tek's rating: ¼

The Prince of Egypt (PG)
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Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 1998. I'm pretty sure I saw it on VHS in 1999, but I didn't really remember anything about it until watching it again on DVD in 2018. It begins with a message about taking artistic and historical liberties with the story of Exodus. Then we see Egyptian guards treating Hebrew slaves quite badly. And a Hebrew woman taking her baby down to the Nile river, accompanied by her older children, Miriam and Aaron. She puts the baby in a basket and sets him adrift on the river, to save his life, since Pharaoh Seti (Patrick Stewart) was having all the Hebrew babies killed. Miriam than follows along the riverbank, and sees the basket found by Seti's wife, Tuya (Helen Mirren).

We then flash forward to when the baby, now named Moses (Val Kilmer), is a young man, having been raised as the son of the Pharaoh, as the younger brother of Rameses II (Ralph Fiennes). The two brothers spend a lot of time goofing off and getting in trouble, with Moses being the instigator. But then Rameses is made Prince Regent, so he has to start acting more responsibly. Also, he is gifted with a newly captured slave named Tzipporah (Michelle Pfeiffer), though Rameses gives her to Moses. Later that night, Moses discovers Tzipporah escaping, and he decides to distract the guards, to help her. He then tails her, and ends up meeting Miriam (Sandra Bullock) and Aaron (Jeff Goldblum). Miriam is well aware that Moses is her brother, and tells him so, but of course Moses doesn't believe her, and Aaron tries to excuse her behavior by saying she's not well. But after Moses returns home, he has a dream that convinces him of the truth. He confronts the Pharaoh, and doesn't really like what he hears. (His adoptive parents and brother still love him, but seem incapable of equating Moses's own humanity with the humanity of the other Hebrews.)

Later, still in shock from what he's learned about his identity, he and Rameses are inspecting a construction project, and Moses can't bear to see his own people being treated so cruelly. This leads to a dramatic incident, which then causes Moses to run away into the desert. He eventually finds Tzipporah's tribe, and is welcomed by them. He becomes a shepherd, and time passes (in montage), and he eventually marries Tzipporah. Then one day, God speaks to him through a burning bush, giving him the mission of leading the Hebrew slaves to freedom. So, he and Tzipporah return to Egypt, where they find that Rameses is now Pharaoh. At first Rameses is happy to see his brother again, but when Moses insists he free the slaves, he refuses. Moses performs a trick with his staff, and then Rameses's high priests of the Egyptian gods, Hotep (Steve Martin) and Huy (Martin Short), do some pretty impressive magic tricks of their own. Later, God sends a series of increasingly devastating plagues (in montage), which still fail to convince Rameses to let the slaves go. Finally, God sends a plague to kill all the Egyptian firstborn children (which personally I think was kind of a dick move), and that finally convinces Rameses... apparently. Well, Moses leads his people out of captivity, but when they get to the Red Sea, Rameses shows up with his whole army, intent on killing everyone. And as I'm sure you know, Moses then parts the sea, so the Hebrews can cross to the other side safely, and once they're on the far shore, the sea waters fall back into place, drowning the Egyptian soldiers.

There. I've spoiled the whole movie for you. But of course, all of this is ancient history, so there's a good chance you knew the story already. TBH, while the major plot points were mostly familiar to me, there were some details (and characters) that weren't so familiar to me, and I couldn't have told you whether they were actually taken from the Bible, or were part of the "artistic license." But in any event, I basically liked the movie. I liked the animation, and the songs (not that I'll remember any of them), and the basic story. There were some things I didn't really like... but those aren't so much problems I have with the movie, as problems I have with the Bible. So, I think the movie would be more enjoyable to people who are more deeply religious (whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim) than it was for me. But it was decent. Definitely more entertaining than most things I've seen that try to adapt Biblical stories into (serious) entertainment.

There's a direct-to-video prequel called "Joseph: King of Dreams," which I haven't seen, and don't have any particular plans to do so.


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