The Construction of a Christ-figure
within the 1956 and 1923 Versions of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments

Anton Karl Kozlovic
School of Humanities
Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia


1. Many scholars have spelled Cecil’s surname as ‘De Mille’ or ‘de Mille’ or ‘deMille’, however, the correct professional spelling is ‘DeMille’ – C.B. DeMille & D. Hayne (ed.), The Autobiography of Cecil B.DeMille, W. H. Allen, London, 1960, p.6.

2. The Ten Commandments , (dir. Cecil B. DeMille), 1956.

3. D. Desser, ‘Transcendental Style in Tender Mercies’, Religious Communication Today, vol. 8, 1985, p.21.

4. DeMille was the son of a Christian (Episcopalian) lay minister father, Henry Churchill DeMille (DeMille & Hayne, pp.12-13) and a (Sephardic) Jewish mother, Matilda Beatrice ‘Bebe’ DeMille nee Samuel – A. Edwards, The DeMilles: An American Family, Collins, London, 1988, p.14.

5. Although there are real ontological differences between ‘film’, ‘cinema’, ‘video’, ‘TV movie’, ‘CD’, ‘DVD’ ‘Internet movie’ and other designations such as ‘movies’, ‘silver screen’, ‘pictures’, ‘motion pictures’, ‘flicks’ etc., they are all audiovisual images and will be treated herein as essentially interchangeable.

6. R. Behlmer (ed.), Memo from David O. Selznick, The Viking Press, New York, 1972, p.400.

7. The Ten Commandments , (dir. Cecil B. DeMille), 1956; The Ten Commandments, (dir. Cecil B. DeMille), 1923.

8. R.H. Campbell & M.R. Pitts, The Bible on Film: A Checklist, 1897-1980, The Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ, 1981.

9. The Passion of the Christ , (dir. Mel Gibson), 2004.

10. G. Ringgold & D. Bodeen, The Complete Films of Cecil B. DeMille, The Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1969.

11. H. Manfull (ed.), Additional Dialogue: Letters of Dalton Trumbo, 1942-1962, Evans, New York, 1970, p.357.

12. K. Orrison, Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments, Vestal Press, Lanham, 1999, p.108.

13. T. Longman III, Making Sense of the Old Testament: 3 Crucial Questions, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 1998, p.111.

14. C.P. Mitchell, The Devil on Screen: Feature Films Worldwide 1913 through 2000, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2002, p.165.

15. W.C. Clapham, The Movie Treasury. Western Movies: The Story of the West on Screen, Octopus Books, London, 1974, p.21.

16. J.W. Finler, The Movie Directors Story, Octopus Books, London, 1985, p.32.

17. The King of Kings , (dir. Cecil B. DeMille), 1927.

18. Samson and Delilah , (dir. Cecil B. DeMille), 1949.

19. J.H. Mahan, ‘Celluloid Savior: Jesus in the Movies’, Journal of Religion and Film, vol. 6, no. 1, p.3.

20. R. Birchard, Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 2004; DeMille & Hayne; Edwards; G. Essoe & R. Lee, DeMille: The Man and His Pictures, Castle Books, New York, 1970; S. Higashi, Cecil B. DeMille and American Culture: The Silent Era, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1994; C. Higham, Cecil B. DeMille, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1973; P.A. Koury, Yes, Mr. DeMille, Putnam, New York, 1959; Ringgold & Bodeen, 1969.

21. L. Giannetti, Masters of the American Cinema, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1981, p.19.

22. L. Kardish, Reel Plastic Magic: A History of Films and Filmmaking in America, Little, Brown, Boston, 1972, p.133.

23. R. Wortley, Erotic Movies, Crescent Books, New York, 1977, p.14.

24. C. Higham, ‘Cecil Blount DeMille’, in J.A. Garraty (ed.), Dictionary of American Biography. Supplement Six: 1956-1960, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1980, p.160.

25. M.J. Wright, Moses in America: The Cultural Uses of Biblical Narrative, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, p.5.

26. T. Bywater & T. Sobchack, An Introduction to Film Criticism: Major Critical Approaches to Narrative Film, Longman, New York, 1989.

27. M.P. Gallagher, ‘Theology, Discernment and Cinema’, in J.R. May (ed.), New Image of Religious Film, Sheed & Ward, Kansas City, 1997, p.151.

28. R. Ellis, ‘Movies and Meaning’, The Expository Times, vol. 112, no. 9, 2001, p.304.

29. B.F. Dick, Anatomy of Film, 3 rd ed., St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1998, p.129.

30. A.K. Kozlovic, ‘From Holy Aliens to Cyborg Saviours: Biblical Subtexts in Four Science Fiction Films’, The Journal of Religion and Film, vol. 5, no. 2, 2001, p.1-13.

31. A.K. Kozlovic, ‘Sacred Subtexts and Popular Film: A Brief Survey of Four Categories of Hidden Religious Figurations’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol. 18, no. 3, 2003, p.315-332.

32. The Authorized King James Version of the Bible (KJV aka AV) will be used throughout, unless quoting other translations.

33. P. Roen, High Camp: A Gay Guide to Camp and Cult Films. Volume 1, Leyland Publications, San Francisco, 1994, p.219.

34. J.L. Lasky Jr, Whatever Happened to Hollywood?, W.H. Allen, London, 1973, p.261.

35. V.M. Andersen, ‘Arnold Friberg, Artist: His Life His Philosophy and His Work’, MA dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1970, p.234.

36. L. Ryken, J.C. Wilhoit & T. Longman III (eds), Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1998, p.442-443.

37. D. Williams, ‘The Eagle or the Cross: Rome, the Bible, and Cold War America’, PhD dissertation, University of California, San Diego, 1996, p.233.

38. Mahan, p.3.

39. Orrison, p.55.

40. ibid., p.55.

41. ibid, p.106.

42. ibid, p.103.

43. W.S. Owen, P.A. Grist & R. Dowling, A Dictionary of Bible Symbols, Grace Publications, London, 1992, p.28-29.

44. R.C. Broderick, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1976, p.143.

45. P. Fraser, Images of the Passion: The Sacramental Mode in Film, Praeger, Westport, CT, 1998, p.4.

46. D.J. Kennedy & J. Newcombe, What if the Bible Had Never Been Written?, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1998, p.6.

47. E. Bock, Moses: From the Mysteries of Egypt to the Judges of Israel, Inner Traditions International, New York, 1986, p.63-64.

48. M. Shapiro, The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of all Time, Simon & Schuster, London, 1994, p.6.

49. E.A. Livingstone (ed.), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1990, p.105.

50. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania/International Bible Students Association, Insight on the Scriptures. Volume 2: Jehovah - Zuzim, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York/International Bible Students Association, Brooklyn, NY, 1998, p.440.

51. N. Gabler, An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Crown, New York, 1988.

52. DeMille & Hayne, p.195.

53. M.J. Wright, ‘Dialogue or Dominance? Interfaith Encounter and Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments’, Discernment: An Ecumenical Journal of Inter-Religious Encounter, vol. 3, 1996, p.10-19; Wright, 2003.

54. B. Matthews (Trans.), The Herder Symbol Dictionary: Symbols from Art, Archaeology, Mythology, Literature, and Religion, Chiron, Wilmette, IL, 1990, p.93-94.

55. S. Stinchcum, Thou Shalt Not Miss: The Ten Commandments. 1997, p.2.

56. J. Gardner, ‘Covered Wagons and Decalogues: Paramount’s Myths of Origins’, The Yale Journal of Criticism, vol. 13, no. 2, 2000, p.383.

57. ibid, p.385.

58. Birchard, p.189.

59. D. Wallace, Lost Hollywood, LA Weekly Books, New York, 2001, p.20.

60. G. Vidal, Palimpsest: A Memoir, Andre Deutsch, London, 1995, p.303.

61. R.E. Long (ed.), George Cukor Interviews, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, 2001, p.27.

62. Wallace, p.29.

63. H. Wilcoxon. ‘The Biggest Man I’ve Ever Known’, in G. Essoe & R. Lee, DeMille: The Man and His Pictures, Castle Books, New York, 1970, p.276.

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