My opinion right after watching the movie
Well, I do now understand why this film has the reputation it has; it is pretty good. The characters are likable, a kickass soundtrack, and a solid story, but…………….. It never takes a breather. It is pretty faithful to the biblical tale, and thank The Lord it has no pop-culture references And is easily the ballsiest movie in the canon.
Jeffrey Katzenberg has always wanted to make an adaptation of The Ten Commandments and when he suggested to Michael Eisner, he refused, so when he created DreamWorks, it was the first (originally) on the list. It was created through the story process. scene by scene (I do not know much of this, so I will not be going in detail about it). Apparently, it helped them edit scenes and stuff before the actual production began. The voice actors recorded their lines by themselves (no other actors), and was supervised by one of the three directors. Since the film obviously takes things from the bibles, they decided to call in biblical and Muslim theologians, which they appreciated to keep it pretty accurate (unlike Pocahontas). When it came to the character designs, designers, they gave them a more realistic design, and stayed away from the Disney style. A group of artists, art directors Kathy Altieri, Richard Chavez and Production Designer Darek Gogol went on a two-week trip to Egypt to study the architecture. The task of creating God’s voice was given to Lon Bender and the team working with the film’s music composer, Hans Zimmer. The challenge with that voice was to try to evolve it into something that had not been heard before.”, and they wanted the voice of God to sound like one that we hear in our heads. Katzenberg got composers and lyrics who worked for Disney Hanz Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz.
The film opens to the song “Deliver Us”, which shows a genocide against Hebrew babies so their will not be a takeover, but Youcheved (Ofra Haza) put Moses in a basket and put it on a river, so his life can be saved.
Miriam (Sandra Bullock, Eden Ridgel; child) follows her brother along the trails of the river, and watches him get taken by Queen Tuya (Helen Mirren), and hopes they meet again. The song is brilliant, and is a great intro. It reminds me of “The Bells of Notre Dame” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.
Anyways, twenty years later, Moses (Val Kilmer) and his foster brother Ramses (Ralph Fienns) are racing one another on horses, and lets just say the temple is turned upside down by it. I have to say that the relationship between Moses and Ramses is brilliant. They act like actual brothers, and their dialogue together is wonderful.
Their father the Phraroh Seti (Patrick Stewart) lectures them (more so Ramses) about the mess even though it was more Moses’ fault, since it was his idea. The Pharaoh is more mad at Ramses because he is going to fill in his shoes, and possibly because he is actually the Pharaoh’s son. This shows he has no expectations of Moses.
After the brothers pull off another prank, Moses tells him that they are late to the banquet and that no one would notice, but when they show up, everyone notices and their mother tells Ramses that he was just named Prince Regent. The Pharaoh tells the priests to give them their present. They practically gave him Tzipporah (Michelle Pfieffer) as a concubine that they kidnapped. As she almost bites him, he gives her to Moses, who humiliates her.
He goes to her chambers to either apologize, have sex, or both, but he soon finds out that she has escaped. He follows her out of the town, and bumps into his long lost siblings. Miriam tries to tell him about his real family, but he does not listen as he thinks she is a crazy commoner. He leaves, but then remembers a song that she starts to sing.
That night, he has a nightmare about what happened with the Hebrew babies (again, don’t know how he would remember this), and wakes up to confront his father about it. He tells him that it was for the good of the land, which causes him to run off. The next morning, his mother comforts him and tells him that the gods brought him to them. He then goes to wander, and witnesses the Hebrews working like slaves to repair what the two broke. Ramses is in charge of all of this, and Moses asks the man to stop whipping the slave. He tries to pull him off, but the man falls to his death, causing Moses to run away in guilt and shame. Ramses tries to stop him, but it fails.
This ends the first act. This is easily the most enjoyable act in the entire film. From here on out, it gets a lot more serious, and is all about plot,plot, plot. There is going to be no easy moments, and it gets pretty dark.
He travels many miles into the desert and gets rid of his ring and wig to remove any recollection of his life in the palace. He ends up buried in a desert storm. A passing camel bites his hair thinking it is grass and walks away. He sees that the camel has water, and follows it. He saves three little girls (Tzipporah’s sisters) from a group of bandits, and they take him to their village. He somehow ended up in a well, and the girls try to get him Out. Tzipporah sees them doing this and tries to help them, but drops Moses in the well after realizing who he is.
He gets saved and welcomed by her father (Danny Glover), and through a montage/song “The Heaven’s Eyes”, he assimilates in the Hebrew culture, becomes a shepherd and ends up marrying Tzipporah. It is a shame that they did not show more of this part in his life. It is a nice song though. In a morning, he is doing his job as a shepherd, but a sheep wanders into a cave, which leads Moses to God. It (I do not want to assume God as a he or she) tells Moses that it is his duty to free the Hebrews from slavery, and bestows his staff with some pf God’s power. Both Moses and Tzipporah decide to go back to Egypt, and says goodbye to the Midians.
So the married couple return to Egypt where they see that the conditions of the Hebrews are worse than ever. They go to now Pharaoh Ramses, and they greet one another with love. Ramses thinks he is there to return to palace life, but Moses asks him to get him to let the Hebrews go, which he ultimately refuses to do, since he does not want to be “the weak link”. While trying to convince his brother, he shows that he has the power of god through his staff, by turning it into a snake. The priests (Steve Martin and Martin Short) “do the same thing” by using imitations through the song “You’re Playing with the Big Boys Now”.
Because of this, Ramses orders the work of the Hebrews to be doubled, which causes them to be mad at Moses. Even his own brother starts to attack him, since he never cared before. Miriam tells Aaron (Jeff Goldblum) he should be ashamed of himself and that Moses should not give up on them because God listens and responds to him.
As Ramses’ float passes through the river, Moses goes up and yells at him to let his people go. Ramses still refuses and tells the guard to bring him to him, so he can get rid of this Hebrew nonsense, while the guards take out their guns. As they approach him, Moses stays exactly where he was and puts his staff in the water, turning it into blood. This is the first event in the Plagues of Egypt.
For days, eight more of the Plagues of Egypt take place, wreaking havoc on Egypt and its people. Moses feels sickened to inflict such horrors on others, but he feels like it is his duty. The other Plagues of Egypt continues, which only anger the brothers more as the other will not give up and is willing to put so much pain to others. This happens through the effective song “The Plagues”, which shows the animosity building between the two main characters.
Moses goes back to the palace to try to convince Ramses again, who is a miserable wreak. This scene shows how the brothers still care for one another and wishes things could be the way they once were despite all that has happened, but both are determined to get what they want. Ramses’ son says Moses is the one who started everything, causing Ramses to get angry. The next morning, Moses goes through the final Plague of Egypt to kill every first born child.
Ramses tells Moses in sadness and hopelessness that the Hebrews are free, disgusted by him, which leads to the Academy Award winning “When You Believe”, which is about the happiness of the freedom of the Hebrews, as they march out of Egypt. This is a really touching scene and song, that shows the hope and thrill these people have with them. Unbeknownst to any of them, Ramses and his men followed them to surprise attack the Hebrews in anger and inability to accept defeat.
Th Hebrews quickly run from them, but the Egyptians are quickly gaining speed. Moses uses his staff to block the Egyptians with fire, while parting the Red Sea to let the Hebrews through. Ramses’ men are quickly approaching, so Moses uses the staff to wash away all of the guards, but sparing Ramses’ life.
They all embrace one another happily for making it through, but Moses is still saddened because he lost his brother in the process, saying “Goodbye Brother”. The large group of Hebrews settle down in the land, and happily ever after.
I like practically all of the characters in this movie, but…………. most of them are flat and a wasted opportunity. I say this because they focus so much on the story that most of the characters are mere plot points or serve no purpose, though they do have personality. Again, I know this has to do with because they kept it close to the bible.
When it comes to the animation, there was not much information I could find. They did go to Egypt for sketches and inspiration,m and used a specifically realistic style for the characters, but that is it. The animation in this film is beautiful. The backgrounds, character movement and designs, are well done, and so are the special effects. What I do have to say is that there is an overuse of CGI in the film, which can get distracting.
The music is a completely different topic. Stephen Schwartz and Hanz Zimmer were in charge of the soundtrack, and it is brilliant. They kept the Egyptian sound, but added their own twists to it. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey sung the Oscar winning song “When You Believe” in the end credits, which peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100.
The soundtrack did well too, it reached #25 on the Billboard 200, and topped the Top Contemporary Christian chart. The music is extremely well-received.
There are many great songs in this soundtrack. The two most known “Deliver Us” and “When We Believe” have meaningful and bold lyrics with a memorable score; this is in the other songs as well, like “The Heaven’s Eyes” and “You’re Playing with the Bog Boys Now”, but they are not as memorable. All of these songs are unique and good in their own way.
Reception at Release
The Prince of Egypt was released in December 18th, 1988 and was a bigger success than it’s predecessor. It was almost as popular as the films from the Disney Renaissance. It was a critical success, with people praising it’s animation (the mixing of traditional and CGI animation), the fun developed characters, great story, and pushing animated films to bigger boundaries with its adult tone. There was no complaints of it being inaccurate from what I have found. The soundtrack was successful and could compete with some from the Disney Renaissance. Some found that this film was trying to copy Disney and that the film took itself too seriously. The animation was really praised. In the box office, it was second in the box office during its first week, and fell to fourth for the second and third weeks. It grossed $101,413,188 domestically and $117,200,000 internationally, overall grossing $218,613,188, making it a financial success. It covered it’s $70 million budget. The movie was banned in certain places like the Maldives and Malaysia for the depiction in the media of Islamic prophets is forbidden in Islam, and being “insensitive for religious and moral reasons”.
This film did get many nominations; an Academy Award (Won another for Best Song), 4 Annies, and 2 Golden Globe Awards. The one that won was for “When You Believe”
Like Antz, the novelty for this film has worn off and is ignored by the company (I’ll discuss the reasoning for this and the immediate successors of this film soon), but this film is still remembered by the overall audience more than Antz and the other traditionally animated films. It is not considered a DreamWorks classic, being overshadowed by Shrek and the other CGI films. It is the most successful and liked traditionally animated DreamWorks film.
= 33/40 = 83%
- Dreamworks Review: Antz (animatedkid.wordpress.com)
- Dreamworks Review: Introduction (animatedkid.wordpress.com)