As we commemorate the Lenten season, let us look back at the life of one of the most prominent biblical figures through this great animated motion picture.
The Prince of Egypt is released in 1998 and is the first traditionally animated film produced by DreamWorks Animation. It is directed by Brenda Chapman, Simon Wells and Steve Hickner, and features the voices of Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Stewart, and Steve Martin.
The movie is an adaptation of the Book of Exodus which follows the life of Moses from being a prince of Egypt to being the deliverer of the Hebrews out of Egypt. In the beginning, a Hebrew slave, after seeing other mothers’ baby being taken away from them as ordered by the Pharaoh, places her son on a basket and leaves him afloat on the Nile. As fate dictates, Queen Tuya of Egypt sees the baby, then adopts him and names him Moses. Moses grows up as royalty of Egypt, alongside his foster-brother Rameses. One day, Moses encounters his true sister Miriam who tells him the whole truth about his past. Then the next day, he accidentally kills an Egyptian guard who is mistreating an old slave. Ashamed and confused with what has happened to him, Moses runs away in exile. But years later, he comes back as God tells him so … With the promise of freedom for the Hebrew slaves… With the hope of deliverance for his people… Even if he must go against the family he has known…
The Prince of Egypt is a huge phenomenal hit way back 1998, and though it is DreamWorks’ first animated film, it is very comparable to Disney’s creations (or way even better). The computer animation was brilliantly done as audience can sense and feel the visions they have of the vast deserts, Egyptian monuments, and chariot race. Environment factors like the blowing wind, rainwater and desert dusts are meticulously animated that the scenes of the 10 plagues and the most anticipated parting of the Red Sea are effective and feel so real to the audience. Moreover, the movie successfully made Moses more humanly, more believable, and closer to the viewers.
Aside from the spectacular visuals, the film also has wonderful music. The song “When You Believe” was nominated as best original song at the Golden Globe Awards and won it at the Academy Awards. The pop version, performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, was one of the best songs of the last century according to MTV.
The Prince of Egypt hit box office and remained as the highest grossing non-Disney traditionally animated film until 2007, when it was out-grossed by The Simpsons Movie. It also received generally positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a positive rating of 79% while Metacritic give an average score of 64.
The film is an old animated classic but certainly an excellent one. I will The Prince of Egypt four and a half stars out of five. Though, I find the animation (that was 1998!) and the overall production magnificent, the film is partly dark, over serious and lacks humor.