“So let it be cheesy. So let it be fun.”

Someday a statistician will have to write a paper about the probability, if one tunes in at random to the film The Ten Commandments, of the first thing one sees being Yul Brynner saying “So let it be written. So let it be done.” I flipped the TV on yesterday, and sure enough, that’s what I saw. That’s the only line I–and most people I’ve talked to about it–can ever remember clearly from the film.

It’s kind of sad that a cheesy, 60-year old movie that I have seen 10 times already was still the best thing on television last night. Add to this that I’m not religious, and it becomes even more pathetic.

But that’s not the point. The point is that, although the picture quality in the film was great, there were some times when it made obvious special-effects look all the worse. For instance, in the scene where Rameses is exiling Moses from Egypt, Rameses and Moses are looking at each other, a few feet apart. When the camera is on Rameses, he is standing in front of what is fairly obviously a painting of the Nile. Cut to Moses, who is standing in a very real desert, with a vast wasteland stretching out behind him. The shots of Moses are great; they could have come from a modern-day film. The shots of Rameses are laughably bad, even for 1956. It’s jarring.

Obviously, though, that hasn’t hurt the movie’s popularity. Even I enjoy it, although it’s not anywhere close to what I’d call a “great” movie.

Oh, and happy Easter.


    1. That is an impressive scene, for its time. It could be done digitally now (although water is still one of the hardest things for filmmakers to get right) but it must have been to viewers in 1956 practically what the 3-D in “Avatar” is to viewers now.

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