The Prince of Egypt

“You who I called brother. How could you have come to hate me so? Is this what you wanted? Then let my heart be hardened and never mind how high the cost may grow. This will still be so. I will never let your people go.” – Pharaoh Ramesses II

An ambitious account of the life of Moses and the great Exodus. The Prince of Egypt was DreamWorks first full-length animated film and while based on the biblical story, the film does take many dramatic liberties. However, it still stays true to the book of Exodus. The filmmakers actually place a disclaimer up front which points the viewers to the Bible to find out what actually happened (which impressed me).

The film starts in the middle of the persecution of the Hebrew people by the King of Egypt. He has ordered the execution of the first born male child of all the Hebrew people. The Pharaoh was afraid that if the male numbers grew, one day they the slaves would have enough men to overpower him and flee for freedom.

Jochebed, a Hebrew woman is afraid for her new baby boy. With her daughter Miriam she sets her son afloat inside a whicker basket in the Nile river in hopes for a better life – free from the slaughter that would find him if he were to stay.

Miriam follows the basket until it arrives at of all places the palace of the King and Queen of Egypt. The Queen finds the baby and names him Moses. She adopts him as her own. The film cuts to twenty years later and we see Moses and his adopted brother Rameses playing and causing trouble. They are the Prices of Egypt and are having a grand time. One night, Moses runs into his slave sister Miriam. She confronts Moses and tells him that he is her brother. He is upset and angry at such an accusation, until she starts to sing a lullaby that he remembers.

Moses runs away in search for answers. The Pharaoh, tells Moses it’s the truth, but that matters not because he a Prince of Egypt now. He says not to feel upset, they were only Hebrew children that were killed. Moses is taken back at the callousness in his father’s voice.

This eventually leads to Moses running away and fleeing Egypt into the desert. Here is here’s the voice of God in the Burning Bush telling him to return to Egypt and free the slaves and lead them to freedom. When Moses does finally return to confront the king, he realizes the new Pharaoh is his brother Rameses!

The filmmakers had daunting task ahead of them when they set out to make this film. The story is cherished by billions of people. Christians, Jews and Muslims all hold this story is sacred. It was banned in several Arab countries and caused a lot of controversy at the time of it’s release. The film was all most universally praised but it still contains several very dark themes. The murder of children for instance is confronted head on in the film.

The story of Moses and the great Exodus comes alive in this animated film. It’s very close to a musical, but I don’t think it’s actually classified as one. The music in the film is remarkable is probably my favorite soundtrack of all time. This is a powerful and uplifting story that will show you how miracles can happen if you believe. The scenes of Moses parting the Red Sea are worth the price of admission alone.

Cast

  • Val Kilmer as Moses
  • Ralph Fiennes as Ramesses II
  • Patrick Stewart as Pharaoh Seti I
  • Michelle Pfeiffer as Zipporah
  • Helen Mirrem as Queen Tuya
  • Jeff Goldblum as Aaron
  • Sandra Bullock as Miriam
  • Danny Glover as Jethro
  • Steve Martin as Hotep
  • Martin Short as Huy
  • Ofra Haza as Yocheved

The cast is incredible. You can see from the names above, this is nothing but top notch talent. Jeff Goldbulm was great as Aaron, the brother of Moses. Val Kilmer, the voice of Moses was also the voice used for God. He was extremely reverent and there is nothing sacrilegious at all about his portal. Steve Martin and Martin Short steal many scenes in the film as the two head priests for the Pharaoh.

Ratings and Suggestions

The Prince of Egypt is rated PG for intense depiction of thematic elements. I would recommend this film for the whole family. Even with the darker themes in the movie, it’s nothing graphic and should not stop you from showing your younger children the movie. I strong recommend the film however to adults who want a fresh (or new even) perspective on the story. This is one amazing film, which I happy give four out of four stars.

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