Ten Commandments

Ten Commandments is one of my favorite movies and has been an Easter tradition in my family for as long as I can remember.

Here are some interesting facts, some even new to me.

  1. To make the film, it took 1,200 storyboards, a 308-page script and 70 speaking roles and was five years in the making.
  2. The uninterrupted viewing length of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 version is 3 hours and 39 minutes.
  3. The Ten Commandments aired Saturday, April 4 in 2020. It is also available to stream on Amazon and Hulu.
  4. The Ten Commandments was actually shot in Egypt for 10 weeks, finishing up on the Paramount lot for eight months.
  5. Fraser Heston (Charlton’s then-3-year-old son) played baby Moses.
  6. John Derek, born Derek Delevan Harris, played Joshua in The Ten Commandments.
  7. Charlton Heston landed the role after DeMille saw Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, which he thought resembled the actor. Heston also voiced God for the burning bush scene.
  8. Jewelry worn by Anne Baxter (Queen Nefretiri), among others, was based on authentic designs from the time of Ramses I.
  9. For the movie’s opening credits, Paramount’s signature mountain, the Matterhorn, was re-colorized red to represent Mount Sinai.
  10. Sandstorm effects were created by strapped-down jet plane engines provided by the Egyptian air force.
  11. DeMille had a heart attack during filming; but three days later, he was back at work, against his doctor’s orders, to complete the movie.
  12. Edward G. Robinson (Dathan) was almost blacklisted in Hollywood for his left-wing politics and claimed this role saved his career.
  13. Yul Brynner was an avid photographer and loved taking photos of the production.
  14. DeMille made a silent version of the film in 1923 with both an ancient and modern storyline.
  15. A wax figure of Pharaoh’s son was made for the death scene to lay on the altar.
  16. The illusion of the Red Sea parting was achieved by filming large tanks flooded with 350,000 gallons of water (with gelatin added to thicken it) and wind machines, then showing the footage in reverse.
  17. The parting of the Red Sea was saved until last because the chariots were destroyed.
  18. The chariots were built in the U.S., shipped to Egypt, and then returned to the U.S.
  19. Elmer Bernstein was hired to do the music when DeMille’s first choice, Victor Young, got ill.
  20. DeMille was 75 when he filmed The Ten Commandments, Hollywood’s oldest working director at that time. It was his final film.


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