Exploring Sacred and Secular Serpent Symbolism in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956)


  • Anton Karl Kozlovic Flinders University




Cecil B. DeMille, The Ten Commandments (1956), serpent symbolism, biblical epics, religion-and-film


Cecil B. DeMille was an unsung auteur and master of the American biblical epic whose feature films were eagerly awaited by the paying public and filled Paramount’s purse. And yet, he was routinely ignored, dismissed or devalued by critics unappreciative of the enormous artistry deliberately engineered therein, especially his penchant for serpent symbolism. This particular omission is in need of belated attention. Consequently, using humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens, this essay selectively reviews the critical DeMille, film and religion literature, locates DeMille’s place and reputation in Hollywood history, explores The Ten Commandments (1956), and explicates numerous exemplars of his trademark serpent signature under five heuristic headings. The essay concludes that DeMille was a far more insightful and accomplished biblical filmmaker than has been previously appreciated.


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How to Cite

Kozlovic, A. K. (2014). Exploring Sacred and Secular Serpent Symbolism in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956). Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 7(2), 149–169. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v7i2.149