A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Ten Commandments is a 2007 animated retelling of the biblical story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt as led by Moses. Co-director Bill Boyce was an editor and animator on VeggieTales projects, and this is accordingly aimed at younger audiences. Magical miracles, including ten plagues, staffs writhing into snakes, and the parting of the Red Sea, may appeal to younger viewers, but parents should be aware of references to Pharaoh's command to kill Jewish babies and Jehovah's equally harsh punishment: the death of Egyptian firstborns. The commandments themselves are recited, and there are many references to God and the need for belief. As with the VeggieTales movies, how parents respond to religious content will no doubt determine whether or not they encourage their kids to see this. Note that apart from the talk about God, decency and goodness are pitted against intolerance and villainy in a way that can be appreciated by the religious and nonreligious alike.
What's the story?
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS simplifies the biblical Exodus story, introducing Moses as the baby of a Jewish woman who is condemned to death by Pharaoh but saved by his clever mother. She hides him in a basket and sets him afloat. Pharaoh's daughter finds him and raises him in the palace as her own, as a cousin to the future Pharaoh, Ramses (Alfred Molina). Ramses casts Moses out at first opportunity. God picks Moses to take his people, enslaved by Pharaoh, out of Egypt. When Pharaoh says no, God unleashes plagues. All Egyptian water turns to blood. Hail falls. Locusts eat the crops, frogs rain from the sky. None of these blights achieve the desired effect, so God kills every Egyptian firstborn. Pharaoh then releases the Jews, but quickly changes his mind, sending his army after them. God gives Moses the power to part the Red Sea, allowing the Jews to cross. He then closes the sea and drowns the Egyptian army as it gains on the escaped slaves. Despite these many great favors God does the Jews, they remain ornery, selfish, and ungrateful, forcing God to punish that generation of slaves by never allowing them to enter the Promised Land, consigning them to roam the desert for 40 years until a new, less-complaining generation emerges to enjoy God's generosity. Moses dies, too, leaving Joshua to lead the Jews to Canaan.
Is it any good?
Bible stories are always popular, and this one is nicely and simply told. The Ten Commandments touches on all the basics of the Exodus story with appealing animation, but given that kids are the target audience and are highly likely to have many questions, it seems a wasted opportunity that the film doesn't bother to address obvious holes in the well-known story. Parents can expect to field such inquiries: Pharaoh's daughter found the baby Moses and raised him. How? Did no one notice she hadn't been pregnant? Would a leader who hates his slaves allow the baby Moses to be raised in the palace as a prince? Did anyone notice the abandoned baby showed up just when Jewish babies were being exterminated? And why did God select such a whiny, selfish, and unbelieving bunch to be his Chosen People? What did he see in them?
The Exodus story is from the Torah, or first five books of the Bible (aka The Old Testament), a seminal work at the foundation of Judaism, but also a preliminary part of Christian doctrine. A Christian slant to this movie is suggested by the fact that the Jews here are depicted with blue eyes, as if to match with Eurocentric medieval and Renaissance representations of a blue-eyed, blond Jesus. Given the Middle Eastern origins of Judaism and Christianity, scholars posit it is likely everyone involved in biblical stories had olive skin and brown eyes, something inquisitive kids may ask about, too. At least decency and goodness are pitted against intolerance and villainy in a way that can be appreciated by the religious and nonreligious alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Moses was selected by God to gain the Jews' freedom and lead them out of Egypt. What qualities do you think Moses had that made him a good choice?
The story comes from the biblical Exodus story and has many spectacular elements. Do you think Bible stories are true? Why or why not?
How does this compare to other movies or shows you've seen about Moses?
- In theaters: October 19, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: February 5, 2008
- Cast: Christian Slater, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Elliott Gould
- Directors: Bill Boyce, John Stronach
- Studio: Genius Products
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for some mild peril
- Last updated: February 04, 2020
For kids who love biblical tales
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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