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. In this version, Moses and Rameses are raised as brothers instead of (as is more likely) a nephew and his uncle respectively. In Exodus, Moses is accompanied by his brother Aaron to assist the tongue-tied Moses while speaking to Pharaoh, yet in the movie, Aaron is a more skeptical background character who is voiced by the tongue-tied actor Jeff Goldblum. The film also contains several elements not mentioned or specified in the Bible, such as Rameses being the Pharaoh (whereas some scholars contend it may have been Thutmose III), the comic relief characters Huy and Hotep (possibly loosely based on the two magicians "Jannes and Jambres" referenced from old Jewish folklore in the New Testament) portrayed by Martin Short and Steve Martin, a few show-stopping musical numbers from Stephen Schwartz, and a very well written background score by Hanz Zimmer. It won considerable acclaim in its time, however, and even got an Oscar for one of those songs.Compare The Ten Commandments.
Provides Examples Of:
Acting for Two: Val Kilmer does the voice of both Moses and the Almighty.
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.
Animation Bump: Any scene which uses CGI for the backgrounds. The highest point would be the parting of the Red Sea.
Antagonist in Mourning: Inverted. Moses breaks down in tears after the final plague. He is crying not only for the loss of his nephew, but the loss of his relationship with Rameses.
On a meta level, Moses likely also cried for all the Egyptian firstborns who died that night and not just for his nephew.
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's 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're shown that he's 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.
Artistic License: The disclaimer at the opening of the film is open and straightforward about this. Some changes are made from the original Exodus story for the sake of drama—for example, Moses probably always knew that he was a Hebrew in the original story, whereas in this film he doesn't figure it out until around his adult life.
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. Whether or not Jethro himself is badass is debatable, but his beard certainly is.
Bittersweet Ending: Moses successfully leads the Hebrews out of their lives as slaves, but his brotherly relationship with Rameses is destroyed forever.
And the 40 year walk in the desert.
To say nothing of the fact that Rameses II would go on to become one of the greatest Pharaohs in Egyptian history, his achievements cementing Egypt itself to be the world's most powerful empire for several centuries to come.
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. One also sees some elements of an Omniscient Morality License in the plagues, particularly the Plague on the Firstborn.
Of course, as the scene directly before the Plague of the Firstborn points out, this is more God choosing to Pay Evil unto Evil.
Big Brother Instinct: 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. That didn't turn out.
Also Aaron for Miriam.
Big "NO!": Rameses, when God makes the Red Sea sweep him backwards.
Big Word Shout: Rameses, when we see him after the Red Sea returns to normal, alone and defeated:
Bilingual Bonus: 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.
Bookends: 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.
Break the Haughty: What God does to Rameses for repeatedly refusing to let the Hebrews go. The final straw was the death of Rameses's son.
Brick Joke: 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.
Bring It: "Playing With The Big Boys Now" is the priests giving one of these to Moses, and God by extension. He brings it.
Changeling Fantasy: Inverted — Moses does not take the news of his real heritage too well...
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 very, very straight in this film, especially in the killing of the firstborn scenes. There's 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.
Counterpoint Duet: The much-mentioned "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". Just one of many reasons this song is in the Crowning Music of Awesome section.
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.
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.
Disaster Dominoes: Moses being an irresponsible chariot driver is what causes the Sphinx to lose its nose.
Disney Acid Sequence: 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.
Distressed Damsel: 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're being harassed by bandits trying to make off with their sheep.
Doing It for the Art: The film was a truly sincere effort by DreamWorks Animation to try and make a great movie, hence why there was little merchandise made for the film. They even consulted many religious groups to give the A-OK to the story material.
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.
Don't Say Such Stupid Things: Moses refuses to lead the Israelites out of slavery because he cannot speak well, but God loses His temper and tells him to go anyways.
Dream Melody: Moses is seen casually whistling the lullaby his biological mother sang to him at the beginning. This explains the shocked look on his face when he hears Miriam singing the song after she reveals his true heritage.
Dreaming The Truth: Moses realizes where he came from in a dream depicted in various Egyptian art images.
Drowning My Sorrows: Rameses appears to be trying to do this when Moses arrives to plead with him one last time before the final Plague.
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, after all, and he wanted to show his former studio what he was capable of.
Exact Words: "There will be a great cry in the land of Egypt".
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,
Foreshadowing: Quite a few moments in the beginning, especially the 'weak link' part (which gets a Call Back later on) and the conversation between Moses and Rameses that follows. In that conversation, Moses jokingly says Rameses will bring down the entire empire by himself. He wasn't far off...
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!?
A God Am I: Never said exactly, but 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 doesn't 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's an adopted Hebrew, and the second comes after the 10th Plague, as does Rameses' Villainous Breakdown.
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,note although history has it that he will at least rebuild it and that he will become the greatest Pharaoh in history.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.
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's hard to tell if they actually did magic or just managed some sleight of hand. Their attempt at turning water to blood seems a bit more fake, though.
More pervasively, the biggest criticism of the film is how intrusive the comic relief scenes can be.
Never Trust a Trailer: The original trailer made this look like a more action-packed, definitely more kid-friendly film.
Non-Singing Voice: Averted with Ralph Fiennes (Rameses), Steve Martin and Martin Short (Hotep and Huy), and Michelle Pfeiffer (Tzipporah), all of whom did their own singing. Oddly enough Val Kilmer did not do his own singing, even though he has a really good voice and has sung in other movies he has made.
Oh Crap: Several. Rameses had one when Moses tells him that they are late for the banquet.
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 also includes a backing chorus of Ominous English Chanting.
Papa Wolf: An important take-away lesson: do not anger God by oppressing His people and murdering their babies. You really won't like the blowback.
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.
Playing Against Type: It is a bit unnerving to hear Patrick Stewart (as Pharaoh Seti) justifying murdering thousands of innocent Hebrew babies in that soothing Team Dad voice.
Seti: Oh, my son, they were only slaves...
Pragmatic Hero: God is this to a T. His goal is to force Ramesses to free the Hebrews by sending the Ten Plagues to tear apart Egypt (including innocent Egyptians). It works.
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.
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.
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.
Shoo Out the Clowns: In one scene, Rameses overturns a table, and Hotep and Huy vanish for the rest of the movie. Things turn very dark shortly afterward. If you listen very carefully, you can even hear Rameses shouting "Get out!" just under the music.
Sidekick: Tzipporah functions as an extremely rare wife version, as she accompanies the hero thoughout most of his epic journey.
Shown Their Work: Many examples, but one that stands out is the silhouette of a whale shark seen behind the watery walls of the Red Sea passage.
Single Tear: Yocheved when she sends baby Moses away on the river.
Synthetic Voice Actor: Averted behind the scenes - they just decided to screw casting a machine as God and just got Val Kilmer to voice him (as well as Moses - hey, it worked for Charlton Heston...), which led to....
"Playing With The Big Boys Now" can be seen as a challenge to God. As the next song ("The Plagues") shows, this was not wise.
When Rameses says that "there will be a great cry in the land of Egypt" (see Exact Words above).
The conversation between Ramses and Moses towards the start of the film, in which Moses (jokingly and completely non-seriously) says that Ramses will singlehandedly bring the greatest empire in the world to its knees, how statues will topple, and crops will wither and die.
The Mockbuster: There were not one, but two direct-to-video cash-ins that were not only released the same year as Prince Of Egypt, but made little to no attempt in changing their titles.
Threat Backfire: Angered with Moses' insistence on letting his people go, Rameses says that the Hebrews need to be punished even harder and "there will be a great cry in the land of Egypt". His words turn out to be prophetic - however, it's not the Hebrews who will let out this great cry...
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.
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 insane 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.