Everyone knows the story of Moses. It’s one of the most famous stories from the Bible. We all know the tale of how Moses was saved from infanticide by his mother who put him in a basket and set him down the Nile for Seti’s wife to find him and adopt him. We all know the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea and the Ten Commandments.
DreamWorks decided to animate the tale in one of their first full length animated films in 1998. Originally concieved from an idea by former Disney Studio’s head Jeffery Katzenberg and when he formed DreamWorks in 1995, he set the ball rolling. Prince of Egypt includes the voice talents of Val Kilmer as both Moses and God, Michelle Pfiffer as Tizpporah, Moses’ Midianite wife, Sandra Bullock as Moses’ sister Miriam, Ralph Finnes as Ramses, and Jeff Goldblum as Aaron, Moses’ brother.
There’s no denying that the film is beautiful. You could hardly imagine that something this beautiful would come from a fledgling studio. Katzenberg’s Disney influence seemed to have carried over but DreamWorks created an animated style all their own. Where Disney’s creations are all rounded and rosy cheeked, DreamWorks’s animations are all angular and thin. It’s a startling contrast but something that works for the studio and for the film. It’s much easier to imagine the Hebrews as slaves while they’re already drawn disproportiantely skinny.
Another thing I noticed while watching the film was the attention to detail in the backgrounds. Egypt felt like it was the shining beacon on the Nile. It was beautiful and well crafted and painted and it was something the characters inhabited wonderfully. DreamWorks also used a lot of 3D imaging, which is definitely their style. In many of the scenes, most of them dealing with rocks or boulders or the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. I found that they used this much more seamlessly in Prince of Egypt than they had in Anastasia. It was much less noticeable which kept me in the story longer and didn’t distract me.
What did distract me was the Biblical inaccuracies Prince of Egypt presented to the audience. I know, no one goes to an animated film expecting to see a fair amount of accuracy. This was just glaring. Not only do they conveniently cut out the trials and tribulations Moses went through after he parted the Red Sea. They made it seem like everything went a bit hunky dory after they escaped the Egyptians, which wasn’t so.
Prince of Egypt also relegated Aaron to the background when Aaron was just as important as Moses. Aaron was the one who spoke to Pharaoh for Moses and helped Moses deliver the people from Egypt. Aaron and Moses were co-leaders of the people. While that may not seem very important to most people, cutting out important figures certainly doesn’t make for historical accuracy.
The beginning of the film boasts “while artistic and historical license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide”. I mean, yeah, I get that it’s a film made for entertainment but there is a Biblical minefield, but the filmmakers could have made it a little bit more accurate.
Despite that though, I did enjoy the film. I just wish they would’ve been a tiny bit more accurate and a lot less cinematic? If that makes any sense.
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