Making 'The Ten Commandments'
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer
- Can you recite the Ten Commandments? A recent survey found that most Americans can not.
In fact, when asked in the survey, participants named the ingredients of a Big Mac, the signature cheeseburger sold by McDonald’s restaurants, and family members from the fictional television series “The Brady Bunch,” more accurately than the Ten Commandments.
The survey was commissioned by The Ten Commandments Commission, an organization devoted to defending and maintaining Judeo-Christian moral traditions in society. It was conducted in conjunction with the upcoming release of the animated film, The Ten Commandments, from Promenade Pictures.
Cindy Bonds, the film’s producer and president of Promenade Pictures, says there could not be a better time for the launch of the new film. Working in the film industry for many years, she says she has been alarmed to watch how society’s values have been eroded.
“I think that the idea that people know the Big Mac and the Brady Bunch more than they know the Ten Commandments speaks to how bad a shape we are in as a nation” Cindy says. “I think it shows that our priorities are completely out of whack.”
She says she hopes that this film, as well as the 11 other movies based on biblical events that the company plans to produce, will be a step toward changing that.
A Film is Born
When she was first pitched the idea of doing an animated version of the story of Moses and The Ten Commandments, she loved the idea but did not pursue it because she had no experience working on animated films. Not long after that, she met Ed Naha, writer of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and she knew that she had found the perfect person to write the film’s script.
Naha resonated with the script right away, Bond says.
“I’ll never forget, his eyes just lit up like a Christmas tree and his brain just started going a million miles an hour, which is usual now that I know him,” Bond says, “And he just started coming up with these wonderful ideas.”
When he returned with the first draft of the script, Bond says she was “spellbound.”
“I knew that we had something incredibly special that we were blessed with in this movie,” she says.
The producer says the story of Moses resonates with her because he was an ordinary man who had an extraordinary calling on his life. As a Christian working in Hollywood, she too feels that she has been called by God to her role in the film industry.
“My journey into Hollywood has been led by a calling on my life to use the most powerful medium in the world to impact the hearts and minds of everyone around the world,” Bond says, “to better the world, specifically, to be a seed planter for Godly types of initiatives.”
She founded Promenade Pictures with the goal of producing films that will appeal to families and people of faith. Her company handles all aspects of the film themselves, from the financing to the distribution, so they will not be forced to compromise the film’s content.
Naha shares her passion for developing family entertainment and says that is what guided him as he wrote the script for the film.
“Once I got in my head that Moses had a family,” Naha says, “that he had his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam, once I envisioned them as a familial unit, they just came to life.”
But because it is a family film, he says he also struggled with decisions like what battle scenes to include and when or if it was okay to show blood.
Bond says as the film began to come together God brought together a group of talented actors to voice the characters. Ben Kingsley is the film’s narrator, Elliott Gould portrays the voice of God, Christian Slater stars as Moses, and Alfred Molina portrays the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses.
Gould says he accepted the role because he felt the project was important.
“I’m a father and a grandfather,” Gould says, “and I’m older now and recognize my own mortality and have acquired some degree of perspective and focus in my existence, and I believe it’s so significant.”
And for him, the role was somewhat different that most of the characters he normally portrays in films.
“It’s a great responsibility in relation to history, and tradition, and the faith of so many people, to bring one’s voice to something as significant as that which God represents in this story and beyond,” Gould says. “So it was a very humbling and important opportunity for me, and I’m very grateful for that.”
Not just for kids
Though the film is animated, Bond says it isn’t just for kids. The film’s spiritual themes will appeal to adults as well.
“This is not by any means a sermon on Sunday,” Bond says, “but within an entertaining context, it is like a 10-course meal whereby the spiritual depth of this movie is quite profound.”
The film not only shows that when God calls us to do something, He will equip us to do it like he did for Moses, she says, but it also shows the enormous amount of patience that God demonstrates toward His children.
Unlike other movies, like The Prince of Egypt, that focus mostly on Moses and his leadership of the Israelites out of Egypt, The Ten Commandments follows Moses and the Israelites all the way to the Promised Land.
Bond says she has always been a fan of epic films, like Cecil B. Demille's The Ten Commandments, and she is excited to produce other epic tales as animated films. The company has planned 12 movies in all for their series “epic stories of the Bible.”
The next film in the series, Noah’s Ark: The New Beginning, is already partially completed. Following that, the company plans to release David & Goliath.
A Call to Action
Bond says the company chose to release The Ten Commandments first because it was probably the most well-known Bible story as well as one of the most important.
“We thought that this was the one to launch the series because the Ten Commandments are the entire backbone of the reason this nation was started,” Bond says, “and it is critically important for the Ten Commandments to be brought back into society, which is why I applaud the efforts and all the hard work of Dr. Ron Wexler and the Ten Commandments Commission because this is the foundation for who we are as a nation.”
She hopes that both the survey results from the Ten Commandments Commission as well as the film will make people re-evaluate their priorities.
“I think this whole survey we did was to bring this out to the light to make people aware of how I think we’ve had a fog over us, and it’s time for everyone to wake up. I think it’s time for a call to action here,” Bond says.
Wexler says he couldn’t agree more.
“We live in a time in history that’s pivotal for all of us to understand that what we need to do is to restore the supremacy of the tenant that God has given us through the Ten Commandments,” Wexler says. “After all, it’s the only document in the Bible written by the hand of God.”
“Actually there’s another one,” he adds, “it was the one written on the wall, and we know what happened to that empire, so we don’t want to be the next.”
His organization has lobbied on behalf of a resolution that will be voted on in the House of Representatives in November, House Resolution 598, declaring that the first Sunday in May be known as “Ten Commandments Sunday.” To add your name to his online petition in support of the legislation, visit www.tencommandmentsday.com.
The Ten Commandments opens in theaters Oct. 19.
Learn more about the movie, watch the trailer, find theater locations, and purchase group tickets at www.10CommadmentsMovie.com.
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