Review: The Ten Commandments Blu-ray

The Ten Commandments Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Cecil B. DeMille | CAST: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson
RELEASE DATE: 3/29/2011 | PRICE: DVD $19.99, Blu-ray $39.99, Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo $89.99
BONUSES: commentary, newsreel, trailers
SPECS: G | 231 min. | Biblical epic | widescreen| 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish, Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

We’re in the Easter season, and a number of studios are rolling out new editions of biblical movies, including the Blu-ray release of The Miracle Maker earlier this month. Next up from Paramount is the high-definition debut of Cecil B. DeMille’s classic The Ten Commandments, and the studio has definitely done itself proud with the transfer.

The Ten CommandmentsThe 1956 Academy Award-winning (special effects) movie looks superb in this new Blu-ray. The film features elaborate sets and costumes of ancient Egyptian, and the blues and reds and golds they feature are bright and saturated on this disc. DeMille reportedly was meticulous in the details for the movie, even making blue-eyed actresses wear brown-eye contacts, and it’s just as well, because every detail is easily seen here.

The 231-minute film is presented on two discs, and with only limited special features; all the extra Blu-ray space is going to the quality of the movie.

In the way of bonuses, the package includes only trailers, the newsreel for the movie’s New York premiere and a commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic The Ten Commandments.

For lovers of this film, or even the filmmaking of the 1950s, Orrison’s loving and enthusiastic commentary will prove very entertaining. She certainly knows her stuff, offering up such great tidbits of information as the fact that Audrey Hepburn was originally cast for Anne Baxter’s role but her figure didn’t look good in the character’s sheer dresses, and a lot of the costumes and props were originally used in the 1954 film The Egyptian, which flopped in theaters, so assets were sold to DeMille as way to recoup money.

Orrison’s commentary is so packed, however, that it’s rather exhausting. She rarely stops talking for longer than a breath, so you might want to listen in more than one sitting.

More special features are included in the Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo version, which has a new hour-long documentary on the making of the film, a photo gallery from the Cecil B. DeMille BYU Archives and hand-tinted footage of the Exodus and Parting of the Red Sea sequences from the 1923 silent film. But that set is a lot more pricey at $89.99, than the regular Blu-ray at $39.99.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.