Western Animation: Joseph King Of Dreams
One of the most obscure of all the DreamWorks Animation
films, and Dreamworks' first Direct to Video release.
Meant to be the follow-up/prequel to The Prince of Egypt
, although it was made during
that film's production. Basically, imagine Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
, but in animation, and with Ben Affleck.
This film contains examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: Of the the tail end of Genesis. A number of characters are trimmed, Reuben (firstborn and previous leader of the brothers) has been Demoted to Extra, and the reason why Judah is also leading over Simeon and Levi, who were next in line after Reuben, is simply not mentioned; to put it mildly, this movie would have to have had a hard PG-13 rating at the very least if it had delved into the extremely family-unfriendly events that got them demoted.
- Adapted Out: Rachel is the only one of Jacob's four wives to appear, though it's a plot point that the other ten aren't biologically hers. Jacob's one daughter, Dinah, is also nowhere to be seen.
- Adult Fear: The movie is centered around the idea that your brothers can be jealous enough of you to sell you into slavery and lie about your fate to your parents. Joseph latter turns the tables on them by threatening to the same thing to Benjamin.
Joseph: But why? Why should you care if I lock him up, beat him, make him a slave?
- Ambiguous Fate: Zuleika. She isn't seen again after Joseph is sent to prison, and no one mentions her anymore (except Potiphar briefly, but he is cut short before he can finish his sentence). Did they divorce? Did she die? In a movie all about forgiveness (at least for the penitent, which she was in her last scene), was she ever forgiven by either Joseph or Potiphar? If not, it's somewhat disconcerting and inconsistent with the rest of the film, especially since she immediately acted to try and undo her wicked deeds once she felt remorse and pity for Joseph, unlike Joseph's brothers and Potiphar who were eventually forgiven nonetheless. This is possibly an example of Left Hanging.
- Ancient Egypt: Of course.
- Art Shift: The Pharaoh's dream, which transitions from traditional animation to CGI.
- Joseph's dreams too, which are in a living painting style (backgrounds at least) and the wall Joseph paints like his home of Caanan (which animates as he remembers it) as well as the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream.
- Artistic Age: The passage of time really does not apply here. Joseph fluctuates in how old he looks throughout the movie. He spends years in prison, and grows a full beard to match his age. But then when he goes clean-shaven he looks like a teenager again.
- Bishōnen: Joseph and Benjamin, who look more like Rachel than Jacob.
- Bittersweet Ending: Remember, the ending of this movie leads directly into The Prince of Egypt, which means that the Hebrew descendants of Joseph and his brothers will be enslaved by the Egyptians for decades.
- Blessed with Suck: Joseph's dreams, at first. They are a great honor from God...that do absolutely nothing beneficial other than distance him from his brothers and eventually get him sold into slavery. True to the original story, however, this trope is eventually averted.
- Book Ends: The eagle flying overhead at the very opening and ending of the film.
- Boy Meets Girl: Joseph and Asenath’s relationship—they first meet when Joseph is her uncle’s slave, and do some flirting. Their relationship (however unlikely, given the huge class gap) is smothered when Joseph is thrown in prison. They’re reunited when Joseph is made vizier, and soon marry.
- Clark Kenting: Subverted. When the brothers and Joseph meet again, Joseph is older, tanner, more muscular, wearing a beard, and definitely not in a position where you'd expect a guy sold into slavery to be. To add onto this, Joseph uses a different voice and manner when talking to them, and his outfit hides a lot of his features.
- Clear My Name: In keeping with the Bible story, Zuleika accuses Joseph of forcing himself on her, resulting in his time in prison.
- Cruel Mercy: After Potiphar understands that Joseph was telling the truth about his innocence, he revokes his earlier sentence of death... and bestows the sentence of indefinite imprisonment instead. A unique example in that Potiphar did not consider himself just in doing this, but did it to protect his wife's honor (at least to others besides himself), and by extension his own.
- Cursed with Awesome: Zigzagged with Joseph (who kept getting in trouble over his prophecies) and invoked by the baker as he's taken away: "It's not a gift, it's a curse!”
- Driven by Envy / Green-Eyed Monster: Joseph’s half-brothers, who resent his “miracle child” status and accompanying ego enough to debate killing him and eventually sell him into slavery.
- Does Not Wear Shoes: Until becoming Pharaoh's right-hand, Joseph is perpetually barefoot, quite possibly by choice, as the rest of his family wear sandals.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Even Evil Has Standards: Zuleika slanders Joseph out of spite when he refuses to comply with her advances, but realizes she went too far when Joseph was to be executed.
- False Rape Accusation: Zuleika invokes this trope when she doesn't get her way with Joseph.
- Fat and Skinny: In prison, the baker and royal butler, respectively.
- Fridge Brilliance at its finest. The fat one goes and the skinny one is left. This foreshadows the Pharaoh's dreams and eventual fate of Egypt.
- Femme Fatale: Zuleika, to some degree.
- Five Stages of Grief: When Joseph tells the baker that he will die in three days based on his dream, he shouts "You're lying!". He appears to have made it through the other stages in the three day fast-forward shouting "You knew!" as he's carried out.
- Forgiveness: A particularly striking example, as Joseph forgives Potiphar (which visibly surprises him) for throwing him in jail. And then again when he forgives his brothers albeit after showing how much they care for the new youngest.
- Happily Married: Joseph and Asenath.
- Jacob and Rachel, although Rachel is clearly frustrated at the unnecessary tension Jacob causes amongst his sons.
- Happiness in Slavery: Played with and kicked around a bit. Due to Zuleika's attraction to Joseph, he's given less physical labor while in slavery, and Joseph's intelligence and wit wins over the Pharaoh, but some of the times in between these events aren't so happy.
- The entire marketplace scene is dedicated to showing how being a slave sucks, complete with Joseph being terrified at the sight of whip marks on other slaves for sale and his being made over to look like a proper Egyptian slave as a violating and undignified act.
- "I Can't Look" Gesture: A form of this happens whenever Joseph pleads for help and is unjustly ignored.
- Ironic Echo: "Half-brother!”
- “My brothers will come for me!"
- When Joseph accuses Benjamin of theft he uses the same phrases that Potiphar used against him earlier.
- “You’re a busy man…anyone could make a mistake."
- Irony: Mainly in the form of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. By selling Joseph into slavery so that (among other things) they would never bow to him like his dream said they would, his brothers set themselves on the path to fulfilling (willfully) that same dream.
- In a small case of dramatic irony, when Joseph says no one cares he's in prison, we see Asenath going to sneak him some food immediately afterward.
- Little "No": Joseph says this when Zuleika tries to seduce him.
- Love Father, Love Son: Played With; depending on how the Bible is interpreted, Asenath might be Zuleika's daughter, playing this trope straight. In this movie, however, they're a niece and aunt.
- Made a Slave: Joseph, sold by his brothers to get him out of their hair.
- The Makeover: Joseph is washed, powdered, trimmed and painted to look more Egyptian.
- Meaningful Name: Pharaoh dubs Joseph 'Zaphnath-Paaneah', meaning 'The god speaks and he (He?) lives'.
- Misplaced Vegetation: Sunflowers in Canaan.
- Mood Whiplash: 2 years as a slave, 2 years in prison, to being made second only to the Pharaoh, then seeing your brothers, who sold you into slavery at the first place?
- My God, What Have I Done?: In a somewhat plausible interpolation of events from the original story, Zuleika starts to show some regret for framing Joseph and pleads to her husband to spare his life. It's also hinted that she may have pined away to an early grave from grief and guilt for what she did.
- The husband also greatly regrets imprisoning Joseph, and apologizes profusely when he's released. It's implied that the main reason he had him imprisoned was because he didn't want to acknowledge that his wife tried to seduce a slave, and regrets not doing the right thing.
- Never Say "Die": Or "rape," for that matter.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: While Joseph's brothers weren't down right villains, them being pushed over the edge by his dream of them bowing to him while he was on a pedestal is what eventually lead to their selling him into slavery. If it hadn't been for that action which several years down the road ended with Joseph being one of Egypt's rulers, they wouldn't have ended up indeed bowing to him when meeting him again as second only to Pharaoh.
- Non-Verbal Miscommunication: A subtle example during Zuleika's first scene. Between her Sexy Walk and her facial expression, she's clearly interested in Joseph. However, he either innocently mistakes her favorable words and visual cues as kindness/admiration for his hard work, or simply does not notice the flirting going on—and he smiles back in return. It's possible (this part isn't as clear) that she, in turn, mistook his smile as him returning her advances knowingly/favorably, especially since the way he smiled mirrored her own.
- Older Than They Look: Joseph looks to be about 14 (even though he was actually 17) until he starts getting stubble, and Judah and the other older brothers look the same 20-something when they sell Joseph as they do when he's born. Heck, Jacob, who looked to be in old age even when Joseph was born, seemed perfectly healthy by the end of the movie. Note that Joseph is in his thirties by that point.
- Outnumbered Sibling: Joseph is an interesting case, as the only one of Jacob’s sons born of Rachel. The other ten brothers are actually sons of three of Jacob’s wives, but all get lumped into one big category of “not-Rachel’s” as far as Jacob is concerned. Then, when Joseph disappears and Rachel has another son, Benjamin inherits this trope.
- Parental Favoritism: Not at all, not at all...
- What makes it all the worse is that much of it could have been avoided if Rachel and Jacob had taught Joseph just a little humility. At the end of Miracle Child, he's been convinced by his parents that he's perfect and destined to lead a charmed life free of any suffering whatsoever. It doesn't excuse what his brothers did, but still.
- And even worse: his brothers seem entirely happy to accept him into the family despite that attention given to him as the "miracle child". Just listen to what they sing at the start of the film in comparison to their father: "Our baby brother/ He is one of us, we'll keep him from harm/ And we will teach him all he needs to know/ We'll stand beside him and together/ We will show him what it means to be a family". Which is sweet and brotherly and exactly what you would expect. Then there's Jacob's lines: "He is special/ I will teach him all he needs to know/ He'll stand apart from other men". Granted, he's right, but note that the eldest brother even goes to hold his newborn brother and gets completely blanked by his father- and for the rest of the growing-up sequence Jacob keeps him away from his other brothers, which means that they never really get to know him and just builds up this resentment between them. Kind of an unintentional jerk, Jacob.
- Rachel at least seems to be aware of this, as evidenced by her taking Joseph aside to sing Bloom (using the sunflowers as a metaphor for how every living thing is precious). Unfortunately, it comes too late for him and his brothers to make amends before they sell him into slavery.
- There’s the favoritism Jacob shows towards Benjamin too, being normally unwilling to risk even potential harm coming to Benjamin (though this was more out of fear because of what he thought happened to Joseph—as well as from being the apparent last surviving child of Rachel, his late wife and love of his life).
- Rags to Royalty: More of a nice coat to rags, to better rags, to worse rags than before, to riches.
- Savage Wolves: Joseph dreams about a pack of wolves that attack his father’s flocks and kill the ram; the next day he encounters the wolves in reality.
- Later invoked by the other brothers as a cover story for Joseph’s disappearance.
- Sexy Walk: Zuleika, especially during her introductory scene with Joseph.
- She Will Come for Me: Joseph tells the Ishmaelite slavers who pull him out of the well, “My brothers will come for me!” Subverted, in that when his brothers do show up, it’s not to rescue him, but to collect their earnings from the slavers.
- Recurs later in the film as an Ironic Echo: a disguised Joseph, now the vizier of Egypt, imprisons Simeon, who defiantly calls out “my brothers will come for me!” when he spots the vizier and his wife outside his cell. It doesn't help endear Joseph to him.
- Shoot the Messenger: Applies figuratively to Joseph. First, he takes the brunt of his half-brothers resentment, though Jacob is the one who caused the resentment in the first place. Second, he gets sold to slavers for a dream/prophecy he unwillingly received from God.
- Sibling Rivalry: Joseph versus all his older brothers, especially Judah. Becomes an example of Cain and Abel once they sell Joseph to slavers (though unlike the Trope Namer, this story ends well).
- The Smart Guy: Joseph. He shows a lot of ingenuity throughout the movie, compared to other characters.
- Spiritual Successor: To The Prince of Egypt, although it's actually a prequel.
- Take Me Instead: The ten brothers make this plea when Joseph is going to have Benjamin Made a Slave. It’s a critical moment because it shows how they have changed since the time when they sold Joseph.
- Teen Genius: Genius compared to those around him; Joseph irrigates his family's field (a bit of a Chekhov's Skill as he does the same to the lands of Egypt) and makes a scarecrow for Potiphar's vineyard (single-handedly restoring it to fruitfulness).
- Time Skip: Sneaks in there a lot; the main part of the film takes place over 20 years with only an off-hand comment from Asenath and one from Simeon to tell of it.
- Waif Prophet: Book-learned and unused to the same work as his brothers, Joseph is a fairly squishy prophet until he is put to slave work.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Joseph wears his coat over a bare chest for the first part of the film and an Egyptian skirt thingy for much of the rest.
- For that matter his brothers only bother wearing shirts for the Egyptian scenes.
- Undying Loyalty: Joseph exhibits this when Zuleika tries to seduce him.
- Also, he probably knew that sleeping with his master's wife would get him into big trouble.
- Villainous Crush: Zuleika, for Joseph. Stalker with a Crush also applies, especially during one of the montage songs.
- Woman Scorned: Zuleika.
- Wonder Child: Joseph, born to the previously barren Rachel. He’s commonly referred to as a “miracle child” and there’s even a whole musical number oriented around it.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Zuleika claiming that Joseph tried to rape her.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Asenath tries to sneak in food to the imprisoned Joseph. Just as she's lowering it through the barred window, a guard sees her and she drops the package. It splatters on the floor...and then rats come to devour it.
- You Owe Me: Zuleika says this to Joseph in anger after her attempts to seduce/force her way with him fail.
"Everything you are, you owe to me!"
- Your Cheating Heart: Zuleika tries to seduce Joseph.