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4K Ultra HD Review: The Ten Commandments: 65th Anniversary (SteelBook Edition)

December 21, 2021

By John Corrado

Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epic The Ten Commandments is one of the biggest and most beloved studio pictures of all time and, in my opinion, the nearly four hour film from 1956 still holds up quite well in terms of its grandeur and scope.

In honour of the film’s 65th anniversary, Paramount released The Ten Commandments for the first time on 4K Ultra HD in time for Easter earlier this year. Now the studio has reissued the 4K disc as part of a very nice four-disc SteelBook set, which adds back in a third Blu-ray disc that was notably absent from the earlier 4K release, containing DeMille’s 1923 silent film version (an interesting companion piece) and a variety of bonus features.

According to the press release, the 4K disc is sourced from a 6K scan of the original VistaVision negative that was done as part of the film’s restoration in 2010, with Paramount spending “well over 150 hours doing new colour work and clean-up on the scan.” It goes on to note that “the move to Dolby Vision created the opportunity to further improve the look of the film: blacks are enhanced and improvements were made to smooth out special effects mattes to create the most vibrant and pristine image possible.”

DeMille’s film has always been famous for its costumes, production design, cast of hundreds of extras, and groundbreaking, Oscar-winning special effects. The 2160p resolution allows us to really see finer details on the costumes and sets (including the reeds around the river where baby Moses is floated down in a basket) with impressive colour and clarity. Some of the seams are visible during the famous parting of the Red Sea sequence, but the special effects are still quite impressive for their time. The film really is a feast for the eyes, and this is the sharpest it has ever looked at home.

The SteelBook is a rich red colour that is appropriately eye-catching, featuring an illustration of Moses (Charlton Heston) holding the tablets on the front cover with Ramses (Yul Brenner) on the back, and an image from the Red Sea sequence spread across the inside. The 4K and 1923 film discs are held on either side of the case, with a plastic arm in the middle holding the two additional Blu-rays containing the 1956 film spread between them. Notably, there are no tabs inside the case to hold the digital copy code (mine was glued to the back under the standard cardboard j-sleeve).

The three Blu-rays included in the case are identical to the ones from the 2020 DigiBook release. But with the addition of the 4K UHD disc, and the 1923 version that was missing from the previous release, this SteelBook offers the best of both worlds between the DigiBook and the earlier 4K edition. This is the definitive version for SteelBook collectors and 4K enthusiasts alike, who are looking to add this absolute classic to their collections.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

The set includes a commentary track on the 4K disc, with the remainder of the previously released bonus features to be found on the three Blu-ray discs. Digital copy codes for both the 1956 and 1923 films are also included in the package.

4K Ultra HD:

Commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of “Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments

Blu-ray Disc 1:

Audio Commentary

Blu-ray Disc 2:

Audio Commentary

Newsreel: The Ten Commandments – Premiere in New York (2 minutes, 24 seconds)

Trailers (12 minutes, 40 seconds)

1956 “Making Of” Trailer (10 minutes, 1 seconds)

1966 Trailer (55 seconds)

1989 Trailer (1 minute, 43 seconds)

Blu-ray Disc 3:

Hand-Tinted Footage of the Exodus and the Parting of the Red Sea Sequence (1923 film) (21 minutes, 5 seconds)

Two-Color Technicolor Segment (1923 film) (8 minutes, 43 seconds)

Photo Gallery (1923 film)

The Ten Commandments: Making Miracles (1956 film) (1 hour, 13 minutes and 14 seconds)

Photo Gallery (1956 film)

The Ten Commandments is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 231 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: November 23rd, 2021

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2022 7:36 am

    Does anyone know what the LIMIT is of the EDITION?
    CONCERNING:
    4K Ultra HD Review: The Ten Commandments: 65th Anniversary (SteelBook Limited Edition)

    Like

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