1998; Rated PG; 97 Minutes
Val Kilmer: Moses / God
Ralph Fiennes: Rameses
Michele Pfeiffer: Tzipporah
Sandra Bullock: Miriam
Jeff Goldblum: Aaron
Danny Glover: Jethro
Patrick Stewart: Pharaoh Seti
Helen Mirren: The Queen
Steve Martin: Hotep
Martin Short: Huy
Produced by Penney Finkelman Cox, Jeffrey Katzenberg,
Sandra Rabins and Ron Rocha; Directed by Brenda Chapman,
Steve Hickner and Simon Wells; Screenwritten by Phillip
Lezebnik and Nicholas Meyer
by DAVID KEYES
the biblical landscapes of Egypt, beyond the Pyramids, in
the heart of disaster and in the shadow of God is Dreamworks'
first full-length animated feature "The Prince Of Egypt,"
the story of Moses told through an animated perspective.
Once you touch subject matter like the Bible as the central
plot of a movie, you are either likely to offend religions
or tick off others if you change one part of the material.
The Bible is a sacred piece of literature. Anytime a screen
production adapts any part of it, there's immediate response.
"The Prince Of Egypt" is no normal biblical epic. You can
take two minutes from any part of it, and you know that
the film's executive writers had met with big religious
figures to ensure that they could keep the detail of the
Bible's Exodus book intact, without having to offend other
religions or social groups who believe nothing about the
material. The result of how the story transcends to the
screen both visually and spiritually is a triumph; this
has got to be the most elegant, stunning, and virtually
remarkable achievement in animation. And heck, the story's
film opens on a very progressive note. We see the Hebrews
piling rocks, pushing their weight at the command of Egyptian
whips, building those mysterious pyramids. To this day,
I still don't know how they did it.
the Egyptian empire, under the shadow of their Pharaoh,
is killing young Hebrew infants and capturing others for
slavery. In one scene displaying the love of a mother for
her child, a woman puts her infant in a basket and sends
it floating down the Nile to save its life. Later the basket
is found by Egyptian royalty, and the child is adopted into
the family, which includes another child named Rameses.
step forward a few years. Rameses and his brother (Moses)
are enjoying their royal lives. They have an adolescent
bondage. There's even a point in the movie that displays
their wild relationship, when both compete in a chariot
race through the streets of the Hebrew-enslaved city. The
great shots of both these people moving through the city
at top speed are both breathtaking and overwhelming: sort
of like an Indianapolis 500 race.
but it isn't long when both of them have been split from
their bondage. Under the rule of the evil Pharaoh Seti,
Rameses becomes a regent and Moses soon finds himself married
to a woman named Tzipporah. In those days, wives were the
slaves for man. Thankfully, with Moses' personality, his
wife can escape her 'slavery' without his care.
in the streets of the city, Moses encounters his two natural-born
siblings, Miriam and Aaron, voiced perfectly by Sandra Bullock
and Jeff Goldblum. Once Moses is aware that he is merely
adoptive royalty and actually Hebrew, he turns against the
empire to fight for his people.
battle between Egyptians and Hebrews wages on, and the artists
behind the film get to show us what they're capable of.
Chronicling the escape of Moses' people from the rule of
the new pharaoh Rameses, we get to see all those famous
events that the Bible told us about, including that one
incredible point when Moses steps out into the Red Sea and
parts it so that the Hebrews can go through it. The sequence
that shows the Sea's separation is probably the most brilliant
and stunning thing I have ever seen in the movies. Once
it's over, you know that Disney, for what it's worth, will
finally have some stiff competition in the animation circuit.
brilliant list of characters is cast with a host of Hollywood's
finest actors, including Val Kilmer as Moses, Danny Glover
as Jethro, Michele Pfeiffer as Tzipporah, Ralph Fiennes
as Rameses, and, appropriately, Patrick Stewart as the dark
and cruel Pharaoh Seti. Each seem to be cast according to
the characters that best suit their screen personalities,
and in some ways, if this was live action, the same actors
could probably play those characters.
a lot to love about such a diabolically gorgeous movie,
but one complaint prevents it from being completely "great."
Why doesn't the music have that appeal of the Broadway scores
of "Beauty And The Beast" and "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame?"
There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the style of
the music and score (some of the lyrics are actually spoken
through the Hebrew dialect), so why did I find myself disliking
it so? Usually, after a great score in a movie, I find myself
emerging from the theater with a tune in my head. That didn't
happen here. I think it's just a case of 'unmemorable-music'
that creates the problem.
don't take that as any type of insult. This is a movie that
takes us to places we've never seen before. Literally, it's
the ultimate proof that animation can do anything it wants--the
past, the future, the realms beyond human possibility, and
the places that seem more real than life. As gravity-free
as animation seems and how it is represented in "The Prince
Of Egypt," this genre will continue to move further on into
the future long after some others have been discontinued.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.