It’s an annual sign of spring and a symbol of the most holy time of year for many Christians: the annual airing of The Ten Commandments. In 2015, ABC aired the cinematic classic on Easter evening; but this year, the network will air the film on Saturday night, March 26 from 7:00-11:44pm ET/PT.
The legendary Cecil B. DeMille film from 1956 tells the Biblical tale of Moses from his birth through leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, complete with the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea and Moses receipt of the holy tablets from God. And although the film depicts the holiday of Passover, it has become an Easter tradition for many families.
Starring Charlton Heston in the iconic role of Moses, the film from Paramount Pictures also stars legendary actors Yul Brynner as Rameses, Anne Baxter as Queen Nefretiri, Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, Yvonne de Carlo as Sephora, Vincent Price as Baka, Debra Paget as Lilia, John Derek as Joshua, and features Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Sethi, Nina Foch as Bithiah, Martha Scott as Yochabel, Judith Anderson as Memnet, among others.
The Ten Commandments was filmed on location in Egypt, Mount Sinai and the Sinai Peninsula, and was DeMille’s last and most successful work. It is a partial remake of his 1923 silent film of the same title, and features one of the largest sets ever created for a motion picture. At the time of its release on November 8, 1956, it was the most expensive film ever made.
In 1957, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, and Charlton Heston was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama) for his role as Moses. It is also one of the most financially successful films ever made, grossing approximately $122.7 million at the box office during its initial release — it was the most successful film of 1956 and the second-highest grossing film of the decade.
UP Hops Into Easter Week With Faith-Based Films
In addition to the 2006 TV miniseries version of The Ten Commandments, UP TV is airing a host of faith-based films during Easter week. The networks’s full list of movie showings is below.
- The Book of Esther (Sunday, March 20, 11am ET)
A powerful story of courage, faith and obedience. When Esther becomes King Xerxes’s queen, her cousin Mordecai and the despicable Haman engage in a dangerous game of intrigue. It’s no secret that Haman plans to exterminate the Jews. Can Esther convince her husband to spare her people – even though she may be putting her own life at risk? Starring Jen Lilley (Days of Our Lives, Youthful Daze), Thaao Penghlis (Days of Our Lives, Mission: Impossible), Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco, General Hospital) and Joel Smallbone (Taken, Like a Country Song).
- Mary, Mother of Jesus (Sunday, March 20, 1pm ET; Monday, March 21, 1 am ET; Friday, March 25, 5pm ET; Sunday, March 27, 1am ET)
This film depicts the extraordinary life of Jesus, from birth to crucifixion, as seen through the eyes of his mother Mary. Starring Christian Bale (The Big Short, American Hustle), Pernilla August (Star Wars: Episode One- The Phantom Menace, I Am Dina) and Geraldine Chaplin (Doctor Zhivago, Nashville).
- Jesus (Sunday, March 20, 3pm ET; Friday, March 25, 7pm ET)
A film about the extraordinary life and mission of Jesus. This biblical story reveals how during His relatively short life, Jesus grew from a simple carpenter to a man whose spiritual teachings and loving ways continue to inspire billions of followers more than 2000 years after his crucifixion. Starring Jeremy Sisto (Wicked City, Law & Order), Debra Messing (Will & Grace, The Mysteries of Laura), Gary Oldman (Sid & Nancy, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Jacqueline Bisset (The Detective, Bullitt).
- The Passion of the Christ (Sunday, March 20, 7pm & 9pm ET; Friday, March 25, 11pm ET; Saturday, March 26, 9pm ET). Shown with limited commercial interruption.
Academy Award winning director Mel Gibson (Braveheart, The Patriot) offers audiences breathtaking cinematography and the seamless performance of actor Jim Caviezel (The Prisoner, Person of Interest) in an uncompromising film depicting Jesus Christ’s profound courage and sacrifice. The Passion of The Christ dramatically captures the last 12 hours of Christ’s life on Earth, based on the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The film also stars Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Spectre) as Mary Magdalene.
- Judas (Sunday, March 20, 11pm ET; Saturday, March 26, 11pm ET)
The story of the friendship between Jesus and Judas that ended in ultimate betrayal. Starring Johnathon Schaech (That Thing You Do!, To Appomattox), Jonathan Scarfe (100 Days in the Jungle, White Lies) and Tim Matheson (The West Wing, Animal House).
- Courageous (Thursday, March 24, 9:30pm ET; Sunday, March 27, 4:30pm ET)
When a tragedy strikes close to home, four police officers struggle with their faith and their roles as husbands and fathers. Together, they make a decision that will change all of their lives. Starring Alex Kendrick (Fireproof, Facing the Giants), Ben Davies (New Hope, Closer to God: Jessica’s Journey), Ken Bevel (Fireproof), Kevin Downes (Hitting the Breaks, Faith of Our Fathers) and Robert Amaya (Moms’ Night Out, October Baby).
- Noah’s Ark (Saturday, March 26, 1am ET). UP Original Movie. Filmed in Morocco, Noah’s Ark is a dramatic, family-oriented retelling of the epic biblical story of Noah and The Ark. In the film, Noah, a farmer and family man, is instructed by an angel to build an ark in the middle of a desert in order to save both his family and the faithful from a devastating flood – a seemingly impossible task, particularly when his four sons refuse to believe him or help. It’s only his loving, yet exasperated, wife Emmie, who stands by her husband’s side. Starring David Threlfall (Shameless, Nowhere Boy) as Noah and Joanne Whalley (Wolf Hall, A.D. The Bible Continues) as Emmie.
- The Ten Commandments (Saturday, March 26, 12:30pm ET)
The story of Moses, who against impossible odds, lead the Jews out of Egyptian slavery into perilous freedom. Starring Omar Shariff (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago), Dougray Scott (Hemlock Grove, My Week with Marilyn) and Paul Rhys (The Assets, TURN: Washington’s Spies). This is the 2006 TV miniseries, not the 1956 movie by Cecil B. DeMille
- The Greatest Story Ever Told (Saturday, March 26, 4:30pm ET)
George Stevens’ epic production is a retelling of the story of Jesus Christ from the Nativity through the Resurrection. This film was nominated for five Academy Awards™ and features a star-studded cast including Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens), Dorothy McGuire (Rich Man, Poor Man, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Robert Loggia (Big, The Sopranos) and Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes).
- Abel’s Field (Sunday, March 27, 10am ET)
Seth is a hard working teen saddled with the responsibility of taking care of his young twin sisters. Pegged by the athletic high school stars as a loser, he is bullied daily and can see no way out of his difficult situation. When he finds himself thrown together with the mysterious school grounds keeper, Abel, he finds exactly what he’s been needing– a friend. But when Abel’s past threatens to catch up with him, and Seth’s future becomes threatened, they must learn to rely on each other and have faith that God will lead them both home. Starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, The O.C.), Samuel Davis (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Cabin Fever) and Richard Dillard (The Last Stand, Dazed and Confused).
- Heaven is Waiting (Sunday, March 27, 12pm ET)
It has been years since Ned Stevens lost his wife Kate to cancer, but he still can’t let go of her memory. But when his daughter Liz brings home a new boyfriend from college, Ned finds that his comfortable world is turned upside down. Now Liz is out to find a new love for her dad, and an attractive single neighbor may just be the thing he needs. Starring Curt Doussett (Saints and Soldiers, Midway to Heaven), Kirby Heyborne (Saints and Soldiers, The Three Stooges) and Brittany Peltier (A Special Day, Midway to Heaven).
- Fireproof (Sunday, March 27, 2 p.m. EDT)
The marriage of Caleb and Catherine Holt is in crisis, and they decide to divorce. However, Caleb’s father, John, proposes that his son delay their separation process for 40 days and follow a procedure called “The Love Dare” to make them love each other again. Starring Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains, The Best of Times) and Erin Bethea (The Redemption of Henry Myers, Letters to God).
- Grace Unplugged (Sunday, March 27, 7pm and 9pm ET; Monday, March 28, 1am ET). UP Cable Premiere.
Grace Trey is a phenomenal singer and the ideal Christian teen. But at the tender age of 18, after she gets the music break of a lifetime and is thrust into the “real world,” her faith is put to the test. Starring AJ Michalka (The Goldbergs), James Denton (Good Witch, Desperate Housewives), Kevin Pollak (Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Mom) and Shawnee Smith (Anger Management, Becker).
- Heart of the Country (Sunday, March 27, 11pm ET)
With her husband jailed for Wall Street fraud, Faith leaves her life of luxury behind to return to rural North Carolina and the father and sister she left behind. This film parallels the famous parable The Prodigal Son. Starring actress and country singer Jana Kramer (One Tree Hill, 90210), Gerald McRaney (House of Cards, Simon & Simon) and Randy Wayne (The Lying Game, YouTube: The Musical).
The Ten Commandments image © PARAMOUNT. All rights reserved.
Noah’s Ark image © UP TV. All rights reserved.