The Ten Commandments

Synopsis: To escape the edict of Egypt's Pharaoh, Rameses I, condemning all newborn Hebrew males, the infant Moses is set adrift on the Nile in a reed basket. Saved by the pharaoh's daughter Bithiah, he is adopted by her and brought up in the court of her brother, Pharaoh Seti. Moses gains Seti's favor and the love of the throne princess Nefertiri, as well as the hatred of Seti's son, Rameses. When his Hebrew heritage is revealed, Moses is cast out of Egypt, and makes his way across the desert where he marries, has a son and is commanded by God to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery. In Egypt, Moses' fiercest enemy proves to be not Rameses, but someone near to him who can 'harden his heart'.
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Director(s): Cecil B. DeMille
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
220 min

Ladies and gentlemen, young and old,

this may seem an unusual procedure,

speaking to you

before the picture begins,

but we have an unusual subject:

the story of the birth of freedom.

The story of Moses.

As many of you know,

the Holy Bible omits

some 30 years of Moses' life,

from the time he was

a three-month-old baby

and was found in the bulrushes

by Bithiah,

the daughter of Pharaoh,

and adopted into the court of Egypt

until he learned that he was Hebrew

and killed the Egyptian.

To fill in those missing years,

we turned to ancient historians

such as Philo and Josephus.

Philo wrote at the time that

Jesus of Nazareth walked the Earth,

and Josephus wrote some 50 years later

and watched the destruction

of Jerusalem by the Romans.

These historians had access

to documents

long since destroyed,

or perhaps lost,

like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The theme of this picture

is whether men are

to be ruled by God's law,

or whether they are to be ruled by

the whims of a dictator like Rameses.

Are men the property of the state,

or are they free souls under God?

This same battle continues

throughout the world today.

Our intention was not to create a story,

but to be worthy

of the divinely inspired story

created 3,000 years ago:

the five books of Moses.

The story takes three hours

and 39 minutes to unfold.

There will be an intermission.

Thank you for your attention.

And God said, "Let there be light. "

And there was light.

And from this light,

God created life upon Earth.

And man was given dominion

over all things upon this Earth,

and the power to choose

between good and evil,

but each sought to do his own will

because he knew not

the light of God's law.

Man took dominion over man.

The conquered

were made to serve the conqueror

The weak were made to serve the strong.

And freedom was gone from the world.

So did the Egyptians

cause the children of Israel

to serve with rigor;

and their lives were made bitter

with hard bondage,

and their cry came up unto God

and God heard them.

And cast into Egypt,

into the lowly hut

of Amram and Yochabel,

the seed of a man

upon whose mind and heart

would be written

God's law and God's commandments.

One man to stand alone

against an empire.

Divine One,

last night our astrologers

saw an evil star

- enter into the house of Egypt.

- Meaning war?

From the frontiers of Sinai and Libya

to the cataracts of the Nile.

What nation would dare

draw the sword against us?

The enemy to fear

is in the heart of Egypt.


The Hebrew slaves

in the land of Goshen.

I number my enemies by their swords,

not by their chains, High Priest.

Chains have been forged

into swords before now, Divine One.

Among these slaves,

there is a prophecy of a deliverer

who will lead them out of bondage.

The star proclaims his birth.

Then let the Hebrews die.

Slaves are wealth, Commander.

The more slaves we have,

the more bricks we make.

I would still see fewer bricks made

and fewer Hebrews in Goshen.

It is our eastern gate.

Since this deliverer

is among their newborn,

only their newborn need die.

Every newborn Hebrew man-child

shall die.

So let it be written,

so let it be done.

So speaks Rameses I.


Oh, no!

Please! Please! No!

God of Abraham,

take my child into thy hands,

that he may live to thy service.

But Mother,

we have not even given him a name.

God will give him a name.

Follow it, Miriam.

Watch it from the reeds.

- See where the Lord will lead him.

- Yes, Mother.

- Why didn't you say no?

- She didn't think of it.

Here! Throw!

- You're getting fat.

- Too many sesame cakes!

Catch a lotus and you catch a wish.

What will you wish for,

Tuya, gold or a man?

Gold, of course.

- Then I could have any man!

- Gold will never fill an empty heart.

Quiet, you chattering geese.

Memnet, you're only happy

when you're miserable.

You fools! Talk of empty hearts

before the Pharaoh's daughter.

What is there in her heart,

but the memory of a dead husband?

We meant no harm, Memnet.

Look, there's something here!

Be sure it's not a crocodile!

Bithiah can charm tears

from a crocodile.

What is it, Bithiah?

What did you End?

Only a drifting basket.

- Shall we come and help you get it?

- Memnet, send the girls away.

I'd rather be alone now.

Now see what you've done.

Back to the palace, all of you.

- Go on. All of you. Musicians, too.

- We wouldn't hurt Bithiah.

Bithiah's tired of you and so am I.

Off you go.

- You're tired of everything.

- Go on. Off you go.

Go on. Hurry up!

You've hurt her enough.

- What have you found?

- The answer to my prayers.

You prayed for a basket?

No. I prayed for a son.

Your husband

is in the house of the dead.

And he has asked the Nile god

to bring me this beautiful boy.

Do you know the pattern

of this cloth?

If my son is covered in it... is a royal robe.

Royal? It is the Levite cloth

of a Hebrew slave.

This child was put upon the water

to save its life

from your father's edict.

I am the Pharaoh's daughter,

and this is my son.

He shall be reared in my house

as the Prince of the Two Lands.

My mother and her mother before her

were branded to the Pharaoh's service.

I will not see you make this son

of slaves a prince of Egypt.

You will see it, Memnet.

You will see him walk

with his head among the eagles.

And you will serve him as you serve me.

Fill the ark with water.

Sink it into silence.

Raise your hands, Memnet.

What you have buried in the Nile

shall remain buried in your heart.

- Swear it.

- I will be silent.

The day you break that oath will be

the last your eyes shall ever see.

You will be the glory of Egypt, my son.

Mighty in words and deeds.

Kings shall bow before you.

Your name will live

when the pyramids are dust.


...because I drew you from the water,

you shall be called Moses.

Moses! Moses!


He proclaims his coming from afar,

does he not, my son?

Such favor with the people

can be dangerous, Great Sethi.

To whom, Rameses? To me or to you?

It would not be the first time that fame

has turned a prince against his Pharaoh.

Or that envy has turned a brother

against his brother.

Envy is for the weak.

And beauty is for the strong.

That is what you have in mind.

If you mean Nefretiri, yes, my father.

Is it the princess'

beauty that attracts you, Rameses,

or the fact that she must marry the man

I choose to follow me on the throne?

I am the son of your body.

Who else could be your heir?

The man best able to rule Egypt

will follow me.

I owe that to my fathers,

not to my sons.

- Then I shall follow you.

- Shall you?

Do not let ambition

shave your prince's lock.

I sent Moses to destroy a city.

He returns in triumph.

I sent you to build a city.

Where is it?

It will rise when I have put fear

into the stiff-necked

Hebrew slaves who build it.

But this I know, my father:

no pretended brother

will ever have your crown...

...or Nefretiri.

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Dorothy Clarke Wilson

Dorothy Clarke Wilson (May 9, 1904 – March 26, 2003) was an American writer, perhaps best known for her novel Prince of Egypt (1949), which was a primary source for the Cecil B. DeMille film, The Ten Commandments (1956). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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