The Prince of Egypt: The Villain Song by the two priests (Playing with the big boys now...) didn't seem that amazing to me, it was more calling on their gods and doing some sleight of hand than anything particularly impressive happening. It might have just been that it was hard to make coolness contrast, given the soundtrack. Then I realized: This is a Bible story. These are priests calling on their gods in the face of a prophet. Of course it feels fake.
The blinding light in the "Playing With the Big Boys" sequence was the magicians way of switching their staffs with snakes.
Notably, according to The Bible (especially in the Tan'akh, the Hebrew version), along with EVERY commentary on those chapters, the Magicians at court were quite real. They were actually reproducing in smaller scale the plagues, until the Plage of Boils onwards. The Staff-Snake transformations, Blood, Frogs... according to the text, these were NOT ENOUGH to distinguish what God and Moses were doing from what the magicians supposedly already could do.
In "When You Believe", the phrase, "We were moving mountains long before we knew we could" is sung. What were the Hebrews doing at the beginning of the movie? Building the pyramids.
I'm not sure those were pyramids. I did see plenty of building construction, but no pyramids under construction. The Bible itself says they built, or refurbished (blame the Egyptian leaders for credit claiming) two cities.
Actually, they had moved on from building pyramids by the end of the Old Kingdom (which ended in about 2181BC according to The Other Wiki). However, Rameses II lived in the New Kingdom, over a thousand years later, when they had already moved on from pyramid-building.
While it might not be a direct reference to the pyramids, the Israelites were certainly involved in (and the Egyptians were still doing) building. And since building tended to involve cutting out massive blocks of stone from a quarry by the thousands, the Fridge Brilliance holds.
There are a few fridge moments during the "Playing with the Big Boys" song; the theme of the song is about a newcomer "playing with the big boys" and overstepping their bounds. Note all of Hotep and Huy's lyrics; they talk about bowing, putting up a front and how "every spell and gesture tells who's the best". But note that Moses never bows. He never wears fancy clothes, and his only gesture was loudly declaring his intentions and demands. It is the egyptians who's been bowing, putting up fronts and making wild, meaningless gestures at him. This is neatly lampshaded with the three snakes; the bigger one belongs to Moses, and it not only kills the other two snakes but also devours them. Hotep and Hoy's analogues were also playing with the "big boy" and were killed because of it.
Rameses is against anything that will make him look like "the weak link in the chain" because he wants to live up to his father's hopes, but his inability to bend and change was his downfall. In short, the kingdom fell, not because he was weak, but because he was strong.
Foreshadowed early on, when Moses laughs at the idea that Rameses would bring down Egypt sarcastically referring to "monuments crumbling, the Nile drying up". When the plagues hit, we see monuments crumbling under the hailstorms and the Nile, if not drying up, at least turning to blood. The things he thought were too ridiculous to ever happen did happen on Rameses watch.
I'd say rather because he valued strength far too much. He had neither the wisdom nor the confidence in himself to realize the strength that lies in gentleness and mercy.
More Fridge Brilliance: Why is God voiced by Moses' voice actor? The same reason God was represented by a burning bush. It was a form Moses was comfortable with. What is more comfortable and secure than the sound of your own voice?
Water seems to represent some connection with a home:
Moses is found by Queen Tuya in the moat and immediately adopts him into the family. Thus, Moses enters find another home.
Moses tricks Tzipporah into falling into the moat. The next scene? He helps her escape so she can return back home.
Moses accidentally falls into a well. He is then welcomed to join Tzipporah's home and (eventually) her family.
The famous parting the sea. God helped lead Moses and the Hebrews to a newer home.
When I re-watched the movie again I was curious on why Moses looked older than Rameses, despite being the youngest. Then, I realized it was because of their effect on one another's character. Without, Moses, Rameses didn't mature into a better person; so his growth was stunted. And without his older brother, Moses was able to grow up.
It could also be their difference in lifestyle. Rameses remained pampered at the palace, while Moses had to do physical work for a living out in the desert. In the hot sun, no less! Then again, hard work builds character, as they say, so Moses' time in the desert helped him age both physically and emotionally much farther from Rameses.
As a kid, I loved Miriam's spunk and detested Aaron's cowardice. Miriam is always willing to stand up for truth, justice, and freedom. Aaron is constantly apologizing, groveling, and allowing injustice without a fight. When I grew up, I wondered how is she still alive? Realistically, Miriam should have been beaten within an inch of her life and/or killed for her insolence years ago. Then I realized Aaron is always there making excuses and apologies for her (like when she first meets "Prince Moses") or holding her back (like when he keeps her from trying to stop the old man from getting flogged). While the other characters and narrative scorn Aaron for his groveling and cowardice, it's possible he HAD to become that way to keep his sister from getting herself killed. Suddenly I had a lot more respect for the guy.
Harsher in Hindsight: The movie ends with Moses walking down Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments in his hands. Anyone who's familiar with the story of Moses (or just watched The Ten Commandments) will know that, by this time, the Israelites have been worshiping the Golden Calf...
Or it could be the second time he came down, after the Israelites had been chastised for what they had done and held a greater reverence for God.
By "chastised" you mean slaughtered. If they are sticking as much as possible to the original story, the cutoff ending has some Unfortunate Implications....
A lot of what came after that sequence (yes, it was probably the second time after all the blasphemous revelry and outright revolt had been put down with extreme prejudice) would have been rather depressing to portray as well. Things did end well for Israel on the whole, but only after all the first generation's constant complainers died out, leaving their children to claim their promised inheritance. Getting to that Esoteric Happy Ending would have required at least another feature-length movie, so one can hardly blame the writers for having pared things down to just that one last snapshot from the long journey ahead of them before rolling the credits.
That sequence of young Miriam watching her brother endure all that crap in the Nile, looking terrified as hell? At first glance, we may be used to it, because we've seen terrified characters before...but think about it. This is a terrified young girl who is watching helplessly as her infant brother narrowly miss getting nommed by crocs and hippos, being knocked around by oars, then raised up onto a net before dropping back into the Nile.
Funny you should say that. Just going by the Biblical account, the Israelites were enslaved for multiple generations even if you don't count any time before Moses was born (Moses left Egypt at age 40, returned at age 80 in the Bible). I'd say Egypt was asking for trouble at that point.
Not to mention that even in the original story, it's a deliberate mirroring of the crimes of the Egyptians regarding the Hebrew firstborn.
The dying gasps. It's a bit of a Freeze-Frame Bonus, but when the Angel of Death passes, it sucks their soul out. The dying gasp refers to the Hebrew concept of the soul leaving with the breath. And it also provides a bit of a Pet the Dog moment for the Angel of Death, as the way it's killing the children is both gentle and painless.
At one point the angel enters a house to find a mother curled up with her two children in peaceful sleep. The angel engulfs the eldest child and then leaves within a second. The child's expression and position don't change at all, but you know, and you also know what kind of nightmare is waiting for the mother when she wakes up in the morning.
In the beginning of "All I Ever Wanted" Moses accidentally knocks over an old Hebrew man on the streets as he's running away from his sister. The man cringes in fear, as though he's expecting to be beaten.
Moses seems to be Rameses's emotional support or Morality Pet during their youth. Rameses says so later that Moses was always the one who got him out of trouble and made him feel better. Well it's very likely that Moses running away robbed Rameses of his only friend - thus turning him into the cynical tyrant he is years later.
Aaron's behavior early in the movie. As a kid? Kinda funny to see him acting like a complete doormat towards Prince Moses by first calling Miriam crazy from overwork and immediately adding "not that we mind the work, we quite enjoy it," and generally acting like a spineless coward. As an adult? You realize that this is the best way he knows to survive. Just look at the way he turns frantically to his work when the overseer starts beating the old man—he's seen things like this before and he can't do anything about it without getting himself and maybe his sister killed, so his only defense is to not watch.