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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Cecil B. DeMille
USA 1956

 

Based on the Holy Scriptures, with additional dialogue by several other hands, The Ten Commandments was the last film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The story relates the life of Moses, from the time he was discovered in the bullrushes as an infant by the pharaoh's daughter, to his long, hard struggle to free the Hebrews from their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Moses (Charlton Heston) starts out "in solid" as Pharaoh's adopted son (and a whiz at designing pyramids, dispensing such construction-site advice as "Blood makes poor mortar"), but when he discovers his true Hebrew heritage, he attempts to make life easier for his people. Banished by his jealous half-brother Rameses (Yul Brynner), Moses returns fully bearded to Pharoah's court, warning that he's had a message from God and that the Egyptians had better free the Hebrews post-haste if they know what's good for them. Only after the Deadly Plagues have decimated Egypt does Rameses give in. As the Hebrews reach the Red Sea, they discover that Rameses has gone back on his word and plans to have them all killed. But Moses rescues his people with a little Divine legerdemain by parting the Seas. Later, Moses is again confronted by God on Mt. Sinai, who delivers unto him the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, the Hebrews, led by the duplicitous Dathan (Edward G. Robinson), are forgetting their religion and behaving like libertines. "Where's your Moses now?" brays Dathan in the manner of a Lower East Side gangster. He soon finds out. A remake of his 1923 silent film, DeMille's The Ten Commandments may not be the most subtle and sophisticated entertainment ever concocted, but it tells its story with a clarity and vitality that few Biblical scholars have ever been able to duplicate. It is very likely the most eventful 219 minutes ever recorded to film—and who's to say that Nefertiri (Anne Baxter) didn't make speeches like, "Oh, Moses, Moses, you splendid, stubborn, adorable fool"?

***


Shot in widescreen Technicolor, The Ten Commandments remains the standard by which Biblical epics -- and many epics in general -- are measured. DeMille is heavy handed, but that's DeMille. Heston scowls and Brynner emotes; they are archetypal versions of themselves. Many of DeMille's sets and stunts are obvious fakes (that animated pillar of fire wouldn't scare a house cat), but most are impressive even today. When Moses turns his staff into a snake and back again, the effect is seamless. His turning of the Nile into blood is an impressive camera trick, but his parting of the Red Sea is one of Hollywood's most famous stunts. It's worth sitting through the 220 minutes of movie for this alone.

 Excerpt from Christopher Null's review at filmcritic.com located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 5, 1956

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Comparison:

Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Paramount (55th Anniversary) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow and Gary Tooze for the Screen Caps!

1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 Box Covers

 

Now available in a bare-bones Blu-ray edition here:

Distribution

Paramount Home Entertainment

Region 2 - PAL

Paramount Home Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
Paramount Home Entertainment
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 3:41:53 (4% PAL speedup) 2:15:36 + 1:35:42 = 3:51:18 2:15:48.807 + 1:35:49.618
Video

1.74:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.60 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc 1 Size: 42,655,843,037 bytes

Feature: 42,161,055,744 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.59 Mbps

 

Disc 2 Size: 33,431,727,087 bytes

Feature: 29,561,966,592 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.21 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - PAL Disc 1

 

Bitrate:

Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - PAL - Disc 2

 

Bitrate:

Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - NTSC Disc 1

Bitrate:

Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - NTSC Disc 2

Bitrate:

Paramount Blu-ray Disc 1

Bitrate:

Paramount Blu-ray Disc 2

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital English, 2.0 Dolby Digital Italian / German / Spanish / French Mono (dub)

5.1 Dolby Digital English, 2.0 Dolby Digital, DUB: French 2.0 Dolby

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3274 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3274 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and More English, French, none. English, English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.74:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Katherine Orrison
• Disc 2
• 6-Part documentary (37:36)
• - Moses (7:27 / 4:3)
• - The Chosen People (7:33 / 4:3)
• - Land of the Pharaohs (6:10 / 4:3)
• - The Paramount Lot (6:51 / 4:3)
• - The Score (2:49 / 4:3)
• - Mr. DeMille (6:43 / 4:3)
• Newsreel New York premiere
• 1959 featurette: The Making of 'The Ten Commandments' (9:37 / 16x9)
• The 1966 re-release TV Trailer (0:51 / 16x9)
• The 1989 Theatrical re-release Trailer (1:32 / 16x9)
• 12 page booklet

DVD Release Date:
Double Keep Case

Chapters 48

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.74:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Katherine Orrison
• Disc 2
• 6-Part documentary (37:36)
• - Moses (7:27 / 4:3)
• - The Chosen People (7:33 / 4:3)
• - Land of the Pharaohs (6:10 / 4:3)
• - The Paramount Lot (6:51 / 4:3)
• - The Score (2:49 / 4:3)
• - Mr. DeMille (6:43 / 4:3)
• Newsreel New York premiere
• 1959 featurette: The Making of 'The Ten Commandments' (9:37 / 16x9)
• The 1966 re-release TV Trailer (0:51 / 16x9)
• The 1989 Theatrical re-release Trailer (1:32 / 16x9)

 

DVD Release Date:
Double Keep Case

Chapters 48

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:- 1.78:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc 1 Size: 42,655,843,037 bytes

Feature: 42,161,055,744 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.59 Mbps

 

Disc 2 Size: 33,431,727,087 bytes

Feature: 29,561,966,592 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.21 Mbps

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Katherine Orrison
• Disc 2
• Audio commentary by Katherine Orrison
• Newsreel - The Ten Commandments - Premiere in New York (2:24 - in 1080P )

• Trailers (3 - 56', 66', 89')
 

Blu-ray Release Date:
Standard Blu-ray Case w/cardboard slipcase

Chapters 29 + 19

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - March 2011: Overall this is a highly impressive upgrade. It is described as 'meticulously restored' and I have no reason to question this statement in regards to this 55th Anniversary Edition 1080P transfer. Every visual facet supports the vastly improved bitrate (approaching 6X) with tighter colors, excellent contrast and even some depth. This is light years beyond the DVD appearance. Incredibly impressive.

NOTE: The, almost 4 hour film, is again spread over 2 discs (both dual-layered Blu-rays) with the Overture, Intermission and Exit music.

Audio is another improvement - almost as powerful as the video - with a DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3274 kbps. Solid bass and effect separations are notable if not always crisply defined. This is a strong update from the DVDs and one that blends in so well with the glory of the presentation.

There is also a Limited Edition Gift Set Blu-ray / DVD HERE that is described as having an all-new, never-before-seen, hour-long documentary on the making of The Ten Commandments,  entitled “Making Miracles.” This standard edition has the previous commentary from Katherine Orrison, author of “Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments” on both the 1956 Feature Film and the 1923 Silent Film - as well as the Newsreel: The Ten Commandments - Premiere in New York in HD and 3 Theatrical Trailers - also in HD.

It is almost impossible not to endorse this - the film itself is always kind of overwhelming but in this improved resolution - it is indeed a wide-eyed home theater experience that is definitely worth the price of admission. We can certainly encourage purchase - WOW!      

***

ON THE DVDs:

The two DVD editions are virtually identical excepting that the PAL edition obviously has the 4% speed-up and, as usual, more audio DUB and subtitle options (as well as a different color font to the NTSC counterpart). Image quality has no extensive differences and extras are duplicated.

Gary Tooze 

***

The Image
There are two different versions of this film. One is the 35mm VistaVision print with the OAR of 1.85:1, the other is the 70mm re-release print with the OAR of 2.20:1.

The DVD doesn't say what its AR is, only that its "Widescreen prepared for 16x9 Television", and as such one would expect 1.78:1, but the frame is actually only 1.74:1 in AR, with black bars left and right. How this format related to the OAR I cannot say, as I have no source for comparison. While the Laserdisc was 1.66:1 (actually 1.69:1), it was not because it contained more frame details, but because it was cropped left and right, actually having less image than the DVD.

Apart from heavy macro blocking, the transfer displays surprisingly little compression artifacts, and while details aren't as strong as one could wish, the image is at times a bit soft, the transfer simply looks incredible. The colors are saturated, strong and vibrant, which they really have to be to give full justice to this exceptional beautiful Technicolor film.

The Sound
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track sounds very much like the 2.0 Dolby Digital track, except that some effects and the score are spread over the entire soundstage. It is very "mono-ish" center and for today's standards of sound restoration, it is a bit flat.

The Extras
Almost the entire four hours are covered by an audio commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of the book "Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille's Epic - The Ten Commandments". It is one extremely insightful and entertaining commentary. Orrison never goes tired and never runs out of something to say. One of the best commentaries I've heard so far.

Six small featurettes form a documentary running about 40 minutes. Its very light, very headlines and big words. As a documentary for one of the greatest epics ever made, it is quiet frankly dull and thin. Based on the commentary and Orrison's book, it really should be no problem to make a 2 hour documentary about the production. But sadly no such thing.

The extras are concluded by two trailers, the 1966 TV release trailer and the 1989 theatrical re-release trailer, and a 1959 TV featurette on making of the film. Curiously the original trailer is missing.

 - Henrik Sylow

 

 






DVD Menus
(
Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 

 

Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE BELOW TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Paramount Home Entertainment (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 Box Covers

 

Now available in a bare-bones Blu-ray edition here:

Distribution

Paramount Home Entertainment

Region 2 - PAL

Paramount Home Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
Paramount Home Entertainment
Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Special Edition



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