Printable Film Critique Assignment: Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments


As a current thirty-something, I grew up with the yearly tradition of watching Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments on TV. It has everything – adventure, romance, questionable hairstyles (I’m looking at you, Yul Brynner) – so, imagine my surprise when I was fresh out of college and teaching Scripture and realized most high school students, at least the ones whom I’ve encountered, have never seen this epic in its entirety. Now, almost a decade into a career in education, this is still my experience. Instead, many of them have seen Prince of Egypt, which is another story altogether.

It was in such a fit of DeMille enthusiasm, that I came up with this film critique assignment because, let’s face it, it’s a great film that everyone should try to make an effort to see, but it is not exactly identical to what we come across in the Old Testament. I saw this as an interdisciplinary opportunity for my students to watch critically, compare/contrast, practice active note-taking skills, and hone their writing skills. Plus, from my observation, adolescents just love the high-tech, mid-1950s special effects!

I used this assignment with high school sophomores, however it really could work well for middle school and up.

In honor of the start of Passover, you’ll find a PDF of the assignment below.


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