Gigantic peplum, The Ten Commandments is a major work of cinema, which in 1956, pushes the limits of what a big Hollywood production can be.
The Ten Commandments directed by Cecil B. DeMille is a monument of cinema in more than one way. A film of unequaled magnitude for the time, endowed with ambitious special effects and gigantic public success, it is still a classic of the cinema carried by Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Anne Baxter, Yul Brynner, Yvonne From Carlo or John Carradine.
2: The duration of the shooting, in years. More than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy!
3: The number of months Fraser Clark Heston, son of Charlton, was when he shot the scenes of Baby Moses. According to legend, filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille had stalled the filming of the scenes of this baby exactly for his three months, the age at which he was put in a basket by his mother.
7: The Oscar nominations for the film, which won “only” for Best Special Effects.
10: At the time, Paramount Pictures unveiled a 10-minute long trailer, accompanied by commentary from Cecil B. DeMille himself, outlining the studio’s intentions with the film. You can see this trailer below (slightly truncated in its duration):
45: This is the number of meters climbed by Cecil B. DeMille in order to resolve a problem with the camera located at the top of one of the doors of the exodus scene. The 75-year-old making him the oldest working director in Hollywood at the time, DeMille suffered a heart attack as a result of this physical feat. But after only two days off, he resumed filming, against the advice of his doctor.
220: The duration of the film, in minutes. It takes 207 minutes for the Ten Commandments to truly appear. The filming scenario is also very long, with no less than 308 pages on the counter!
1200: The total of storyboards used for the film, which contains a lot of special effects.
1923: The release date of the previous version of the Ten Commandments by Cecil B. DeMille. It was already a pharaonic production as evidenced by the film itself (which has fallen into the public domain and legally available on Youtube). In particular, the following tank scene was completely improvised:
14,000: The estimated minimum number of extras who would have been engaged in the film, including 2000 will be employed just to play slaves. Of the rest, around 15,000 animals will also take part in the filming.
631.7 million: This is the total dollars brought in by the film, reassessed at 2021 inflation. It is still the biggest theatrical success for an epic religious-themed film.
But Charlton Heston isn’t just Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments: