Ossus Library Index Animated Movie Index

PRINCE OF EGYPT

Directed by Brenda Chapman & Steve Hickner (1998, Dreamworks)
Featuring voices by Val Kilmer, Sandra Bullock, Patrick Stewart, Jeff Goldblum, and Ralph Fiennes

Moses grows up as an Egyptian, only to realize he is Hebrew, and that his people are being used as slaves.

 

 

5 stars

July 20th, 2013 on Video for the 3rd time

 
    I should probably see this on blu-ray, because the video has seriously degraded in visual quality! As mentioned below, the movie has several slow parts. I also found that many of the songs were not necessary, and maybe were just put there because that's what Disney was doing at the time. The battle of the staff-snakes was not really necessary, either. However, as also mentioned below, the entire movie is well worth watching just for the ending. I don't think there was a single line of dialog in the last ten minutes of the movie. The song was haunting, and the visuals, degraded as they were on VHS, were absolutely stunning -and yes, haunting. Really, really worth watching for.  

 

5 stars

January 7th, 2000 on Video for the 2nd time

 
    Going into this movie, I began to wonder what I saw in it the first time around.  The visuals were neat, and the characters were kind of fun, but it was quite slow.  It seemed to take a long time to establish Moses as Ramses' friend, then to let him discover that he was a Hebrew.  I love the cart race at the beginning, though.  That was a lot of fun!

Fortunately, it picked up the pace soon enough.  As soon as Moses leaves Egypt, the movie is nothing but powerful and beautiful.  Meeting his future wife while stranded in a well  is a treat, and then the song around the fire was great.  I was at a Jewish wedding recently, and we danced just like that.  The music in that scene was great.  And it had me exhausted just as I was at the wedding!  Slow pace as Moses doubts himself, speeding up as he finds his way into the community, and finally a dizzying pitch as it culminates in the wedding.

Of course, Moses then meets the burning bush, and is sent back to Egypt to confront the Pharaoh about setting the Hebrew people free.  I thought the voice of God should have been better chosen.  The visuals and the words were fine, but the voice seemed off to me. 

Of course, Ramses refuses to set the slaves free.  So Moses tries to convince him, first by turning his staff into a snake, and then turning the sea to red.  Ra's magicians reproduce those feats, so nobody is particularly impressed.  But then come the days of plague, famine, and pestilence.  Wow!  Those were spectacularly done!  The visuals were incredible, and the song very powerful.

Finally, the most haunting passage of the film is Passover.  As the spirits literally take the breath out of the firstborn child of every Egyptian family, it took my breath away.  And so Ramses finally yields.  And we come to the next most haunting passage: the Hebrews leaving the walls of the Egyptian city.  It goes from harrowing, as if they were in shock, to joy, as the learn that they are actually going to be free, and then to euphoria as they realize that they ARE free.  The song that accompanies this forms the mood perfectly. 

Then they come to the red sea.  And it turns out that Ramses has sent his army out, either to retrieve his slaves, or to slaughter them, we are not sure.  Either way, God is not about to let that happen.  A spectacular wall of fire prevents the army from approaching, as Moses parts the Sea!  That effect is as good as, or better than, the one in The Ten Commandments.  It is certainly a rival.  It is one of the best effects of the movie. 

Of course, Moses and his people make it, and it ends on a happy note, which is ironically the moment Moses gazes down on his people, while holding the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them.  Just before he realizes they have began to worship pagan gods.  But that would be another story.  This one gets to end happily. 

The visuals were spectacular, the songs were great.  This one is worthy of Disney!  I can forgive a slow start, when the rest of the movie is of such high caliber.  Sure, there were creative liberties taken, but I don't know the story well enough to point out any real errors.  And I'll leave it at that.

 

 

5 stars

December 22nd, 1998 in the Theatre

 
    This was such a powerful movie, that we have to go see it again.  We're almost certain to buy the soundtrack very soon, and the video when it comes out.  I guess it helped that the producers had a powerful story to begin with!  Makes me want to watch The Ten Commandments.  
   

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