USCCB’s Review of The Ten Commandments

The classic biblical tale of the Exodus is effectively retold with 3-D computer-generated imagery animation in The Ten Commandments (Promenade), and narrator Sir Ben Kingsley leads an impressive voice ensemble.

We know the story. Raised as an Egyptian prince but exiled because of his violent defense of an Israelite slave, Moses (voice of Christian Slater) encounters the God of his ancestors (soothingly personified by Elliott Gould) in a burning bush in the wilderness. God commands him to go to the Pharaoh, here named Ramses (Alfred Molina), and demand freedom for the Hebrews.

When Ramses refuses, we see Moses, supported by his brother, Aaron (Christopher Gaze), and his sister, Miriam (Kathleen Barr), employ miraculous God-given powers to bring down a series of plagues on the Pharaoh's people, culminating in the deaths of all their firstborn sons on the night of Passover.

Ramses, as we know, finally agrees to let God's people go. When he later pursues them, his entire army is drowned in the Red Sea. As the Israelites wander in the desert, they rebel against God and Moses. Led by the constantly kvetching Dathan (Lee Tockar), they repeatedly put God to the test. By the time Moses returns from the heights of Mount Sinai, where God has given him the tablets of the law, the Hebrew wanderers are already busy breaking the First Commandment by worshipping an idolatrous golden calf.

Directors Bill Boyce and John Stronach's film, the production company's debut and the first in a proposed series of Epic Stories of the Bible takes advantage of high-tech animation to present its story on a suitably grand scale. There are vast crowds (no extras to pay here!) and the Pharaoh's palace is splendiferous.

The film is essentially faithful to the scriptural record. Only a few dramatic details — such as the youthful friendship between Moses and Ramses — have been judiciously added.

The Ten Commandments thus provides a reasonably good introduction to a vital piece of biblical history for children, also serving as a pleasant refresher course for the adults who accompany them.

The film contains some images that may be mildly frightening for very young children. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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