This was the last film that Cecil DeMille directed. He was set to direct his own remake of The Buccaneer, but his final illness forced him to relinquish the directing chores for that one to his then-son-in-law, Anthony Quinn. He had also planned to film the life of Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Scout movement, with David Niven; this project was never realized.
The Ten Commandments is partially a remake of DeMille's 1923 silent film. Some of the cast and crew of the 1956 version worked on the original. It has since been remade again as a television miniseries broadcast in April 2006.
Adjusted for inflation, it is the fifth-highest grossing movie of all time domestically, with collections of $838,400,000. In non-adjusted dollars, it held the record as the highest-grossing film with a religious theme until the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.
In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. The Ten Commandments was acknowledged as the tenth best film in the epic genre.
Shortly after Moses' birth, Rameses I had ordered the slaying of all firstborn male Hebrews to prevent the prophecy of the Deliverer from coming true. Moses' mother (called "Yoshebel" in the film) had set him adrift on the Nile to escape, with his sister Miriam watching from a hidden spot. Bithiah discovers the Ark while playing with other young women in the banks of the Nile. She orders them to leave, then shows her servant Memnet the baby. Memnet warned Bithiah that the swaddling cloth was Levite, so the baby was placed there to escape Bithiah's father's edict. But Bithiah declared that this baby would be her son, and remembered when the pyramids were dust, and named "Moses" because she had drawn him from the Nile (the Hebrew name "Moshe" derived from the Hebrew word "Mashu", meaning "to draw"). Despite Memnet's protests about serving a son of Hebrew slaves, Bithiah ordered her to serve him and to swear to secrecy on pain of death. But Memnet hides the cloth under her clothes.
As a young general, Moses is victorious in a war with the Nubian people of ancient Ethiopia, loosing captured ibises to combat the serpents (as recorded by Josephus) and further impresses Seti I by being wily enough to enter into an alliance with the conquered Ethiopians rather than subjugate them. Moses then is charged with building a treasure city for Seti's Jubilee, that Rameses failed to complete (probably the Biblical treasure cities of Pithom and Ramases (Avaris)).
Meanwhile, Moses and Nefretiri are deeply in love; she is the "throne princess", who must marry the next Pharaoh. Rameses wants her for himself, not because of any liking for her but for the throne, but Nefretiri hates him.
When Moses assumes control of the project, he rescued an old grease-woman from being left to be crushed; unknown to him it was his birthmother Yoshebel. Moses tells the Egyptian Master Builder Baka, "blood makes poor mortar" and asks "are you a master builder or a master butcher?" And he frees Joshua the stonecutter who had struck an Egyptian, punishable by death, to try to save Yoshebel whom Joshua didn't know. Moses was impressed with Joshua's bravery and words, and institutes numerous reforms concerning the treatment of the slave workers such as one day in seven to rest and even going so far as to raid temple granaries for necessary food supplies. Moses questions Joshua about his God, and Joshua declares his strong faith but says that God's name is unknown.
Rameses uses these changes as proof that Moses is planning an insurrection by currying the slaves' favor, and points out that the slaves are calling Moses the "Deliverer" of prophecy. However, when Seti confronts Moses, Moses argues he is simply making his workers more productive by making them stronger and happier. He proves his point with such impressive progress on the project that Seti becomes convinced that Rameses falsely accused his foster brother. Seti promises that Moses will get credit for the new city. Rameses, meanwhile, has been charged by his father with the task of finding out if there really is a Hebrew fitting the description of the Deliverer, and is having no luck.
As Nefretiri is joyously preparing for marriage, Memnet informs her that Prince Moses is not a prince at all, but the son of Hebrew slaves. Nefretiri is furious at the accusation, whereupon Memnet produces the Levite cloth and tells Nefretiri to wrap their firstborn in it. Memnet also tells her that a little girl had led her to Yochebel to breastfeed Moses, which she realized must be the real mother. Nefretiri kills Memnet by pushing her over the balcony.
Moses learns of this, so asks Bithiah, who dissembles and reminds him of how he never doubted her when he held his hand as he took his first step. When Moses leaves, promising that no matter what he found, he would always love her. She rushes in a chariot to Yoshebel. Bithiah pleads with her not to reveal anything, since she has put the throne of Egypt within his grasp, and also declares how much she loved and cared for him, and promised to free them and make sure they were well cared for. But Moses had followed from a distance, and Yoshebel could not look him in the eyes and deny that she was his mother. And her robe matched the pattern of the much more faded Levite cloth Memnet kept. Then Yoshebel's adult children introduce themselves to Moses as, "I am your brother, Aaron," and "I am Miriam, your sister." Bithiah sadly departs.
Declaring he is not ashamed ("Egyptian or Hebrew, I'm still Moses"), but curious, he spends time working among the slaves to learn of their hardship, only to be rescued from the mudpits by Nefretiri. Moses then saves Joshua, a Hebrew stonecutter, from being whipped death at the hands of Baka; he kills Baka who was about to whip Joshua to death. Dathan, the devious and ambitious Hebrew overseer who's been charged by Rameses to help him find the Deliverer, watches from hiding. Moses confesses to Joshua that he himself is Hebrew; Joshua excitedly proclaims Moses the Deliverer, and although Moses denies it, Dathan has all the proof he needs. Revealing what he knows to Rameses, Dathan bargains for Baka's house, a post as Governor of Goshen and the ownership of Joshua's betrothed Lilia.
Moses is arrested and brought in chains before Seti, who begs him to say he is not the Deliverer. Moses does so, but avows that he would free the slaves if he could. Bithiah confesses to her brother Seti that she took Moses from the Nile knowing by the design on his blankets that he was Hebrew. In a short, impassioned speech, Moses says that it is evil to enslave or oppress people, "to be stripped of spirit, and hope and faith, all because they are of another race, another creed. If there is a God, He did not mean this to be so!" Seti is grievously hurt, since he said that he had always loved him as a son, more than his own real son Rameses. So Seti imprisons him and orders his name stricken from all records and monuments, to be unspoken in Egypt forever thereafter. Rameses banishes Moses to the desert, fearing to execute him lest he create a martyr. Meanwhile, Seti proclaims Rameses to be the next Pharoah. Nefretiri as the Throne Princess is required to marry the arrogant prince, to her great distress.
Moses makes his way across the desert, nearly dying of hunger and thirst. He comes to a well in the land of Midian. After drinking and eating dates from a nearby palm tree he passes out, to be awakened by the sound of seven sisters watering their flocks. Bullying Amalekites appear, pushing the girls aside, whereupon Moses wakes. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere he thrashes the Amalekites soundly with his staff, forcing them to wait their turn at the well. Moses finds a home in Midian with the girls' father Jethro, a Bedouin sheik, who reveals that he is a follower of "He who has no name", which Moses recognized as the God of Abraham. Jethro explains that they are the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham's first-born. Moses later impresses Jethro and the other shieks with his wise and just trading, so Jethro offers Moses one of his daughters as a wife. Moses chooses the eldest daughter, called Sephora in the film (the Greek form of her name), the least flamboyant but wisest, who was previously the one who had stood up to the Amalekites.
Back in Egypt, Seti dies heartbroken, with Moses' name on his lips, and Rameses succeeds him as Pharaoh (becoming Rameses II), taking Nefretiri as his Queen. Herding sheep in the desert, Moses finds Joshua, who has escaped from hard labour in the copper mines. Moses sees the Burning Bush on the summit of Mount Sinai; climbing up to investigate, he hears the voice of God. Naming himself "I Am That I Am", God charges Moses to return to Egypt and free His chosen people.
At Pharaoh's court, Moses comes before Rameses to win the slaves' freedom, turning his staff into a snake to show Rameses the power of God. Jannes and another magician do the same, but Moses's snake eats the others (not shown; the small son of Rameses and Nefretiri tells his mother with alarm). But the Pharaoh decrees that the Hebrews be given no straw to make their bricks, but to make the same tally as before on pain of death. As the Hebrews prepare to stone Moses in anger, Nefretiri's retinue rescues him; but when she attempts to resume their relationship, he spurns her, reminding her that not only is he on a mission, having been touched by God, but that he is also married.
As Moses continues to challenge Pharaoh's hold over his people, Egypt is beset by divine plagues. We see the water turned into blood, and hear of others. But Rameses hears of a naturalistic explanation of a mountain beyond the Nile cataract spewing red mud, although this would not have explained what the film showed: the red colour starting from where Aaron's stick touched the river and moving away, or the water in pitchers turning red as it was poured. but given this explanation, Rameses declared it not surprising that fish would die and frogs leave the water, and flies would bloat upon their carcasses and spread disease. So Moses predicts hot hail and three days of darkness; the hot hail comes shortly after and bursts into flame on the ground. Moses warns that the next plague would come from his own lips.
Enraged at the plagues and Moses' continuous demands, and at his generals and advisers telling him to give in. Rameses orders all first-born Hebrews to die, but just as Moses had foretold, this intention backfires. Although Nefretiri warns Sephora to escape with Gershom on a passing caravan to Midian, Moses tells her sadly that it is her own son who will die, and he cannot save him. In an eerily quiet scene, the Angel of Death creeps into Egyptian streets in a glowing green cloud, killing all the firstborn of Egypt, including the adult son of Pharaoh's top general, and Pharaoh's own child. Meanwhile, Bithiah is released to Moses.
Broken and despondent, Pharaoh orders Moses to take "your people, your cattle, your God and your pestilence" and go. Dathan is also ordered out when the Egyptian guards sees the sacrifice lamb's blood on the sides of his door frame, his position as an overseer counting for nothing with the Egyptians, the Hebrews resentful of him and refusing him the privileges he expects. The Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt begins.
Goaded into rage by Nefretiri in her grief and anger at Moses, the Pharaoh arms himself and gathers his armies to chase the former slaves to the shore of the Red Sea. Held back by a pillar of fire, the Egyptian forces can only watch as Moses parts the waters ("Behold His mighty hand!") to provide his people an escape route. As the Hebrews race over the seabed, the pillar of fire dies down and the army rides in hot pursuit. The Hebrews make it to the far shore just in time to witness God's closing of the waters on the Egyptian army, drowning every man and horse. Rameses looks on in despair. All he can do is return to Nefretiri, confessing to her, "His god is God."
The former slaves camp at the foot of Sinai and wait as Moses again ascends the mountain. When Moses delays coming down from Sinai, the Hebrews lose faith and, urged on by the evil Dathan, build a golden calf as an idol to bear before them back to Egypt, hoping to win Rameses' forgiveness. Aaron is forced to help fashion the gold plating. He also orders Lilia to be sacrificed. The people proceed to indulge their most wanton desires in an orgy of sinfulness. Sephora, now re-united with Moses, tells the people that he has gone to receive God's Law, and Bithiah asks, "Would the God who's shown you such wonders let Moses die before his work his done?" But their defences are mostly disregarded after Dathan's demagoguery.
Meanwhile, high atop the mountain, Moses witnesses God's creation of the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. When he finally climbs down, Moses beholds his people's iniquity and hurls the tablets at the idol in a rage. The idol explodes, and Dathan and his followers (such as Korah) are killed, a burning crevasse swallows all who do not join Moses at his side. After God forces them to endure forty years' exile in the desert wandering lost to prove their loyalty, the Hebrews finally are on the eve of arriving in the land of Israel. An elderly Moses then appoints Joshua to succeed him as leader (with Lilia by Joshua's side), says a final good bye to his devoted wife Sephora, and goes forth out of Israel to his destiny.
In the commentary for the DVD edition, Katherine Orrison (a protege and biographer of Henry Wilcoxon), describes the historical research that DeMille and associates did at the time. Orrison says that many details of Moses' life which were left out of the Bible are present in the Koran, which was sometimes used as a source. She also describes some coincidences in production; the man who designed Moses' distinctive rust-white-black striped robe used those colors because they looked impressive, and only later discovered that these are the actual colors of the Tribe of Levi. Arnold Friberg would later state that he was the one who designed Moses' costume. As a gift, after the production, DeMille gave Moses' robe to Mr. Friberg who still has it in his possession.
Charlton Heston's newborn son Fraser appeared as the infant Moses. According to Orrison in the DVD commentary, DeMille deliberately timed the filming of his scenes for when Fraser Heston was about three months old. This, and other stories about the making of the film, were related to her by producer/actor Henry Wilcoxon and his wife, Joan Woodbury. Orrison later wrote the book Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille's Epic, The Ten Commandments.
Jesse Lasky Jr., a co-writer on The Ten Commandments, described how the DeMille would customarily spread out prints of Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) paintings to indicate to his set designers the look he wanted to achieve. Artist Arnold Friberg, in addition to designing sets and costumes, also contributed the manner of Moses ordaining Joshua to his mission at the end of the film: hands on Joshua's head. Friberg, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, demonstrated the LDS manner of performing such ordinations, and DeMille liked it.
Pharaoh is usually shown wearing the red-and-white crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. For his pursuit of the Israelites, however, he wears the blue Uraeus helmet-crown, which the Pharaohs wore for battle.
For the original theatrical release of the film, DeMille filmed an onscreen introduction, which was included in home video editions of the film but not the telecasts. In some of his earlier films, DeMille had provided narration, especially at the beginning of the film. This was the only time he was seen as well as heard. He also narrated portions of this film, to provide some continuity between scenes.
Aside from winning the Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Effects, it was also nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color, Best Cinematography, Color, Best Costume Design, Color (Edith Head, Ralph Jester, John Jensen, Dorothy Jeakins and Arnold Friberg), Best Film Editing, Best Picture and Best Sound, Recording.
Critics have argued that considerable liberties were taken with the Biblical story, affecting the film's claim to authenticity, but this has had little effect on its popularity. For decades, a showing of The Ten Commandments was a popular fund-raiser among revivalist Christian churches, while the film was equally treasured among film buffs for DeMille's "cast of thousands" approach and the heroic but antiquated silent-screen-type acting. In the United States, the movie has traditionally been shown on television annually since 1973 on ABC around Palm Sunday, Easter, or Passover.
Due to its fame and popularity the film has been parodied quite some times. Heston's version of Moses was spoofed in History of the World, Part I (1982), in which Mel Brooks, playing Moses, brings fifteen commandments, with the extra five written on a third tablet. He drops and breaks the third tablet and hastily says, "Fifteen, er, ten commandments!"
In The Simpsons the film's setting was spoofed at the beginning of the episode Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment. And obviously in the second segment of The Simpsons Bible Stories wherein Millhouse plays the part of Moses, but also briefly in the third segment where Bart Simpson plays David. When Bart is imprisoned, Chief Wiggum mockingly says: "Where's your Messiah now?", a famous line from the Ten Commandments, said by Edward G. Robinson, on whose voice Chief Wiggum's voice is based. In both segments Wiggum has the same outfit as Robinson in the film.
Other well-known talent in the film's "cast of thousands" included Herb Alpert as a Hebrew drummer, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as a slave, Michael Ansara as an Egyptian taskmaster, Robert Vaughn as a spearman and a Hebrew, Clint Walker as a Sardinian captain and DeMille himself as the film's narrator, all uncredited. In the film's release to theaters (and its subsequent release on home video), DeMille also appeared on screen to introduce the film.
Sets, costumes and props from the film The Egyptian were bought and re-used for this. As the events in The Egyptian take place 70 years before the reign of Rameses II, an unintentional sense of continuity is created. DeMille did not want to cast anyone who had been in The Egyptian, but did accept Michael Ansara (who'd played the Hittite Commander), Mimi Gibson (who'd played Ankhsenpaaten) and John Carradine (who had a cameo as a tomb robber). In addition, the white-clad girl attendants in the court of Pharaoh are played by the same actresses who had these roles in The Egyptian.
An Egyptian wall painting was also the source for the lively dance performed by a circle of young women at Seti's birthday gala. Their movements and costumes are based on art from the Tomb of the Sixth Dynasty Grand Vizier Mehu. The expression "the son of your body" for a biological offspring is based on inscriptions found in Mehu's tomb.
|Lawrence Dobkin||Hur Ben Caleb|
|Fraser Clarke Heston||Infant Moses|
|H.B. Warner||Amminadab (his last role)|
|Woody Strode||King of Ethiopia/Bithiah's litter carrier-slave|
|Rushdy Abaza||Rushti Abaza|
|Henry Brandon||Commander of the Host|
|Dorothy Adams||Slave Woman/Hebrew at Golden Calf/Hebrew at Rameses' Gate|
|Maude Fealy||Slave Woman/Hebrew at Crag & Corridor|
|Gail Kobe||Pretty Slave Girl|
|Henry Corden||Sheik of Sinai|
|Ian Keith||Rameses I|
|Eugene Mazzola||Rameses' son|
|Paula Morgan||Hebrew Woman/Slave Woman|
|Kenneth MacDonald||Hebrew at Crag & Corridor/Slave|
|Dorothy Neumann||Hebrew at Crag & Corridor/Slave/Hebrew at Dathan's Tent|
|Lisa Mitchell||Jethro's Daughter|
|Noelle Williams||Jethro's Daughter|
|Pat Richard||Jethro's Daughter|
|Joyce Vanderveen||Jethro's Daughter|
|Joanna Merlin||Jethro's Daughter|
|Abbas El Boughdadly||Rameses' Charioteer|
|John Miljan||The Blind One|
|Tommy Duran||Gershom, Moses' son|
|Joan Woodbury||Korah's wife|
|Paul De Rolf||Eleazar|
|Robert Carson||Eleazar as an Adult|
|Esther Brown||Princess Tarbis, sister of the Ethiopian King|
|E.J. André||Sheik of Hazerath|
|Eric Alden||High Ranking Officer/Taskmaster/Slave/officer|
|Kay Bell||Taskmaster/Red Bearded slave|
|Mary Benoit|| Guardian of the Prince/Court Woman/Hebrew at Dathan's Tent/ |
Hebrew at Crag & Corridor/Mother
|Rus Conklin||Whip Scarred Brick Carrier/Hebrew at Dathan's Tent|
|Babette Bain||Little Miriam|
|Bobby Clark||Little boy in Exodus, grandson of the Blind One|
|Mimi Gibson||Little Egyptian Girl, granddaughter of the Blind One|
|Edna Mae Cooper||Woman of the Women|
|Nancy Hale||Court Lady in Pool|
|June Jocelyn|| Court lady/Hebrew at Crag & Corridor/Hebrew at Dathan's Tent/ |
Wife of Overseer
|Irene Martin||Tuya, one of the court ladies at the pool|
|Richard Kean||Old Hebrew at Moses Houses/Hebrew Toward Corridor|
|Fred Kohler Jr||Foreman|
|Peter Mamakos||Chief Driver|
|George Melford||Hebrew at Golden Calf/Nobleman|
|John Merton||Architect Assistant|
|Amena Mohamed||Architect Assistant|
|John Parrish||Sheik of Rephidim|
|Amanda Webb||Hebrew at Golden Calf/Young Woman/Hebrew in Exodus|
|Jeane Wood||Slave/Hebrew at Crag & Corridor/Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Rod Redwing||Taskmaster/Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Addison Richards||Fan Bearer|
|Keith Richards|| Hebrew at Golden Calf/Courtier/Slave/Hebrew at Dathan's Tent/ |
Hebrew at Crag & Corridor/Overseer
|Marcoreta Starr||Slave/Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Luis Alberni||Old Hebrew|
|Herb Alpert||Drummer Boy|
|Dehl Berti||Pharaoh's Man Servant/Architects Assistant|
|Gorgen Raymond Aghayan||Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Maria Elena Aza||Dancing Girl|
|Alan Aric||Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Judith Barrett||Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Betty Bassett||Court Woman|
|Ahmed Salah Sayed Ahmed||Slave|
|Ted Allan||Hebrew at Rameses' Gate|
|Vicki Bakken||Egyptian Courtesan|
|Patti Balloon||Hebrew girl at Rameses' Gate|
|George Baxter||2nd Wazir|
|Steven Benson||Kid in massive march|
|Arthur Batanides||Hebrew at Rameses' Gate/Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Prudence Beers||Hebrew at Crag and Corridor/Hebrew at Golden Calf|
|Jack Baston||Fan Bearer|
|Herbert Butterfield||Royal Physician|
|Lesley-Marie Colburn||Slave Child|
Another "legacy" of the film's version of the Decalogue is that it portrays it inaccurately. The film shows the Lord inscribing five Commandments on each of the two tablets. In fact, Hebrew texts state that the two tablets were identical copies, with all ten of the Commandments inscribed upon each.
In the film, the kings of Egypt are all named: Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II. In the Bible, they are given no names but simply called "Pharaoh." See article Pharaoh of the Exodus, and the section above on problematic Pharaoh identifications.
In the Bible, the wives of the Pharaohs are not even mentioned. In the film, we see a great deal of Queen Nefretiri. Her name is a variant of Nefertari, the Great Royal Wife of Rameses II. But Egyptian records show that Rameses loved Nefertari, while in the film Nefretiri hated him. The Bible says "The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart", and the film makes clear that Nefretiri's schemes are the means through which God does this.
The name of the birth mother of Moses in the Bible is Yokheved (Hebrew) or Jochebed (English). In the movie, this is changed to "Yoshebel." She is shown as a very oppressed and endangered slave working on a construction project under hazardous conditions. This may be problematic, since a strong case can be made that the tribe of Levi was not actually enslaved. Perhaps because of this, at one point Yoshebel states: "We are Levites, appointed shepherds of Israel."
While Pharaoh's daughter is no longer mentioned again after the rescuing story in the Bible, the film follows Bithiah's life well into her later years. The story of her following the Israelites out of Egypt is taken from the Midrash.
In the Bible, Moses was 80 during the Exodus, so Bithiah must have been older still, yet in the film she is portrayed as relatively young and healthy enough to carry a child in the trek away.
Baka (as played by Vincent Price) is never mentioned by name in the Bible, and he is not specifically mistreating Joshua when Moses kills him. In the Bible, Dathan is not mentioned as having been a witness to the killing (though, the Bible does mention that, in another incident after Moses kills an Egyptian, he confronts two quarreling Israelites, one of whom accueses Moses of having killed an Egyptian. The Midrash identifies the Israelites as Dathan and his brother Aviram, which may have been the inspiration for this part of the story).
In the film, on the first Passover night, the Destroyer is seen with a crescent moon in the sky. But Passover always begins in the middle of the Hebrew month of Nissan, during a full moon.
In the film, the young Moses is a successful military commander who defeats a Nubian army and makes the Ethiopians allies of Egypt. This is sourced in Josephus, but is not in the Bible.
In Exodus 2:11-12, Moses "looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand." No such caution in the film: Moses jumps right in to fight the Egyptian. Instead of sensibly fleeing to Midian immediately, as he does in the Bible, he stays in Egypt and is arrested and exiled.
The movie adds a subplot about Joshua coming to Moses to beseech him to return to Egypt to free the Israelites.
In the Bible, Moses complains to the Lord that he is slow of speech, and of a slow tongue; in the film he only says "what words can I speak that they will heed?" DeMille considered having Moses stammer slightly, but Heston could not do it, and settled for speaking very slowly. Modern midrash asserts the relevance of the phrase "divine apostasia," which rehabilitates the term "apostasia" from its heretical or pejorative sense by defining it as an inability to articulate given the tools (or limitations rather) of language. This sense of the term apostasia asserts the moral humility and/or wisdom of silence or hesitance applied to speech and writing.
The film shows four of the Plagues of Egypt: Blood, Hail, Darkness, and Death of the Firstborn, omitting the rest. DeMille could not figure out a way to enact the plagues of frogs, flies and so on, without it coming out as unintentionally humorous.
In the Bible, Moses did not say, "If there is one more plague on Egypt, it will be by your word that God will bring it" as he did in the movie, and Pharaoh did not decree that the firstborn of each house of Israel would die, beginning with the son of Moses. This is taken from a Midrash that expands the Biblical narrative in order to explain the origin of the tenth plague.
In the Bible, God executes the tenth plague alone, not by sending the Angel of Death.
Pharaoh may have drowned with his army in Exodus 15:19 (it is unclear; and if so, he was not Ramesses II). In the movie, he prudently stays in the rear and witnesses the parting of the waters.
In Exodus, the Israelites, led by Miriam, sing and dance to celebrate the death of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, and their own liberation. In the film, they stand still in stunned silence.
In the Bible, the reception of the Ten Commandments began as a national revelation, as opposed to the private one depicted in the DeMille film. The story of Moses and seventy Elders of Israel eating and drinking in the presence of God (Exodus 24:9-11) is not found in the film.
The story of Korah and his rebellion, which occurs much later in the Bible narrative, is conflated with that of the Golden Calf in the film. Korah himself plays only an assistant to the ringleader Dathan. Further, in the Bible, Dathan does not die during the Sin of the Golden Calf (nor do his brother Aviram or Korah), but during Korah's rebellion.
In the Bible, God gave Moses not just ten commandments, but 613 Commandments.
The Ten Commandments has been released to DVD on three occasions:
Disc One & Two: The Movie (1956, 220 minutes) + Extras
Second Edition released on March 9, 2004 as a two disc set (Special Collector's Edition), with the following specs:
Disc One & Two: The Movie (1956, 220 minutes) + Extras
Third Edition released on March 21, 2006 as a three disc set (50th Anniversary Collection), with the following specs:
Disc One & Two: The Movie (1956, 220 minutes) + Extras
Disc Three: The Movie (1923 Version, 136 minutes)