A few months ago, one of my dear friends found out I never saw The Prince of Egypt. He was so flabbergasted that he instantly introduced it to me, which I’m glad he did!
This miraculous 90’s gem won me over by how true and detailed it was in documenting the general concept of the events told in Exodus. I most want to complement how directors Brenda Chapman (Brave), Steve Hickner (Bee Movie), and Simon Wells (Balto) define depth in each artful frame, desert terrains varied in appearance over Moses’ relative insignificance. Once he turns the 4,258-mile-long Nile River, Osiris’ blood vessel, into blood, purpose continually stems out of God above Egypt's growing empire through the massive visuals until a colossal whale shark fills up the parted Red Sea for a grand finale. Once it’s over, these efforts have successfully conveyed Yahweh’s theocratic reign in an approach beyond whatever we can fathom, as all done by animators!
The sun-beamed visual elements are powerful enough to cut Heqet’s ugly head off her shoulders, including some beautiful animated fresco art about Egypt’s attempts to undo God’s work. The elements’ details go even deeper: when Moses strikes the Nile River with his staff, a clean bloodless ring forms around him, displaying God’s protection of His people.
Another one of my close friends, an animation scholar, also expresses much love toward DreamWorks’ biblical movies because of the characters’ perfect body language. I too could see everyone’s deep mannerisms weighed down by Egypt's power compared against their own personal endeavors. Inside a single frame, particularly during Moses’ first encounter with God in the burning bush, a brilliant steady change in his awed reactions progress into discouraged self-doubt.
But the animation still shows its age as these animators’ CGI implementation overwhelms the miraculous hand drawn animation. Particularly in Moses and Rameses’ early chariot race, the uncanny CGI looks quite distracting without any laws of physics. DreamWorks’ visual effects crew honestly had no excuse to boast in service of their now obsolete technology god.
In fact, the entire adaptation process leans more upon American tendencies in storytelling: spectacle rather than accuracy. Therefore, Jews and Christians alike may disapprove of the disrespectful creative liberties DreamWorks inconsiderately implemented:
- Moses looks way younger than in his eighties like described in the book of Exodus.
- Aaron stands not by Moses’ side to recompense his speech impediment, but in the sidelines, complaining alongside his sister.
- The seventh plague upon Egypt, hail, is substituted for falling fire.
- Out at the Red Sea, God’s pillar of fire used to guide Israel comes in too late, and just to hold back the Egyptians.
Yet thanks to the clear passion by the creative team, constant discouragement by Egypt’s rage still stirs up the viewers’ hope to see righteousness amongst the Lord’s chosen people. It pays off emotionally by the end since beforehand, intense hatred stirs up from Egypt’s whips harnessed against Israel. Though once plague number ten hits Egypt, the terrifying near silence from a gasping eerie angel of death swoops across each household. Then the best scene happens afterwards in Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh; its lighting and blocking coordinated together, its artistry breathes in full perfection as it downgrades our sinful humanity, especially on Moses’ part; which transitions right into an ecstatic Academy Award winning song, “When You Believe.”
I think it’s wonderful—some Biblical adaptations, although inaccurate, still capture the might explained in the text that makes you feel small yet empowered. Ultimately, you don’t have to be a Christian or a Jew to experience the Lord’s power that DreamWorks gladly recreated for years to come.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Hill, Jenny. “Religion in Ancient Egypt: The Gods and Goddesses.” Ancient Egypt Online. 2010. Web. <http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/set.html>.
Jackson, Wayne. “Prince of Egypt — The Movie.” Christian Courier. Christian Courier Publications. Web. <https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/39-prince-of-egypt-the-movie>.
Life Application Study Bible. Zondervan, 2011.
Siver, Brenna. “Prince of Egypt, 1998; DreamWorks.” Digital image. Cosgrrrl. Medium, 1 Nov 2017. Web. <https://cosgrrrl.com/5-reasons-the-prince-of-egypt-is-one-of-the-best-bible-movies-ever-d06cc1747a6b>.
Von Tunzelmann, Alex. “The Prince of Egypt: a bratty Moses in a whale of a tale.” The Guardian. Media Limited, 17 Dec 2009. Web. <https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/dec/17/prince-of-egypt-reel-history>.
“Yahweh Versus the Gods of Egypt.” Knowing the Bible. Web. <https://www.knowingthebible.net/yahweh-versus-the-gods-of-egypt>.