Thursday, April 9, 2015

Prince of Egypt

In the spirit of Passover, I watched the award-winning animated film The Prince of Egypt, a Dreamworks production released in 1998. The premise of the film is in Ancient Egyptian time when Hebrews were enslaved under Pharoah's rule. The story follows the biblical figure Moses, a Hebrew who is adopted as an Egyptian prince when the Pharaoh Seti orders all the Hebrew male babies to be executed. According the the book of Exodus, baby Moses's mother places him in a basket and sends him down the Nile River in the hopes that a non-Hebrew family will find and take care of him. In the film, Pharoah's wife adopts Moses, who then becomes a brother to older Rameses, who is next in line to be Pharaoh. Fast-forward to when they are adults, Moses learns that he is a Hebrew and defends one of the slaves while they are whipped, and accidentally kills a guard.
He flees Egypt to Midian, where God "speaks" to him via a burning bush, telling him to return to Egypt to free the Hebrew slaves. He does so and Rameses refuses, so he unleashes ten plagues on all of Egypt. Rameses refuses every time until after the last plague, death of the first born. He angrily tells Moses they can all go, and that is when Moses and all the Hebrews cross the Red Sea. Rameses changes his mind and chases after them with the guards but the Red Sea crashes down on them. The film ends with them making it to the Holy Land, getting the commandments, and celebrating! Overall, the movie is pretty accurate to the biblical story of Exodus, and does not stray too far to make the story interesting.

Moses marrying Tzipporah, his wife.
Animation is only half of what goes into this film- the film so high quality because the actors' voices fit the characters so well. It features a star-studded cast of talented actors such as Val Kilmer (Moses/God), Ralph Fiennes (Rameses, who becomes Pharaoh) Michelle Pfeiffer (Tzipporah, a Midian woman whom Moses marries) and Sandra Bullock (Miriam, Moses' sister). Other prominent actors include Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, and Martin Short.

Prince of Egypt is wonderful for a variety of reasons. There are a number of really lovely songs, including "When You Believe", which earned the movie an Oscar for best original song.

I also really enjoy this film because it is overall very artistic; each frame is very detailed and colorful!
Moses' mother places him in a basket to be sent down the nile while Aaron and Miriam look on in the background. Very nice depth of field, and nice use of colors.
Pharaoh reprimands Moses and Rameses. The large statue head is a reflection of Pharaoh's extreme power over Egypt.
Interesting frame composition; Moses leading the Hebrews through the two statues symbolizes his pride for being a Hebrew coming between his relationship with his brother Rameses.
The scene where Moses sends the plagues onto Egypt is especially good; the lighting is very dramatic, and there is a lot of screen area movement that shows the entire landscape. The song is also very ominous and scary, so the element of sound really enhances the fear depicted in the scene. This scene is where Pharaoh's stubbornness is shown most because his people are suffering so but he won't let the Hebrew slaves go. It is a turning point in the film, and very effective. Watch the clip below to see what I mean!

Prince of Egypt is streaming on Netflix, check it out!

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