"The story of two men. One born to rule, the other destined to lead."
"Deliver us, hear our call, Deliver us, Lord of all, Remember us, here in this burning sand. Deliver us, there's a land you promised us. Deliver us to the promised land..."
The Prince of Egypt is a 1998 animated film based on the biblical book of Exodus, as well as the very first 2D animated film made by DreamWorks Animation. Until The Simpsons Movie came out in 2007, it was the highest-grossing traditionally animated non-Disney film of all time.The film covers part of the life of Moses, from his being found and adopted by Pharaoh's family to his young adulthood, where he discovers his Hebrew heritage, to his adult life, when God tells Moses to confront the current Pharaoh and persuade him to free the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.The Prince of Egypt admits up front in a disclaimer that it takes liberties with the original story, but is nonetheless one of the more accurate retellings in cinema. The film has an All-Star Cast to voice its characters, including several of the smaller roles, and featured numerous musical numbers throughout. The film won considerable acclaim in its time, and even got an Oscar for one of those songs.Has a character sheet currently in progress.Compare The Ten Commandments.
Provides Examples Of:
Adaptational Angst Upgrade: For Moses. As he was happily raised as a member of Pharaoh's household in this version, the plagues see him destroy the home and family he loved.
Adaptation Expansion: In the book of Exodus, everything from Moses' birth to his exile and marriage is covered in a single chapter, which in a printed book would take up less than two pages. These two pages are expanded into the entire first half of the movie.
Adult Fear: The murder of the newborns in the prologue, which is the entire reason why Yocheved sends baby Moses away in the river. Also, the final plague.
Age Cut: Whilst Moses is in the desert several years are implied to have gone by, shown by his beard growth between shots.
Alas, Poor Villain: Ramses' downfall is portrayed with all the pathos of a family member suffering hardship.
Ancient Egypt: The basic setting and circumstance. The film features references to the Egyptian pantheon and culture, and illustrates several of its buildings and landmarks.
Antagonist in Mourning: Inverted. Moses breaks down in tears after the final plague. He is crying not only for the loss of his nephew, and by extension all the first born of Egypt, but the loss of his relationship with Rameses.
Anti-Villain: Rameses, to the point where the creators had to rewrite some scenes between him and Moses because he came off as too sympathetic and Moses as cruel. He is forcing the Hebrews to work as slaves and refuses to let them go, just cracking down harder on them when Moses returns and demands their freedom. However, we are shown that he has been raised on the beliefs of his father, that a single weak king could cause the collapse of a long and proud dynasty, and Rameses refuses to let that be him.
Moses probably always knew that he was a Hebrew in the original story, whereas in this film he does not figure it out until around his adult life.
In Exodus, Moses and Aaron are 80 and 83 years old, respectively, at the time of the plagues. While Moses is shown to have spent at least several years as a shepherd, he is still very much a young man when he confronts Ramses here.
Moses had Aaron actually deal with Pharaoh in the original story and also perform most of the miracles, in this version he does it all himself.
Art Shift: The wall-painting dream sequence, which is stylized as Egyptian hieroglyphs and wall paintings.
In Moses' and Ramses' chariot race none of their horses panic or run out of control, despite their race leading atop construction scaffolding and collapsing buildings.
Averted during the cavalry charge of the Egyptian army at the end of the film. Horses are seen panicking, throwing off their riders and running wild after they are startled.
Award Bait Song: "When You Believe", which won the Best Song Oscar. Also qualifies as a Breakout Pop Hit, as there are many fans of the song who only know it as "that Whitney/Mariah song". Especially combined with the "multi-lingual version". Interestingly, the version within the film has aged much better, as it lacks the "here's the obligatory Disney-style pop ballad" qualities of the end-credits version.
Badass Beard: Jethro wins the prize for the movie's biggest, most awesome beard.
Bathe Her And Bring Her To My Brother: Ramses finds Tzipporah to be too feisty for his taste and dumps her on Moses. Ironically, he has her dried instead of bathed before being brought to his brother, as she had already fallen in a pool of water.
Jethro, the largest character in the film, pulls both Moses and Tzipporah into a giant hug after they decide to get married.
When Moses returns to Egypt, he and Rameses eye each other in surprise. Rameses, however, quickly gets over the shock and grabs Moses in a giant hug, lifting him off the floor and apparently even squeezing the air out of Moses.
Beauty Equals Goodness: While most of the villains, besides Mooks, don't look ugly (exceptions listed below), all of the characters whom are consistently portrayed as good (besides Moses, who starts out as a jerk to people of lower castes) are also noticeably better looking than background characters—namely, Moses, Yocheved, The Queen, Tzipporah, and Miriam. Aaron, who starts out as a cynic towards Moses, is shown as gangling and awkward (though this may be due to malnutrition—or due to other reasons).
The "ugly" villains: Hotep and Huy—whom, incidentally, are never shown in a good light like the other villains.
Rameses' first reaction to his little brother killing a man in front of multiple witnesses is to declare him innocent. When Moses returns after years of being gone, he is ready to give his brother a high position and wipe away the crime.
Aaron is frequently seen trying to protect Miriam from the consequences of her actions, as her forwardness places her in trouble with the Egyptian authorities.
Bittersweet Ending: Moses successfully leads the Hebrews out of their lives as slaves, but his brotherly relationship with Rameses is destroyed forever.
Blessed with Suck: Moses comes to view being chosen by God as this, as he is forced to be the instrument of destruction, pain and death.
Blue and Orange Morality: God. A point made at several times in the Old Testament, and referenced when Moses is speaking to the Burning Bush, is that God is so far above humanity that we can not comprehend His actions. When Moses questions why he is being selected, God explicitly states that He has done so much more than Moses will ever even be able to conceive.
Book Ends: The movie begins with Jocheved singing "Deliver Us", and ends with her singing the single line "Deliver Us" as Moses comes down from Mt Sinai.
Cain and Abel: Moses and Rameses are a deconstruction of this trope, as their history and affection lead to great turmoil and angst as they conflict with one another. Neither even wants to kill the other (and it takes a spectacular Villainous Breakdown on Rameses' part before it gets to that point), but are thrust into their roles by a higher power.
When Tzipporah is offered to Rameses by the priests she tries to bite his hand and Moses teases him: "Not much of a snake charmer, are you?" When Moses shows up at the palace for the first time and tells Rameses to "let his people go" and then transforms his staff into a snake, Rameses smirks and says "Hotep, Huy, show this snake charmer our answer". Moses had brought Tzipporah to the palace as his wife.
When Moses and Tzipporah first meet, he humiliates her by letting go of the rope she's pulling on, causing her to fall backwards into a pool of water. When Moses is trapped in the well in Midian, Tzipporah lets go of the rope she was using to pull him out as soon as she realizes who he is.
Cherubic Choir: When the Israelites are finally leaving Egypt, a song of praise to God is being sung by children in the background. In Hebrew, no less. The song in question, Mi Chamocha, was supposedly composed by Miriam during the Exodus itself.
Children Are Innocent: Played straight in this film, as both the Hebrew and Egyptian children killed are viewed as victims of situations outside of their control. There is also a scene when the Angel of Death arrives and a curious Hebrew child looks out the window at it until his mother pulls him away.
Cool Big Sis: Tzipporah may be this for her younger sisters.
Counterpoint Duet: The "The Plagues" song includes one of these, culminating in Moses and Rameses simultaneously singing "Let my people go" and "(I will never) let your people go".
Conspicuous CG: Moses's basket and the plague of frogs, among other things, have much more dimension than the rest of the animation. According to the commentary, this was intentional.
Damsel in Distress: Tzipporah is introduced this way, captured by Hotep and Huy and intended as a concubine of sorts for Rameses. She later escapes by herself. Later in the film this is also how Moses meets her three sisters, as they are being harassed by bandits trying to make off with their sheep.
Moses: This was my home. and later Rameses: Is this what you wanted?!
Immediately following "The Plagues," the score mournfully reprises "All I Ever Wanted" as Moses walks through the now-damaged palace to once more attempt to reason with Ramses.
Darker and Edgier: To be expected, being an adaptation of a religious story, but still moreso than what most people, especially kids, would typically associate with DreamWorks Animation-produced fare.
Deadpan Snarker: Hotep and Huy, the Egyptian high priests, have their moments – often mumbled in the background:
Seti (to Moses and Rameses): Have I taught you nothing?
Huy: Your Majesty, You mustn’t be so hard on yourself. You’re an excellent teacher.
Hotep: It’s not your fault they learned nothing.
Huy: Well, they learned blasphemy.
Defeat Means Friendship: Some of the Egyptians guards are seen joining and aiding the Hebrews on their journey to the Promise Land.
Deliberately Monochrome: Moses confronting Rameses after the latter's son has been killed in the final plague of Egypt.
Demoted to Extra: Aaron, Moses's compatriot and aide in the Exodus, becomes less relevant to the story and does not personally support Moses until after the plagues have been unleashed; conversely, Tzipporah becomes an Ascended Extra. She instead of Aaron is with Moses in the staffs-to-snakes scene.
Disappeared Dad: Or at least we never see Amram, the father of Moses and his siblings.
Disaster Dominoes: Moses being an irresponsible chariot driver is what causes the Sphinx to lose its nose.
Used at the end of "All I Ever Wanted", when there is an Art Shift to a hieroglyphics style in Moses's dream.
Justified in "Playing With the Big Boys Now", because the effects are being created within the film by the two characters performing the song.
Disney Villain Death: While trying to stop an Egyptian guard cruelly whipping a Hebrew slave, Moses accidentally pushes the guard off the scaffolding of the temple and the guard falls to his death. This causes Moses to exile himself out of guilt and shame (In the original, the guard was whipping a Hebrew slave and Moses saw, that if he wouldn't stop (kill) the guard, the guard would kill the slave).
Don't Make Me Destroy You: In the scene immediately preceding the plague of the firstborn, Moses practically begs Rameses not to let things continue, all the while staring at Rameses' son. Rameses refuses, which makes Moses extremely upset.
Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: God will give you plenty of chances to let his people go, but if you refuse, his wrath can be frightening.
Don't Say Such Stupid Things: Moses refuses to lead the Israelites out of slavery because they would never trust or follow him, but God loses His temper and tells him to go anyways.
Moses: You've chosen the wrong messenger! How can I even speak to these people?
God: WHO MADE MAN'S MOUTH!? Who made the deaf, the mute, the seeing, or the blind? Did not I? Now, GO!
Dream Melody: Moses is seen casually whistling the lullaby his biological mother sang to him at the beginning. When he hears Miriam singing the song after she reveals his true heritage he recognizes the tune and realizes the truth.
Dreaming The Truth: Moses realizes where he came from in a dream depicted in various Egyptian art images.
Epic Movie: From the point of conception, Jeffrey Katzenberg intended this to be his Big Damn Epic Movie and marketed it as such. It was his first film since The Lion King and he wanted to show his former studio what he was capable of.
Exact Words: "And there shall be a great cry in all of Egypt, such as never has been or ever will be again."
The Faceless: Tzipporah's youngest sister. We get a brief glimpse of her face when she excitedly asks Moses to sit with her at Jethro's banquet table, but otherwise her eyes are the only part of her face not concealed by her oversized headscarf,
And Moses' skin color actually changes when he transitions culturally.
Falling in Love Montage: "Through Heaven's Eyes" doubles somewhat as this for Moses and Tzipporah, culminating in their wedding.
Family Values Villain: Despite ordering the mass infanticide among the Hebrew slaves, Pharaoh Seti I gives every sign of being a family man who genuinely loves his wife and sons. However, this is a rare example that serves to make him creepier rather than sympathetic due to the cognitive dissonance involved; he ignores the obvious implication that he nearly murdered the babe who later became his favorite son (Moses) because he doesn't seem to consider him a Hebrew at all instead of a Prince of Egypt.
Foreshadowing: Several scenes at the beginning of the film obliquely refer to later events, particularly when the Pharaoh is scolding Ramses and Moses, and the conversation Moses and Ramses have afterwards. The scenes get numerous call backs later in the film.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Ramses is the responsible older brother, while Moses is the freewheeling younger brother. Both grow out of their roles as the movie goes along, but they each remember and refer back to their roles from when they were younger.
Rameses: You don't think we'll get in trouble for this, do you? Moses:No, not a chance. [Cue Moses and Rameses being scolded for the chaos the race caused.] Seti: Why do the gods torment me with such reckless, destructive, blasphemous sons!?
God: The one who commands Moses to free the Hebrews, and who uses his power to punish the Egyptians until they consent.
A God Am I: Ramses repeatedly refers to himself as "the morning and the evening star," pointing to the fact that as Pharaoh, he is supposed to be a god incarnate.
Good Is Not Nice: God is working to free His enslaved people as promised, but the film does not gloss over how thorough His vengeance on Egypt was, especially in the eye-for-eye smiting of the Firstborn even down to the young children.
Happily Ever Before: The film stops immediately after the Red Sea Crossing, with a brief subsequent image of Moses bringing down the Ten Commandments, leaving out all mention of the Golden Calf, the destruction of the original tablets, or subsequent hardships for the fleeing Hebrews.
Held Gaze: Moses and Tziporrah during the last part of the "Through Heaven's Eyes" musical sequence.
Heroic BSOD: Moses has several: the first occurs when he discovers he is an adopted Hebrew, and the second comes after the 10th Plague, as does Rameses' Villainous Breakdown.
Humble Pie: Moses starts to lose his haughty prince attitude when he discovers his true heritage.
I Did What I Had to Do: Subverted. Seti expresses regret in regards to ordering his soldiers to slaughter the Hebrew newborns. However, his following remark makes his real feelings about the matter even clearer.
Ironic Echo: When Moses is fleeing Egypt after killing the Egyptian who was torturing a slave, Rameses sympathetically and lovingly tries to stop him. Moses says only "Goodbye, Brother" before running away. Rameses then yells out "Moses! Moses!!" in pleading despair. At the end of the movie, when Rameses crashes onto the shore from the Red Sea closing in, he once again screams out "Moses! Moses!!", but this time it is out of fury at having lost not only his son, but his slaves and effectively his entire kingdom, all by Moses's hand. Once again, Moses only states "Goodbye, Brother."
"I Want" Song: Inverted with "All I Ever Wanted". Rather than singing about wanting more out of life, the song is about Moses trying to convince himself that he already has everything he could ever want and has no reason to be dissatisfied.
Manly Tears: Moses at the deaths of all the firstborn Egyptian sons. After Rameses finally grants the Hebrews permission to leave (while mourning over his own son's body), as Moses walks back to the Hebrew dwellings amid the echoing sound of bereaved mothers' cries, he is overcome with grief and collapses against a wall, sobbing.
Mass "Oh, Crap!": The Egyptian soldiers, just before the Red Sea sweeps over them.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Hotep and Huy's snake conjuration was done with such theatrics that it is hard to tell if they actually did magic or just managed some sleight of hand. Their attempt at turning water to blood and other "magic", however, is demonstrably accomplished through showmanship and artificial tools.
After Moses tells Rameses that God has sent him to free the Hebrews, Rameses was angry with this and informs him that, thanks to 'his' god, he will increase the workload for the slaves.
Rameses: "...or is it thanks to you?"
In the next scene, when the slaves hear of this, they were displeased with Moses and one of them threw mud at him to show their frustration.
Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!: The film shows this scenario through an Egyptian-hieroglyphic animation dream sequence, followed by a final confrontation between the Prince Moses and Seti I, his adoptive father: "Sometimes," Seti says, with a look of utter horror on his face at the memory (or is it fear of divine judgment?), "sacrifices must be made...." Then he tries to comfort his son with the worst words possible: "They were only slaves..."
Oh, Crap: Several. Rameses had one when Moses tells him that they are late for the banquet.
Aaron, in the background, when Miriam tells Moses “You’re our brother."
Ominous Egyptian Chanting: Used to a degree in "Playing With the Big Boys", in which the names of several Egyptian gods are chanted at the beginning and later in the background.
The Plagues includes a backing chorus of Ominous English Chanting.
Our Angels Are Different: The angel of death looks like it came through a portal from outside of existance and is basically a giant glowing white cloud that pulls the breath of life from the first born children. No wings, no halo, and sword dripping with the blood of Egyptians.
Pet the Dog: Subverted. Seti clearly cares about his sons. When he finds Moses reeling at the fate of the Hebrew children, Seti hugs him, speaks in the soothing tones of Patrick Stewart...and tells Moses it was justified because they were just slave children. The worst part of this is that Seti thought this would make Moses feel better.
Prodigal Hero: Being an adaptation of the story of Moses the film tells this story, mixing both the accidental murder as well as disgust of the Egyptians' treatment towards the Jews.
Protagonist Title: The Prince in question is Moses, who eventually rejects the title when he discovers his true heritage.
The Queen's Latin: Most of the Egyptian characters (save for Hotep and Huy) speak with British accents, while the Hebrews speak with American accents.
Reality Has No Subtitles: Many of the songs contain individual lines or entire choruses in Hebrew, sung along with the predominantly English lyrics. No translations are offered note except in the booklet for the soundtrack CD, but the tone and context of the songs at least hint at their meanings.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Moses and Rameses, respectively. As young men, Moses is rambunctious and flippant while Rameses is more introspective and prone to angsting. When they grow up, they retain their oni roles, but in a different way. Moses is passionate and warm while Rameses is cold and ruthless. Even their clothing reflects this. Rameses wears blue and white while Moses wears red and earth tones. They're also represented by their respective colors in one shot during "The Plagues."
Rule of Symbolism: In the opening sequence the Hebrew slaves look upon with awe at the statue of Ra that they just put up, which symbolized the power of the Egyptians over them. Toward the end of the plagues sequence, the statue crumbles. Some scholars believe that the plagues were meant to rebuke the various Egyptian religions and their gods (Ra, god of the Sun falls on the onset of the plague of darkness).
Sarcasm Mode: "Moses! Let me guess. You want me to...let your people go."
Scenery Porn: The opening sequence showing the Hebrews raising Egyptian monuments, the Plagues, and the crossing of the Red Sea.
Sexy Silhouette: Subverted. After Moses has Tziporrah sent to his chambers by Rameses, he sees a shadowy figure sitting on his bed behind a curtain, looking as if it is her sitting there with her arms crossed defiantly. He laughs awkwardly before pulling the curtain back to reveal that it is the servant who had escorted her there all tied up. He then realizes that his dogs are tied up as well and there is a Bedsheet Ladder going out his window.
Shoot the Dog: God sending the Ten Plagues to wreck Egypt. A horrible punishment, particularly for the suffering innocent, but necessary to free the Hebrews.
Shoo Out the Clowns: During "The Plagues", Ramses enters a room with Hotep and Huy as they are applying ointment to their boils. Enraged at their inability to stop the plagues, Ramses orders them to "Get Out!" They are not seen again in the film.
Sidekick: Tzipporah functions as a rare wife version, as she accompanies the hero thoughout most of his epic journey.
Shown Their Work: The silhouette of a whale shark is seen behind the watery walls of the Red Sea passage, which does connect to the habitat range of the species.
Time Skip: There are two timeskips. After "Deliver Us" the film jumps forward approximately twenty years to when Moses is a young man, and during "Through Heaven's Eyes" the film quickly progresses through several more years.
Title Drop: At several times in the movie, Moses is referred to as "a/the Prince of Egypt". The term is solely used to refer to him and not to Rameses, who is instead viewed as the future Pharaoh.
Tomato in the Mirror: When Moses slowly realizes that he is a Hebrew, during the sequence preceding "All I Ever Wanted".
Toppled Statue: The same statue shown being raised in the opening is destroyed during the Plagues.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: People were so distracted by the priests' theatrics that they don't seem to notice Moses' snake eating the two that they produced.
Villainous Breakdown: In a very tragic example, Rameses snaps after the death of his son, riding after Moses and the Hebrews and, when they try to escape him through the Red Sea, he shouts to his men "Kill them! KILL THEM ALL!" The last of him seen in the film is him screaming in rage and agony, cursing Moses.
Villain Song: Rameses' Dark Reprise of "All I Ever Wanted" might count, and while they are more inept evil sidekicks than true villains, Hotep and Huy's "Playing With The Big Boys Now" counts.
Villains Out Shopping: When Moses confronts Rameses at the Nile. Not only is Rameses just lounging in his boat, Huy and Hotep seem to be entertaining his son with magic tricks.
Was Too Hard on Him: Moses asks Seti if he was too harsh on Rameses by calling him a weak link who will bring shame to Egypt just after Moses took the blame for goading Rameses on their wild chariot race.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Even after the death of his father, Rameses is still struggling with the man's immense shadow and wants to be the kind of Pharaoh his father was. This leads to tragedy for the Egyptians. Truth in Television for this one, at least for the first half of that statement. Rameses II is by all accounts one Egypt's greatest Pharaoh, and many speculate that his achievements were motivated by a desire to live up to his distant father's legacy.
Moses: All he cares about is your approval. I know he will live up to your expectations. He only needs the opportunity.
Widescreen Shot: Scenes set in the Pharaoh's throne room are occasionally sot side-on, showing the characters in profile and looking out over the city. These shots are in a widescreen format much wider than the rest of the movie to illustrate the backdrop the characters are up against. The background is different in each scene due to the progressing time, showing the status of Egypt at that moment.