Moses the Lawgiver

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Moses the Lawgiver
Directed byGianfranco De Bosio
Produced by
Written by
Music byEnnio Morricone
CinematographyMarcello Gatti
Edited by
Distributed byITC/RAI
Release date
  • 22 December 1974 (1974-12-22) (Italy)
Running time
Original: 360 min
Theatrical version: 141 min
CountryUnited Kingdom/Italy
Budget$5 million[1]

Moses the Lawgiver, transmitted in 1973 and 1974, is a 6-hour Italian / British television miniseries which starred Burt Lancaster as Moses. It was an ITC/RAI co-production, filmed in Rome and on location in Israel and Morocco.

Many of the writers, cast members, and crew members of Moses the Lawgiver contributed to another Biblical coproduction by ITC/RAI--the ambitious miniseries Jesus of Nazareth, which was transmitted three years later, in 1977.

Plot summary[edit]

The Story of the Exodus or freedom of Hebrews from Egypt is told in a perspective which highlights Moses' efforts to persuade first the stubborn Pharaoh Merneptah, who was his adopted cousin, to release his work force of slaves. Then, once free and in the wilderness en route to the Promised Land, Moses must prove to be a pious and patient leader or lawgiver to a people who still think they want more out of him or God. For 40 years, Moses (Burt Lancaster) must carry on this load and challenge for God and Israel.

With the help of his brother Aaron (Anthony Quayle), and Joshua (Aharon Ipale), the nation or people of Israel are officially born or created after centuries ago God promised and vowed Jacob/Israel that he would be the father of a mighty nation.



As Charlton Heston's son Fraser acted out the infant Moses in the 1956 Hollywood production of The Ten Commandments, so Burt Lancaster's son Bill, credited as William Lancaster, acted out the role of Moses as a young man in Moses the Lawgiver.

The Italian government suggested to the series' producer, Lew Grade, that he should meet Pope Paul VI, and subsequently did so at his wife's insistence. Grade and his wife Kathie had a private audience with Paul who told them of his pleasure at the film and offered his endorsement to be used for publicity purposes. Paul suggested to Grade that his next film should be called 'In the footsteps of Jesus', the Pope's suggestion developed into the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth.[2]


"Moses Theme" composed by Ennio Morricone; original music performed by Gianna Spagnolo and Coro e Orchestra dell'Unione Musicisti Romani.


In 1975, a tie-in book, written by Australian author Thomas Keneally,[3] was published by Harper & Row.

Theatrical and DVD releases[edit]

The 360-minute-long mini-series was later edited into a 141-minute version for theatrical release under the same name.[4] In 2004, this shortened version was released as a one-disc DVD. A 300-minute version (two-disc set) was released in 2012 for Latin America (but not dubbed into Spanish and compatible in both Regions 1 & 4); it was packaged (somewhat deceptively) as Moises y los 10 Mandamientos-Extended Version.

Contrary to the above-mentioned information, the 300-minute version may in fact be the complete version. This was aired as (6) one-hour episodes on television originally. Subtracting for commercials, the average running time for a 60-minute TV program in the mid 1970s was around 50 minutes; 25 minutes for a 30-minute program. This would make 300 minutes the proper uncut running time, since (6) 50-minute episodes equals 300 minutes. There is no source available claiming that the (6) hour-long TV episodes ran commercial-free, which would be the only way the total running time could be 360 minutes, as claimed in the first paragraph. In addition, Shout Factory TV has the 6 episodes available and they all run 50 minutes plus a few seconds each.

The miniseries is being released on Region 1 DVD by S'More Entertainment in the US on May 14th, 2019. It will be 2-discs with a total running time of 300-minutes, which does seem to be the complete version.


  1. ^ 'MOSES THE LAWGIVER:' can Moses compete with guns and cops? Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 June 1975: p1.
  2. ^ Chester 2010, p. 186.
  3. ^ Moses the Lawgiver (1975), Harper & Row Publishers
  4. ^ "Moses the Lawgiver". Internet Movie DataBase. Retrieved 9 January 2010.

External links[edit]