The Prince of Egypt
Animation | In English | 98 minutes | 1998
An animated musical drama loosely based on the biblical story of Moses. In ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Seti becomes aware of the alarming increase in the Hebrew slaves toiling in the land. Fearing a rebellion, he orders all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed. Baby Moses is placed in a wicker basket by his mother, who then sets it floating in the Nile, hoping it will be picked up by a compassionate Egyptian. Sure enough, Moses is rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, Queen Tuya, and is adopted by the royal family. What luck! He reaches a high position at the palace and bonds with his adoptive brother, Ramses, heir to the throne of Egypt. Moses, now a young man, slays an Egyptian guard he sees beating a Hebrew slave. When word gets out, Moses is forced to flee. He finds sanctuary in the home of Jethro in Midian, falls in love with Tzipporah, one of Jethro’s daughters, and they marry. While tending Jethro’s sheep, Moses encounters a burning bush and the presence of God, who commands Moses to return to Egypt and free the Hebrew slaves. Moses reluctantly obeys. Through multiple miracles, and tense encounters with his old buddy Ramses, he succeeds. The entire Hebrew population miraculously escape into the Sinai desert, where Moses receives and proclaims to his flock God’s Ten Commandments. Interspersed throughout the story are lovely pop songs by composer Stephen Schwartz.
Val Kilmer (Moses), Patrick Stewart (Pharaoh), Michelle Pfeiffer (Tzipporah) Jeff Goldblum (Aaron), Sandra Bullock (Miriam), and Danny Glover (Jethro).
Why Stream This Film?
Don’t let the Rotten Tomatoes score deter you. This film is a delight. Dreamworks now must make a sequel about the refusal of God to allow Moses to enter the Promised Land because Moses committed a minor infraction.
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus) 79% 79%
- Metacritic Score 64% 64%
Academy Award: Best Original Musical Score. Best Song (“When You Believe”).
Critics Choice Awards: Best Animated Feature.
Golden Globes: Best Original Score and Best Original Song.
Grammy Awards: Best Soundtrack Album.
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What this film proves above all is that animation frees the imagination from the shackles of gravity and reality, and allows a story to soar. If De Mille had seen this film, he would have gone back to the drawing board. This is one of the best-looking animated films ever made.
With only a few apologies to Exodus and Deuteronomy, this animated film is an inspiring translation of one of history’s greatest heroes. It’s a satisfying, ultimately moving study of an ordinary man whose obedience to God was to echo through history.
It’s a wonderful essay on the meaning of freedom and the courage it takes to wrestle it from despots. In a sense, it feels more political and cultural than religious. You don’t see faith systems in opposition so much as idea systems. The movie’s proudest accomplishment is that it revises our version of Moses toward something more immediate and believable, more humanly knowable.
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