Reviews: The Prince Of Egypt
Oh, Prince of Egypt. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways... 1) No whitewashing, yay! Semitic-looking Hebrews and not-white Egyptians. Unlike nearly every other Exodus film. 2) The foregrounding of women (though it ironically fails the Bechdel Test). These ladies are independent and bright, and take active roles in the story. Especially Miriam. This is the only Exodus retelling I know of that gives her the credit she deserves. She is an important figure in Judaism and in the Exodus itself, as well as a prophetess, and The Prince of Egypt does such a great job reflecting it. I can totally buy this Miriam as a visionary: She sees what Moses can be long before anybody else does and then constantly pushes Moses to live up to it. (Tzipporah was great too, though less integral and it's unfortunate her profile was raised at the cost of Aaron's, my only real problem with this film. Aaron never seems to get a fair shake in these movies. Though he serves as a decent foil here and his criticism of Moses is really on point.) 3) No I AM EVULLL villains. The bad guys here - minus the court-magician sidekicks - are well-developed and sympathetic. Rameses is so hell-bent on pleasing/surpassing his father, and he's so hurt by Moses going to bat against him for his blood family and blood tribe that it hardens his heart and leads to his downfall. And sure, Seti is a genocidal maniac, but he clearly loves both of his sons, and seems to respect his wife as well. He even tries to console Moses over the genocide, though the way he went about it was kind of screwed up. (Oh, they were only slaves... you feel better now?) 4) Respect for sources/people's beliefs, etc. It is truly impressive how far Dreamworks went to not alienate people who revere the Exodus. The research that went into this is incredible. Obviously they consulted the Bible, but that's not the only text that matters. There's also Talmud and Midrash (Jewish lore) here, which I deeply appreciate as a Jew. It's great to finally see a rehashing that doesn't totally de-Judaize it. 5) I didn't even get to the animation yet. The scale, the detail, it's all done so well that I often forget I'm watching scenes that were drawn up from nothing. Character designs are complex and lifelike, and the parting of the Red Sea will always leave me awestruck...
I was brought up in a Christian household, so I've seen a lot of biblical movies. Almost all of them are cringeworthy at best, with dodgy animation, terrible music and stilted dialogue, you know the drill... This is the farthest thing from those movies as it is possible to be. It is a work of art. Even now, as a Muslim, this holds a very special place in my heart. I would actually go so far as to say it is one of the best films ever made. Firstly: the animation is exquisite. There are a few moments of obvious CGI, especially during the opening sequences, but it's actually quite tasteful. The art shifts are short and sweet and brilliantly executed, and the 'Plague' sequence is, quite simply, stunning. A lot of care and attention has been put into the art, and it really shows. The music and songs are fantastically written and performed. They're not cheesy at all, and convey the perfect amount of emotion to wrench at your heartstrings. They must be heard to be believed, and most of them link very closely to each other: 'this is my home' and 'plague' are prime examples. 'Deliver Us', the opening song, sets the bar high, and the rest of the pieces are equally ingenious. The script flows naturally, and has something for everybody. Seriously, I have seen this movie several dozen times, and there is always something new I haven't noticed before. Moses is a character everybody can sympathise with, but the side characters (Aaron, Tzipporah, Rameses) give the movie depth and make it moving. As a child, Moses' story was engrossing, and as an adult, Rameses' side of the tale is equally compelling. The voice actors do their job excellently, and combined with the brilliant animation, the result is a very real-feeling film, with characters the viewer feels genuine empathy for. In short, this movie is something everybody should see at least once. Everybody I know who has watched this film, regardless of their religion or personal philosophies, has found it to be a masterpiece that is both entertaining and respectful to the source material. Don't let the 'U' rating or the fact it's a bible movie put you off. It is so much more.
Who knew Dreamworks could churn out a BIBLICAL EPIC? Now, when you hear ďaimated movie about mosesĒ you think of a very watered down kidís film that doesnít respect the story. But leave it to dreamworks to make an epic film that doesnít water down any part of the story You can tell they put a lot of effort into making this movie accurate to the story. It really is much more adult than most dreamworks films. Hell, most animated films period. The relationship between Moses and Rames is very complex, and well done. Rames isnít just a bad guy, and in the end itís sad to see him get the bittersweet ending. Yeah, spoiler alert. Itís epic, has great animation, great songs, complex characters, dark themes and itís simply awesome.