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Posted October 1, 2010
Easter Fav' Gets Less Than Perfect Transfer
'The Ten Commandments: Special Edition' is one of the 1950s big budget elephantine Biblical epics with more spectacle than heart. It¿s full of pomp and circumstance, filled to the tip of the pyramids with an all star roster that must have tipped the budgetary scales over at Paramount, and completely overdone beyond all legitimate theater. The story charts the spiritual growth of Moses (Charlton Heston) as he matures into the stark reality that he is not of noble Egyptian blood. This, of course, eventually leads Moses on the righteous path to God as he frees the slaves from bondage. Also featured in this all star cast are Yul Brynner as Ramses, the Pharaoh¿s ruthless first born, Edward G. Robinson, looking rather effeminate in his toga as Nathan, the overseer, Nina Foch as The Princess with a secret to keep and - (chuckle, chuckle) Vincent Price as Backa, the master builder - very effeminate in his Egyptian toga and gaudy head gear. Dame Judith Anderson is effective as Memnet and Sir Cedric Hardwick is particularly poignant as Ramses the first. The production is monumental but stale, thanks to some rather obvious matte process shots and really simplistic animation that is easily spotted and distracting from the otherwise dry performances. Honestly, does anyone think the pillar of fire or burning hale look real? This film is the perennial Easter fav' amongst secular Christians, but for my money the average DVD consumer will be much more emotionally satisfied with BEN-HUR. That goes double for the transfer quality of this DVD. This is the same transfer as the previously issued and reviewed disc. It is riddled with edge enhancement, shimmering of fine details and pixelization that thoroughly distract from the visual presentation. Although colors are bold, rich and vibrant and black and contrast levels are deep - with fine detail evident throughout - the digital anomalies on both discs totally undercuts its assets in picture quality. The audio is a 5.1 remix and generally engaging in its spread. EXTRAS: We get a 6 part documentary that - like those featured on Paramount's 'Once Upon The Time In The Old West' - would have been better edited into one documentary instead of 6 featurettes. There's also an audio commentary that's - well, flat and uninspiring - unlike the film's subject matter. BOTTOM LINE: After providing us with stunning digital transfers of 'Sunset Blvd.' and 'Roman Holiday' I sort of thought Paramount Home Video had turned over a new leaf. They haven't. This transfer is unworthy of the moniker 'Special Edition' and it just goes to show that classics continue to get shafted over at Paramount. For shame!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.