watch 3 hour+ films often, but when I do I usually watch quality ones. The Ten Commandments is a legendary film and the poster is quite iconic at this point. The Bible is huge and as a result, most of it has not yet been adapted to the big screen. This film did a great job of essentially adapting the full story of Moses and adding in as many details as it can. Throwing in extra backstory is always a tricky process since you want to be careful not to deviate from what happened, but the film does a good job of it. It certainly is very long, but it’s an informative movie and a must watch for all viewers.
In case you aren’t familiar with this part of the Bible, here’s the situation. The Pharaoh decreed that all male Hebrew babies were to be slaughtered in an effort to prevent the deliverer from arising and freeing them from slavery. Fortunately for Moses, his mother sent him away in a basket to the Egyptians where he was raised up as a prince. Nobody knew about his true origin and he slowly grew to power. However, before he could become King, Moses found out the truth and decided he’d rather live as a slave with his people then rule under a false pretense. As a result, he lost everything and nearly died, but God was not finished with him. Moses was going to be the deliverer of the Hebrews after all.
Since the film is so long, it’s able to give a lot of time to each act. The first act is naturally about Moses growing up and then learning the truth. On one hand, you may think Moses could have helped the Hebrews right away if he had become King and then done away with slavery. On the other hand, living with the deception may not feel just. It’s one of those tough calls where it’s hard to know what you’d do. You have to have a lot of will power to trade fame, power, and a comfortable lifestyle over being a slave to do the right thing. Moses also lose his future wife and made an enemy out of everyone in power. It was certainly not an easy choice to make.
The second act covers when Moses returns to Egypt and God delivers many plagues as the Pharaoh continues to deny his people freedom. Once the final plague occurs and his son is killed, the Moses is finally able to lead his people out. Even then the Pharaoh decided to try one last attempt to slay them, which leads to the famous moment of the river parting and all of the soldiers being annihilated. The scene was handled very well and the film spared no expense on the effects. It would certainly be pretty amazing to see such a sight in person.
Finally, the last segment is about Moses obtaining the Ten Commandments from God. While he is on the mountain the Hebrews begin to worship fallen idols and regress almost entirely to how the Egyptians acted. Moses breaks the Commandments and has to get them a second time as a result. The film ends on a rather sad note though as Moses is not allowed to go on to the Promised Land because of how he hit the rock for water when he wasn’t supposed too. The scene is not in the movie though so if you only know this story through the film you may not understand why he wasn’t allowed inside. The film doesn’t really explain it and part of why the scene is so tragic is because it was such a small mistake. I think scholars have theorized that he struck the rock to show off his own power and had developed hubris over the years or something. There are quite a few theories out there, but sometimes there is no deep reason. Perhaps he just had a bad day and his patience was thin which led to him striking the rock. Whatever the reason, while the ending was tragic, Moses accomplished great things. Through God, Moses saved thousands of lives and brought everyone out of slavery.
The Ten Commandments is certainly an uplifting movie. It’s great to see the story of Moses in movie format and also great to see how well known and legendary it became. It goes to show that if the quality of the story is good then you can certainly have a film over 3 hours. The intermission was appreciated as well since it gave me time to grab a snack and then continue on. The visuals and soundtrack were on point throughout as well.
Overall, The Ten Commandments is a movie that you do not want to miss out on. It’s not everyday that we get a Christian film which gets this mainstream and is handled well. If I had anything I’d change with the film, I’d reduce a large part of the first section where we get a subplot of the carpenter and the servant who can’t be together because of a rich slave owner. That plot was extremely dark and I don’t see how it really contributed. Beyond that, the rest of the adaption was completely on point. While the film can be dark and somewhat brutal at times, it’s still something that you really should see. I avoid sad/tragic tales myself, but since this is real life and stuff that you can’t avoid, it’s worth checking out. The Bible can be rather violent as well, but it’s still something that you’ve got to read at some point. You can appreciate the sacrifices that our predecessors made even more when you understand their tribulations. As the saying goes, Light is always brightest after the darkness. Don’t think that the film is constantly dark either though, there’s a good balance throughout.