Every Easter Sunday, the world-famous biblical epic movie, The Ten Commandments, is always featured on American television through ABC. It has been shown since 1973 and was temporarily stopped in 1999. Due to its partial hiatus on television, the ABC network received many irate calls from viewers accustomed to watching it with their families every Easter morning.
Trivia facts about the 1956 The Ten Commandments movie
Here are some trivia facts about the movie:
1) The Ten Commandments was the highest-earning live-action film after surpassing the 1939 “Gone with the Wind”; the record was finally broken by “The Sound of Music” (1965).
2) Charlton Heston, the actor who played Moses in the movie has a newborn son, named Fraser Clarke Heston. The baby appeared as the infant Moses.
3) Before opening credits at the theaters, Director Cecil B. DeMille gave a speech, introducing the film saying:
Ladies and gentlemen, young and old, this may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the film begins, but we have an unusual subject, the story of the birth of freedom, the story of Moses. As many of you know, the Holy Bible omits some 30 years of the life of Moses. From when he was a three-month-old baby and was found in the bulrushes by Bithiah, by Bithiah, the daughter of Pharoah and adopted into the court of Egypt until he learned that he was Hebrew and killed the Egyptian. To fill in those missing years, we turn to ancient historians, Philo and Josephus. Philo wrote at the time Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth and Josephus wrote some 50 years later and watched the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. These historians had access to had to access to documents long since burnt destroyed – or perhaps lost like the Dead Ses Scrolls. The theme of this picture is whether a man ought to be ruled by God’s law, or whether by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the state or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today. Our intention was not to create a story but to be worthy of the divinely inspired story, created 3,000 years ago. The story takes three hours and thirty-nine minutes to unfold. There will be an intermission. Thank you, for your attention.”
4) Cecil B. DeMille also celebrated his 75th birthday during the filming of the movie, making him the oldest director during those times. He also had a heart attack during his directing, thus making The Ten Commandments his last masterpiece.
5) When Yul Brynner was told he would be playing Pharaoh Rameses II opposite of Charlton Heston’s Moses and that he would be shirtless for a majority of the film, he began a rigorous weightlifting program because he did not want to be physically overshadowed by Heston.
6) The hailstones that fell onto the pavilion of Rameses’ palace were actually pieces of popcorn that had been spray-painted white; their advantage was that they were light, wouldn’t hurt actors when they were hit by them, and could be swept up and used again if needed in other scenes.
7) Charlton Heston who starred in the biblical movie, The Ten Commandments as Moses in 1956 also played Judah Ben-Hur in the movie Ben-Hur where he won an Oscar for Best Actor.
8) The voice of God during the creation of the 10 commandments at Mt. Sinai was a combination of Charlton Heston and director Cecil B. DeMille’s voices.
9) Cecil B. DeMille picked Charlton Heston for the role of Moses because he bore a resemblance to Michelangelo’s statue of Moses in Rome, Italy. Heston later played Michelangelo in “The Agony and the Ecstasy” (1965).
10) The script of movie contained 308 pages with 70 speaking parts.
Filmed on location in Egypt, Mount Sinai, and the Sinai Peninsula, the film is DeMille’s last and most successful work. It is a partial remake of his 1923 silent film of the same title and features one of the largest sets ever created for a film. At the time of its release on November 8, 1956, it was the most expensive film made up to that point.
In 1957, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (John P. Fulton). Charlton Heston was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama) for his role as Moses. Yul Brynner won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor for his role as Rameses and his other roles in Anastasia and The King and I.
Here is a preview of the iconic scene of The Ten Commandments movie:
It is also one of the most financially successful films ever made, grossing approximately $122.7 million ($1.3 billion in 2014 dollars) at the box office during its initial release; it was the most successful film of 1956 and the second-highest-grossing film of the decade. According to Guinness World Records, in terms of the theatrical exhibition, it is the eighth-most successful film of all-time when the box office gross is adjusted for inflation1.