Friday, March 24, 2006

Younger generation sadly unfamiliar with Cecil B. DeMille's epics

This week I trekked down to Circuit City to get a very inexpensive ($14.99) copy of the 3-disc 50th anniversary edition of Cecil B. DeMille's classic "The Ten Commandments". As I was signing the credit card receipt I thought about the movie and started to chuckle. I handed the signed receipt back to the store clerk and said "So let it be written, so let it be done!"

He looked at me with an expression that told me he thought dementia was just around the corner.

I called and told my son what happened (even though he is in his early thirties, he came to appreciate the historic epics from a young age - thanks to his mother) and he said he couldn't believe how many people from the bible belt (he lives in the Chicago area now) have never even seen "Ben Hur"! He was totally aghast!

Anyway, the new edition, much like the anniversary edition of Ben Hur, contains
  • Cecil B. DeMille's original 1923 silent version
  • Hand-tinted footage of the Exodus and Parting of the Red Sea Sequence from the 1923 version
  • Commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of "Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille's Epic, The Ten Commandments," on both the 1956 and 1923 versions
  • 6-part, 37-minute "making of" documentary, featuring interviews with Charlton Heston and composer Elmer Bernstein, among others
  • Newsreel footage of the New York premiere
  • 3 theatrical trailers: 1956 "Making of" trailer, 1966 re-release trailer, 1989 re-release trailer
Personally, I liked the first part of the movie best. Moses became irritatingly self-righteous after his encounter with the burning bush. Overall, however, a spectacle worthy of its place in cinematic history.

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