The “Deep Focus Construction” of Selected Characters within Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1923 & 1956) and Elsewhere

Open access

Abstract

Legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille was a progenitor of Paramount Pictures, a seminal cofounder of Hollywood, and the master of the American biblical epic; but whose pioneering achievements and filmic practices still remain grossly unappreciated today. One of his aesthetic trade secrets was the “deep focus construction” of his on-screen characters, that is, the engineering of pertinent correspondences between his characterizations and the actors’ idiosyncratic traits and/or previous roles to deepen the naturalistic resonance of authenticity. A brief review of the critical literature and an examination of selected DeMille films, particularly The Ten Commandments (1923 & 1956), was performed to illustrate this casting principle; utilizing humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens. It was concluded that DeMille was a far defter biblical filmmaker than hitherto appreciated. Further research into DeMille Studies is highly warranted, warmly recommended and already long overdue

Keywords

Cecil B. DeMille, casting principle in film, the Golden Age of Hollywood, “deep focus construction” of characters

Keywords:

References

  • Baron, Cynthia and Sharon Marie Carnicke. 2008. Reframing Screen Performance. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

  • Barsam, Richard M. and Dave Monahan. 2010. Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film, 3rd ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

  • Bazin, André. 1982. The Cinema of Cruelty from Bunuel to Hitchcock. New York: Seaver Books.

  • Beck, Bernard. 2005. Has Anybody Here Seen my Old Friend Jesus?: Christian Movies in a Christian Country. Multicultural Perspectives vol. 7 no. 1: 26-29.

  • Bellevie, Lesa. 2005. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mary Magdalene. New York: Alpha.

  • Bernheimer, Kathryn. 1998. The 50 Greatest Jewish Movies: A Critic’s Ranking of the Very Best. Secaucus, NJ: Birch Lane Press.

  • Birchard, Robert S. 2004. Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

  • Bona, Damien. 1996. Starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press.

  • Bowers, Ronald. 1982. Male and Female. In Magill’s Survey of Cinema. Silent Films. Volume 2, ed. Frank N. Magill, 689-692. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press.

  • Bywater, Tim and Thomas Sobchack. 1989. An Introduction to Film Criticism: Major Critical Approaches to Narrative Film. New York: Longman.

  • Cherchi Usai, Paolo and Lorenzo Codelli, eds. 1991. The DeMille Legacy. Pordenone: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto/Edizioni Biblioteca dell’Immagine.

  • Clapham, Walter C. 1974. The Movie Treasury. Western Movies: The Story of the West on Screen. London: Octopus Books.

  • Cody, Iron Eyes and Collin Perry. 1982. Iron Eyes: My Life as a Hollywood Indian. London: Frederick Muller.

  • DeMille, Cecil B. and Donald Hayne, ed. 1960. The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille. London: W. H. Allen.

  • Donnelley, Paul. 2010. Fade to Black: A Book of Film Obituaries. London: Omnibus Press.

  • Druxman, Michael B. 1975. Make it Again, Sam: A Survey of Movie Remakes. South Brunswick: A. S. Barnes.

  • Edwards, Anne. 1988. The DeMilles: An American family. London: Collins.

  • Essoe, Gabe and Raymond Lee. 1970. DeMille: The Man and His Pictures. New York: Castle Books.

Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies

The Journal of "Sapientia" Hungarian University of Transylvania

Journal Information

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 29 29 19
PDF Downloads 4 4 2