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Headscratchers / The Prince of Egypt

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  • Anybody care to explain the blatant colourism in this movie?? Seriously, Moses is pretty dark in the evening beginning. Fast forward to him leaving Egypt and he's like 2 or 3 tones lighter! It can't even be argued that he had a lifestyle change. He became a labourer and would have been exposed to the sun all day in comparison to when he was a prince. Not to mention practically everyone else in the movie is darker. So why is he lighter in complexion?
    • Just checked several scenes carefully from the beginning of the film, and Moses is consistently lighter in tone than the Egyptians around him. Colorism is unlikely as a general theme; Tzipporah and her family remain even darker than the Egyptians.
    • Still doesn't explain why Moses has dark skin in the beginning of the film, but has light looks-like-a-European skin toward the end. Seriously, the Moses of the beginning and the Moses of the end look like two completely different people.
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    • As a Prince of Egypt, he was out in the sun while wearing a relatively small wig and a sort of loincloth/skirt. As a wilderness shepherd, he wore a long-sleeved, below-ankle garment with a scarf that, though we don't really see him specifically using it this way in the movie, is clearly there to cover his head and part of his face while out in the sun.
    • Ancient Egyptian art showed four general skin colorations, which represented different peoples of the region. The Egyptians portrayed themselves as darker of skin than Semitic peoples (Hebrews, Canaanites, etc...) and lighter than Sub-Saharan or Western Africans (Sudanese, Kushites, etc...). The lightest of all were Southern Europeans (Greeks, Minoans, etc...)

  • Minor thing. But the fact that Tzipporah's youngest sister constantly has a scarf covering half of her face has always struck me as an odd choice of character design. And I remember thinking this when I watched the film at my tender, single-digit age. Why does she wear a headscarf when no one else does? Is it like how little kids can get fanatically attached to a particular piece of clothing? Is her face horribly injured? It's also odd because in the West we're always taught to think that a woman's headscarf is a sign of oppression (which I do not buy into). It's just... weird.
    • Judging by the fact that she lives next to a desert, its probably a good way of stopping dust entering the lungs. Maybe she is the only one who has asthma?
      • As the scarf moves, we can see the rest of her face in a couple shots. She looks fine.
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    • Other people don't always buy into any of that oppressive symbolism either, especially when the men are wearing scarves too. Also, you may recall there had recently been a sandstorm. The only real question is why we don't see the other characters wearing them more often.
    • It may also just be their way of portraying her as a shy girl, kind of like the way Violet always had her hair draped over her face in The Incredibles until she got more confident and learned to stick up for herself.
    • Plus, didn't she have her scarf completely down at one point? In the scene where Moses first meets the leader of their tribe, he reaches out for a food, and someone hisses at him, saying, "Not yet!" and her scarf was lowered. Was this her?
      • No, that was a different girl.
    • It's just for cute factor.

  • Regarding the Pharaoh's Genocide Backfire: if Aaron is Moses' brother, wouldn't that mean that he would be the one targeted by the Egyptian soldiers? I mean, HE'S the firstborn, not Moses.
    • According to the Jewish texts, the murder of Hebrew infant boys went into effect after Aaron was born, when Pharaoh's astrologers predicted that a child would be born among the Hebrews and would grow up to rescue them from bondage.
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    • It wasn't a prophecy, it was population control. That part isn't in the Bible, unless you're referencing the Talmud.
    • You're getting it mixed up. The tenth plague was the first-born because Ramses specifically targeted the Hebrews' first-born. Ramses and Moses' father's genocide was to kill all the male infants who had recently been born, so presumably Aaron was older than that genocide began.
    • And he was. Aaron is shown during those events as just past a toddler.
      • I'd put Aaron as four or five just based on looks.
    • This raises an interesting question about the tenth plague: if it targets the first-born, regardless of age, why did Ramses himself survive?
      • Because Ramses's father was dead, making him the head of the family.
      • It's not clear as to whether the tenth plague targeted adults. In The Ten Commandments it did, in this movie only children are seen as the victims.
      • There were adult victims. When the Angel of Death enters the palace, the guards flee and it moves in the direction of one of them.
      • It moved in that direction because that's the direction the kid lived.
      • Would first-born also only apply to families with more than one child? Because to be the first born implies there are other children that were born after you or otherwise you're an only child. And while Ramses did consider Moses his brother, technically he was the only child born of Seti and his queen.
      • Not necessarily. Catholic tradition holds that when the Gospel of Luke refers to Jesus as Mary's "first-born" son, it doesn't imply that she had other sons, but that Jesus was entitled to all of the rights, inheritance, and privileges of a first-born son — which was a bit of a big deal in ancient Judaism, just ask Jacob and Esau.
      • Ramses was spared because he wasn't the firstborn. His sister was already married by the time he was old enough to remember her and his older brother died shortly before Moses was adopted.
      • Odd that that's part of the Catholic tradition (this is coming from a Protestant). When Jesus goes to Nazareth, townspeople mention that he has brothers and sisters, though the number of sisters is left unclear. So, yes Jesus would be considered the first-born of Mary even if he was an only child, but the existence of half-siblings makes it even clearer.
      • To clarify, Catholics believe that those "siblings" of Jesus are actually "cousins". You know, to keep the whole "Virgin Mary" aspect.
    • Empathy, to feel a PARENT'S pain the Egyptian's got what the Hebrews got and if you think about it the Egyptian's with young children then would have been the same age as the children killed before. Harsh Laser-Guided Karma via Sins of Our Fathers.
      • As an interesting side-note, this was the only plague that required action on the part of the Hebrews. They were told to kill a lamb and use a hyssop branch to spread blood on the doorposts and lintels. Though the Bible doesn't specify and the movie doesn't show it, the messages involving blood sacrifice throughout the Bible (culminating with the death of Jesus and the discovery that Gentiles could also become Christians) strongly suggest that any Hebrews who failed to spread the blood on the door could lose their firstborns, while any Egyptians who said "Heck with this" and spread the blood on the door could also be passed over.
    • I know the wording was First Born son but did they mean eldest? Considering what infant and child mortality rates were until relatively recently it's unlikely that there was a first born son available in what seems to have been every single home with a children.
      • The film doesn't actually say it's firstborn 'sons', just 'firstborns'. So if their eldest child was a daughter (hence a first-born), she would die, and not necessarily her younger brother/sister.
    • You're confusing the tenth plague with the Pharaoh's genocide. The Hebrew babies killed were only male - because of the prophecy of Moses. The tenth plague just said "first borns" - so presumably it included daughters.
    • The Bible only makes mention of males when counting people; children included. So this means the plague affected daughters who were first-born as well.
    • According to the Bible, when the policy was first put in place (killing all the male infants, not only the firstborn, and the females were specifically allowed in the decree to live), the midwives were supposed to put it into effect and refused. They lied and claimed that the Hebrew women labored more vigorously and gave birth before they could arrive. It is likely that Aaron was one of the baby boys protected by an Egyptian midwife.

  • Why do so few of the Hebrews have their heads covered? And why does Tzipporah that?
    • Tzipporah seems to be from a different country, maybe for her its cultural differences.
    • Yep, she's from Midian (which is where Moses wanders to after leaving Egypt).
    • And considering the Hebrews (as the people are from the 12 Tribes, which includes Judah), most of the rules don't get put into place until after the Exodus.
    • Leviticus has all of the rules placed under the leadership of Moses. It's basically considered the Old Testament rulebook.

  • How was Baby Moses not injured or at the very least crying after his little journey down the Nile? Let's recap what happened: He's nearly nommed on by crocs and hippos, he's battered by oars of fishermen quite violently, he's hoisted up in a net before plunging back into the Nile to complete the journey. When he's taken out of the basket, he's very cheerful, having seemingly forgotten what had just happened.
    • God was protecting him?
    • God and, of course- a script-writer? Chances are the real Moses didn't have such a rough ride, but there's nothing like a bit of Mood Whiplash to help set the tone for the rest of the film, in which we get to see all of Egypt's grandiose architecture and terrible cruelty side by side.
    • This troper has heard claims that an infant under sufficient stress will go into a kind of shock and not make any noise at all. Just a potential explanation.
    • He fell asleep just before he was shipped away. Maybe he was too tired to notice.
  • Why did Seti accuse his son, Ramses of nearly bringing down a dynasty just because he accidentally demolished a statue? Seems kinda harsh. What is he, a drama queen? "You dumped wine all over the floor!? YOU ARE BRINGING DOWN MY DYNASTY!!"
    • Because he thinks it's a portent of things to come. He sees Ramses as someone who prefers fast chariots, pranks and a life of luxury than actually running a country.
    • @ OP- Remember, Ramses just ruined a statue/temple that likely took a good few decades to build, so he just added another few decades just to get it back to how it was in the first place. Seti's afraid that Ramses' seeming recklessness and apparent apathy toward the station he'll have to bear later will spell Egypt's doom.
    • In mythology, damaging a god's statue is generally considered Serious Business - and gods generally aren't subtle in showing their displeasure.
    • Seti makes it clear that, after Ramses had left the room, he was not disappointed with the antics but rather that Ramses not only got rangled into it, but did not own up to the responsibility. Notice how Moses quickly chimes in and Ramses stood there and did nothing. Seti was disappointed in that Ramses did not understand the weight of his crown (this later became important, as it worked a little too well and thinking of the crown is all Ramses can do after Moses' return).
    • On top of all of that, it's stated that Ramses and Moses once swapped the heads on all of the other statues without others knowing, inadvertently causing the priests to think that a great disaster was coming and had everyone fast for two months before being found out. Considering his word would one day carry even greater weight and this was just him playing a childish prank, Seti's worry was wholly justified.

  • How did Moses change his physical appearance dramatically between his Egyptian attire and his own calling?
    • I think that was more "wear and tear". As a prince, he lived well and didn't have to work. After he left Egypt and lived with Tziporra, he worked and was exposed to the sun and the wind and the elements more.
    • Pretty much. As a prince, they probably didn't encourage him to go outside as the hot sun would damage his 'prince-ly' skin. With Tziporra's people, he had to work out in the fields with them, and his job, clearly, was to herd sheep. Though the movie doesn't show it, I imagine he was a little more rugged in appearance.
    • His hair and beard also grow out, which massively changes his appearance because he no longer fits Egyptian fashion standards.
    • Also, in The Bible, Moses was eighty when he went back to Egypt. If anything, he should have looked even more wizened.
      • In the book of Exodus, Moses leaves at age forty, rather than what I think is twenty or so in the film, so the time periods were basically cut in half. Done true to the Biblical version Miriam and Aaron should have been about twice as old as they looked.
      • According to the artbook of tPoE and the commentary, Moses is 18 (Rameses three years older) when he leaves Egypt, and "Through Heaven's Eyes" takes place over a decade. So he would have been in his thirties tops. Also, being outside all the time would also give Moses a more "weathered" look.

  • What were the high priests trying to prove by turning a bowl of water into blood? (even though they faked it) It's not like they reversed the blood in the river back into water, all they did was a small scale version of what Moses did, they didn't beat him or stop him so why does the Pharaoh act like they trumped him rather than just made his last scrap of water undrinkable?
    Exodus 7:22: But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
    • It was to prove that Moses wasn't acting with God's power, but was just using ordinary magic/tricks they too could replicate. Their line of reasoning was that if they could copy them then Moses had no real divine power.
      • But they claim they were showing the superior might of their god over Moses's god, and they still haven't really done that, turning the river back into water would have but now they have no water, and turning the last bit of water into blood if anything made things worse for them.
      • Then by it they show that their gods are just as powerful, since he allows them to do the same tricks. Gradually that shows itself to not be true, as Moses' snake eats theirs, and they eventually find themselves unable to replicate the later plagues. There's an interesting theory out there connecting each plague to a specific Egyptian god, arguing that Yahweh was trying to strike directly at their religion to show his power was greater. With that in mind, the magicians were trying to show that their gods could do the same as Moses' and thus they didn't have to fear this Hebrew God, which quickly proved untrue.
    • The explanation does help clear things up a bit, but I'm still confused on one thing: Just how gullible would Ramses have to be? Moses simply puts his staff into the water, and bam, Nile turns into blood. Priests dumped red powder into a bowl of water. How does that show that they're copying Moses? If anything else, they, too, should've just stuck a little stick into the water. Sorry, but I think they were cheating there. For an (albeit weird) analogy: What Moses did was effectively put a golf ball in a hole that was yards and yards away. The priests simply took their ball, walked over, and dropped it into the hole and declared it a victory. Plus, the 'blood' on Ramses hand was clearly dirty water, not the blood observed by Ramses' son, Miriam, and the Egyptian soldiers.
    • It becomes clearer in the next scene where the plagues go into high gear that Ramses is in self-denial, so he'll take anything that looks like it matches Moses' miracle. He does the same thing earlier when he orders his magicians to copy Moses' snake miracle, and while Moses changed the staff into a snake out in public, the magicians did it with a bright flash of light that obviously let them trade the staffs for real snakes. And Ramses had no problem with it, he still thought he had won. Long story short, Ramses' not gullible, but he's deliberately trying to ignore the falseness of his magicians just so the score looks even to him.
    • In other words, Ramses isn't stupid, he's just in denial. Of course he knows the priests didn't do what Moses did, he's just willing to pretend they did because he wants to believe it. A little like the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter ignoring evidence of Voldemort's return, not because they were stupid, but because they wanted to be believe everything was fine.
    • Ramses wasn't asking for the two to prove that their gods were better than the Hebrew god. Ramses was asking for an explanation. The whole "superior might" thing was Hotep's own line (which, by the way he said it, sounded very rehearsed). Ramses just wanted the two to explain it; he knows Hotep and Hoy are stage magicians and if they could reveal the "trick", then Moses was just spouting nonsense. It was a way for Ramses to reinforce his own mindset. It's also why he later shoos them out during the Plagues; the two now couldn't even keep the "tricks" off themselves, much less explain any of it.
    • Despite being the villain, even Ramses knew of the might of the God of Moses.

  • Did the Queen not think that a random non-Egyptian-looking baby boy floating into her palace, on the day her husband orders all the newborn Hebrew boys to be killed, was suspicious? Or even the Pharaoh for that matter. I know God was meant to save Moses to be the Deliverer, but it seemed a bit far-fetched (to me) that they both just accepted Moses into their family without wondering about his origins.
    • In the original story, Pharaoh's daughter (exchanged with the queen in this film) knew perfectly well that Moses was a Hebrew boy. Maybe they were aware here too, but chose to chalk him off as an exception, figuring that one survivor couldn't hurt and raising him away from the Hebrews might do him some good.
      • There was no reason to not make an exception... the purge wasn't a punishment to the Hebrews for anything they'd done, or a command from their gods... it was just population control, of the slaves. A single Hebrew who was going to be raised as a non-slave anyway didn't matter at all to what was being done.
    • Given the dangerous trip that Moses takes down the Nile and the fact that he floated up to the Queen's little dock/pier, she likely took it as a sign from the gods. They had sent them a Hebrew boy as their own, which was probably interpreted as a sign that the gods approved of the massacre and Moses was a symbol of the Egyptians having been giving the Hebrews as their own.
    • One little-known detail lost on modern folk is that in addition to this being the then-current pharaoh's daughter rather than his wife, the "bathing" she was doing was likely a fertility ritual for a princess just arriving at puberty. "When the gods send you a blessing" indeed.

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