Cecil B. DeMille

(Lived: 1881-1959)

The Hollywood film-maker Cecil B. DeMille was a major figure in the American movie industry. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the organisation behind ‘the Oscars'). But DeMille was also the master of the biblical epic.

His 1956 film The Ten Commandments was billed as ‘The Greatest Event in Motion Picture History'. With its all-star cast, extravagant sets, ground breaking special effects and thousands of extras, it was hugely expensive to produce. The film retold the biblical story of the Exodus and cast Charlton Heston in the lead role as Moses.

The Ten Commandments was a huge hit at the box-office, raking in $43 million in the USA alone. As such, it's considered by film scholars to be the world's first ‘blockbuster' movie. Despite the film's commercial success, DeMille's reason for making it was also a religious one. It was intended to promote the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20.1-17). At the film's opening in New York, he said:

"What I hope for our production of The Ten Commandments is that those who see it shall come from the theater not only entertained and filled with the sight of a big spectacle, but filled with the spirit of truth. That it will bring to its audience a better understanding of the real meaning of this pattern of life that God has set down for us to follow."

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