• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Monday, November 12, 2007

    The Ten Commandments (2007)
    Scene Guide

    I've been meaning to post this ever since I wrote my review of Promenade Pictures'The Ten Commandments (2007), so here it is. Readers may be interested to compare it with the Scene Guides for a couple of other Moses films, last year's live action TV mini series The Ten Commandments (part 1 and part 2), 1996's mini series Moses (part 1 and part 2). I've been meaning to post scene guides for Moses the Lawgiver (1975) since July, but have never quite got around to it. Anyway, on to the scene guide for this film.
    Israel enslaved - (Ex 1:8-14)
    Moses on the Nile - (Ex 1:22-2:10)
    [extra-biblical episode - Opening credits]
    [extra-biblical episode - Moses and Ramsees play]
    Moses kills the Egyptian - (Ex 2:11-12)
    Moses sent away - (Ex 2:15a)
    Moses and Jethro's daughters - (Ex 2:15b-22)
    Burning Bush - (Ex 3:1-4:17)
    Moses returns to Egypt - (Ex 4:27- 2:23)
    Moses's first appearance before Pharaoh - (Ex 5:1-10; 7:8-13)
    Bricks without Straw - (Ex 5:11-21)
    Moses appeals to God - (Ex 5:22-6:9)
    Water to Blood - (Ex 7:14-25)
    Lice - (Ex 8:16-19)
    Frogs - (Ex 8:1-15)
    Flies - (Ex 8:20-32)
    Murrain - (Ex 9:1-7)
    Sores - (Ex 9:8-12)
    Hail - (Ex 9:13-35)
    Locusts - (Ex 10:1-20)
    Darkness - (Ex 10:21-23)
    Pharaoh appeals to Moses - (Ex 10:24-29)
    Passover - (Ex 12:1-28)
    Death of First Born - (Ex 12:29-30)
    The Exodus - (Ex 12:31-39)
    Pilars of cloud and fire - (Ex 13:20-14:4)
    Pharaoh changes his mind - (Ex 14:5-14)
    Parting of the Red Sea - (Ex 14:15-31)
    Song of Moses - (Ex 15)
    Water from Rock - (Ex 17:1-7)
    Manna and Quails - (Ex 16:1-15)
    Aaron and Miriam question Moses - (Num 12:1-8)
    Moses on Sinai - (Ex 19:1-6)
    Golden Calf - (Ex 32:1-6)
    Ten Commandments - (Ex 20:1-17, 34:29)
    Golden Calf - (Ex 32:15-)
    Building Tabernacle - (Ex 36:1-38)
    God changes his mind - (Ex 32:7-14, Num 14:10-35)
    Death of Miriam - (Num 20:1)
    Death of Aaron - (Num 20:22-29)
    Moses tells joshua about his death - (Num 27:12-23)
    Final Speech - (Deut 1:1-8)
    Death of Moses - (Deut 34:1-12)
    A quick look at that confirms one of the points I made about this in my review: this film crams an awful lot of the biblical material into it's 90 minute run time. A quick comparison with those other scene guides - which were for 3 hour productions - confirms this. There's obviously many more episodes that could have been included (battle against the Amonites, Jethro's visit, other rebellions etc.), but this is as complete a telling of the full Moses story as any other, yet in a fraction of the time.

    That said it's interesting how this film handles much of the material in a similar vein to DeMille's take on The Ten Commandments. (He made two versions in 1923 and then the Charlton Heston version in 1956. It's the latter one that is dominant in the public imagination, largely because it imports the best aspects - to DeMille's mind at least - from the first film, and expands on them.) So, for example, both the Ten Commandments scene and the Golden calf incident, are handled as DeMille handles them; Moses goes up a mountain, receives the tablets bearing the commandments, and returns to find rebellion in the camp, the punishment for which is wandering in the desert for 40 years.

    Biblically speaking, however, the Ten Commandments are given to all the people whilst Moses is at the foot of the mountain (although he has made several treks up and down the mountain by this point), and he then goes to spend time with God. When he discovers the people's unfaithfulness, the punishment is death to those who refuse to repent. It's not until the survivors refuse to trust Joshua and Caleb, as opposed to the other 10 spies, that the people are sentences to wander in the desert until they die. It perhaps not surprising that an animated film aimed at kids edits the material in this way, but the reliance on DeMille is striking. Another example is Moses' banishment after killing the Egyptian. I wonder to what extent the script writers were aware of this as they wrote?This is one of the only films about Moses that deals with each of the ten plagues in turn. The sequence in Exodus does become rather repetitive and so usually film-makers focus on the reaction to one or two before seguing their way through the rest of them, or just omitting / combining some of the ones in the middle before returning to the plague of death at the end. This one gives time to each of them.

    One thing I did notice, however, is that it moves the plague of lice to number 2 (rather than number 3). It's an incredibly minor point, of course, but that only peaks my curiosity. Why was this change made? (That's not an objection, by the way, it just strikes me as strange).There were also a few little visual things I wanted to add in her. Firstly, it's interesting how this film makes the giving of the Ten Commandments even more spectacular. In the DeMille films there are pyrotechnics as fire from heaven carves the words into stone.This film goes way beyond, as the two tablets are caught up into the sky in a whoosh of stars, and are gradually lowered in front of Moses. It's one of the film's most original moments, and, sadly, its worst.

    As I mentioned in my review, there are, however, some nice visual moments. I was reminded of the God shot during the parting of the Red Sea, which, again, is otherwise very DeMille. There's also a shot during the manna and quails episode of one of the older men, whose naked chest bears the scars of his time as a slave, and lends extra poignancy to the rose-tinted nostalgia that the people are expressing for Egypt and it's food.

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