Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / The Prince of Egypt

Go To

  • Acceptable Targets: The Egyptian gods are portrayed as being fake (though there's a bit of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane ambiguity), and on top of that, as being creepy and sinister. Also their entire civilization, esthetic-wise, with plenty of shots of their toppled statues and ruined temples as the liberated Hebrews march through them. Then again, it would be pretty weird for a work designed to appeal to the members of a specific religion to legitimize the gods of another.
  • Advertisement:
  • All Animation Is Disney: A frequent victim of this perception, more so than DreamWorks' other 2-D animated features, though this might have to do with the fact that it was originally pitched at Disney. In fact, some of the animators used to work at Disney as well.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • From the source. Rameses in The Ten Commandments is more villainous and doesn't care for Moses. In this version, Rameses is raised as being Moses's brother, and acts much more... brotherly to Moses, even hugging him after he came back from his exile.
    • During "the Plagues" Moses sings about all the innocent Egyptians who suffer due to Ramses' stubborness. The Egyptian children undeniably aside, one might argue that none of them were innocent due to all of them relying on the Hebrew slaves (as well as non-Hebrew slaves, if we're getting historical). Though some were more guilty than others considering that this was what they were born into and couldn't change it even if someone had the unusual desire to, and we see quite a few farmers and peasant families suffering along with the Egyptian nobility.
    • Advertisement:
    • Miriam and Aaron. While Miriam's speeches about hope and Aaron's cowardice are hilarious as kids, as many people have noted in the fridge sections, Aaron probably had to constantly apologize or make excuses for his sister in order to save her life. This puts things in a different light, as one could interpret them as Miriam constantly acting out or fighting against the Egyptians, despite Aaron constantly having to humiliate himself with cowardice and make excuses for her and telling her not to do the stuff that, you know, would probably get her killed.
    • The Egyptian gods as well. Are they malevolent? Nonexistent? Less powerful than God? Or simply refusing to help, either as a means of punishment for the Egyptians' crimes or for some entirely different reason that's all their own? This one, at least, is somewhat encouraged by the film itself as a question and left largely up to the viewer to interpret.
  • Advertisement:
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Notably subverted with a vengeance. While still a family film, it pulls little to no punches in depicting things such as Moses' accidental killing of an Egyptian, the destruction of Pharaoh's forces during the Parting of the Red Sea, and especially The Plagues. However, given that it was known to be an animated adaptation of the Book of Exodus, NO ONE expected it to be pretty colors and talking animals, and parents knew full well what to expect when bringing their children to see it. This was - and still is - one of the strongest selling points of this film.
  • Angst Aversion: A rare animated film example because, aside from most of the songs, it shows a surprisingly dark depiction of Moses' life.
  • Award Snub: Lost ALL of its Annie nominations to The Iron Giant (though that's not to say that Giant was undeserving).
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: "Playing With The Big Boys Now" is an overblown musical number with an anticlimatic ending, as God's snake eats the priests' snakes in a fraction of the time the whole song takes. Could be taken as an example of how the Egyptian gods were mostly show compared to Moses with the backing of God.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: See Acceptable Targets. Admit it, you thought the Egyptians architecture and gods looked pretty awesome too, didn't you?
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The movie ends with Moses returning to the children of Israel with the Ten Commandments in hand. Anyone familiar with the story of Moses (or at the very least, the Charlton Heston version) knows what happens next. He smashes the tablets in anger at seeing the Israelites having built the golden calf to worship, and sends the Levites to kill 3000 people. Unless you believe it was the second time around, which is happier, but still pretty bitter. This isn't even the half of it. The group of Hebrews being lead out of slavery toward the hope of the Promised Land? Apart from Joshua, none of them will be allowed entry into it. Their pride, stubbornness, and lack of faith results in them being sentenced to wander in the desert for forty years until that generation dies out. Even Moses will never get to enter it while he's alive, although his bones are eventually buried there.
  • Evil Is Sexy: While downplayed compared to more prominent examples of the trope, Rameses easily qualifies—though it may have more to do with his Egyptian clothing than with being evil. Also, if feeling sympathy for him is a major factor to his sex appeal, then this may be more a case of Draco in Leather Pants.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With The Road to El Dorado.
  • Fanon: Moses finds the burning bush when searching for a sheep that he delivered earlier in "Through Heaven's Eyes". The sheep in question is a white lamb, which many people have interpreted as a subtle clue that it was sent by God Himself to lead Moses to the bush.
  • First Installment Wins: The Direct-to-Video prequel Joseph: King of Dreams, adapting the earlier story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, is much less well-known.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The nightmare that reveals Moses the truth on his heritage, represented by moving carvings on the wall, ends with Moses' carving in an image of a sun disk with rays ending in hands. That particular sun disk is the symbol of Aten, that, in one short-lived Egyptian religion, was the One True God, Creator and Bringer of Life. His similarities with the Hebrew Yahweh have not gone unnoticed by historians, several of them even speculating some of the worship of Aten might have crossed over to them.note 
    • Miriam being portrayed as knowing God's plan to make Moses the deliver of the Hebrews when he's still a baby, while not strictly in the Biblenote , is a popular interpretation of Miriam's character in Jewish tradition. A very popular Jewish belief/story is that Miriam was the sister who followed Moses down the river, and since Exodus states that she was a prophetess in her own right, it's believed that, as a little girl, she knew that God had chosen him to be the deliverer of her people.
    • During the opening Crowd Song, the Hebrew slaves pray, "Elohim, God on High / Can you hear your people cry?" "God on high" has the same number of syllables as and rhymes with "Adonai" (Ah-doh-nye). "Elohim" and "Adonai" are not only both Hebrew names for God, but are frequently invoked side-by-side in ancient Hebrew prayers and songs.
    • The Hebrew song the children sing during "When You Believe" are lyrics from "Mi Chamocha," a song rejoicing God that Miriam and the Hebrews sing in Exodus, and which Jewish synagogues still sing (especially during Passover) to this day.
    • Casting Jeff Goldblum, an actor famous for his stutter, as Aaron—who in the Bible spoke for Moses... because Moses had a stutter.
    • This applies more to the Bible story itself than to the movie in particular, but any Old Testament Biblical scholar will tell you that the Egyptian peasants would've seen each of the twelve plagues as a personal challenge by YHWH to one of their own gods. For example the plague of boils would be seen as a challenge to Sobek, the god of medicine, and the three days of darkness a challenge to Ra, god of sunlight. The fact that none of their many gods were able to undo what the Hebrews' single God had wrought would've sent a very clear message to them.
  • He Really Can Act: A variation. Who would've ever thought Ralph Fiennes could actually sing?
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie: Rameses. He may have some good sides, but his ego and actions against the Israelites outweigh the pros, and the great suffering he endures is brought on himself by his fatal flaws.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Moses slowly backing away from Seti in horror has become a very popular reaction gif. In applicable moments, fans have also been known to reverse it so that Moses walks into Seti's embrace, shaking his head in disgust all the while.
    • 'All I Ever Wanted' - listen to the song after the release of Thor and The Avengers and given the subsequent Lokification of the internet, and you'll realize that if you replace the word 'Egypt' with 'Asgard', the whole song could be about Loki. The fans noticed. Boy, did they notice.
    • Letmanote 
  • Misaimed Marketing:
    • The trailers and tie-in media try to show that it is a generic Biblical film, more "epic" than anything else, when it is actually darker and more intense than they know.
    • The DVD cover shows Moses only in his Egyptian prince garb and no other Hebrew characters, while the summary carefully avoids any mention of God or the characters' names and tries its best to hide the fact that the film tells a Bible story. In addition, the presence of the chariot race scene on the cover gives the impression that the climax is a chariot race between an Egyptian prince and his rival.
  • Mondegreen: At the beginning of "The Plagues", the whispered chants of "thus saith the Lord" is sometimes misheard as "no longer safe", which also fits the tone of the song.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Seti crosses this when he tries to rationalize slaughtering all the Hebrew babies, starting off with the line: "Oh, my son, they were only slaves." It's this that causes Moses (and the audience) to lose any possible respect for him. The worst part is he actually thought it would make Moses feel better.
    • Rameses sees the deaths of the firstborns as this for Moses, though it was hardly his doing, as it isn't until after the 10th plague that he actually attacks the Hebrews.
    • It could be argued that Rameses himself crosses it when he declares genocide on the Hebrews during the ninth plague:
    • And if he didn't cross it then, he certainly does when he actually attempts to carry out this genocide at the Red Sea during the film's climax. There are hundreds upon hundreds of innocent men, women and children among the Hebrews, and Ramses' command to his soldiers is "Kill them! Kill ALL of them!" To be fair to him, he's in the middle of a massive Villainous Breakdown and Revenge Before Reason after the death of his son.
  • Narm:
    • Near the end of Moses' nightmare (which is genuinely terrifying), when he sees Yocheved watching his basket float down the river, she puts her head in her hand. It's supposed to show her grieving, but it looks more like she's doing a facepalm.
    • Coupled with the dramatic music from that part of "Deliver Us", young Miriam's expression as she wades further out into the river as Moses' cradle drifts towards an Egyptian barge is rather silly.
  • Nausea Fuel: The hordes of insects and frogs during "The Plagues", particularly the shots of dozens of tiny bugs coming out of a loaf of bread, swarming from a goblet that Hotep was about to drink from, and crawling all over one unfortunate Egyptian in his sleep.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • This wasn't the first adaptation of the Exodus to portray the Egyptians and Hebrews as looking Middle Eastern nor the first to have Moses and the Pharaoh of the Exodus be childhood friends. Both of those go to the Moses episode of Testament: The Bible in Animation. The portrayal of Seti with his "They were only slaves" line draws comparisons to the episode "Rameses", where he asserts that a Pharaoh must be just to Egyptians only.
    • Having the Priests be fakes was previously seen in the 1995 film Moses, celebrated at the time as the most faithful screen adaptation of the Exodus, where, just for one example, a priest throws down a staff and another kicks over a basket containing a cobra that is near the staff.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Jethro, who manages to get a truly amazing song out of it.
    • Yocheved. She's only there for the first few minutes of the movie, but by God is she memorable.
    • Everything about the Angel of Death is utterly terrifying, and it's present in the film for less than 2 minutes.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: As an adaptation of the Exodus, it of course ends with the implication that the hebrews end up in Canaan, the land promised to Abraham. There's a bit of problem with that. Canaan was actually part of the Egyptian empire during the time of Rameses II, having been actually conquered by Seti I, his father. To make matters even worse, Rameses II would eventually lead several military expeditions into the Levant and march to Canaan itself.
  • Popularity Polynomial:
    • A textbook case, starting off as quite successful, then largely vanishing off the face of the Earth. Between its appearance on Netflix, and a more positive reevaluation of Dreamworks animation following films like How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda, its fanbase seems to grow every day.
    • Several positive reviews/mentions by The Nostalgia Critic have also done wonders in helping people [re]discover this movie.
  • Retroactive Recognition: "My father's the high priest of Midian!" Or the Beeper King.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Hotep and Huy, who are the only characters in the movie who come across as cartoony rather than just animated. As a result, they're widely hated for clashing with the movie's tone, much like the gargoyles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. (At least they don't get near so much screentime as the gargoyles do.)
    • Many were disappointed by the film's portrayal of Aaron, whose depiction as a cowardly and generally useless tagalong is a far cry from the original biblical tale where he acted as Moses' spokesperson before the Pharaoh (as Moses spoke with a stutter).
  • Signature Scene:
    • The playful chariot race between Moses and Rameses, which establishes right away how different the brotherly relationship is going to be in this film compared to how it was portrayed in The Ten Commandments. The marketing for the film shows it off so much that you could almost swear it was hyping up a movie that was going to revolve around medieval racing.
    • The Parting of the Red Sea, which elicited goosebumps even with non-religious viewers.
  • Signature Song: "When You Believe" is the most well-known soundtrack from the movie, to the point that many who haven't watch the film would likely have heard the song, whether in the radio or even parties and concerts.
    • "The Plagues" is also slowly getting to become known as the most poignant and powerful song of the movie.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • Fell off the map after a rather successful box-office run and Best Original Song Oscar win. Later, the film garnered a ton of praise for its unusual take on the Exodus story, its examination of the relationship between Pharaoh and Moses, its music, its animation, and the fact that unlike similar Disney and Don Bluth films of the period that tried to tackle more mature content, it has the courage of its convictions and doesn't sugarcoat what it depicts. The failure of Exodus: Gods and Kings also brought it a lot of attention for being a superior take on the story.
    • In-universe this would apply to Rameses too as, disastrous defeat and loss of Hebrew slaves aside, his accomplishments and conquests after those events would eventually make him one of the greatest and most successful Pharaohs in Egypt's history, never becoming the weakest link he so much feared. This arguably makes it even more tragic, considering that so much suffering and death could have been avoided altogether hadn't his fear of being the weak link clouded his judgement.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The Pillar of Fire and the parting of the Red Sea easily rival anything seen in live-action films, and God, in the form of the Burning Bush, still looks amazing.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: It's an animated take on the events in Egypt as told in the Bible, including the slaying of the firstborn sons. You don't see that often in a kids' movie. At the time, its PG rating was unusual for a Western animated feature that wasn't clearly intended for adults only. Even The Hunchback of Notre Dame went out with a G.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: