Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Prince of Egypt

The Prince of Egypt; Animated adventure, USA, 1998; D: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells, S: Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum, Sandra Bullock, Patrick Stewart, Danny Glover, Steve Martin, Helen Mirren, Martin Short

Egypt, 1.300 BC. Pharaoh Seti orders that all male Hebrew babies must be drowned, but the basket with the little Moses afloats on the Nile to the Queen, who adopts it. Decades later, Moses grew up with his stepbrother Ramses in complete harmony and doesn't care about the suffering of Hebrew slaves who are building pyramids. During a horse race, they accidentally break a part of the building, but only Ramses gets the blame. From a slave and the Queen, Moses discovers that he himself is Hebrew and thus leaves in the desert. There he saves a nomadic family from outlaws and marries Tzipporah, Jethro's daughter. Then God orders Moses to free the Hebrew people and cause various diseases and catastrophes until Ramses doesn't give in and frees them. Moses brings his peope through the Red sea.

For their first traditionally animated film, the "Dreamworks" company chose a lose adaptation of Biblical story of Exodus, and despite the fact that the reviews were mild at first, with time the project gained a considerable reputation. "The Prince of Egypt" is a wonderful example of what happens when a dusty story full of dry dialogues is revitalized with humor, taste and three-dimensional characters - in one scene, for instance, Moses and Ramses are having a carriage race, and at one instance Ramses find himself on the top of a building and says: "See Moses? I always said you look at me from down!", while he looks at his underpants and responds with: "But it's not a nice sight!" Later on the two of them are throwing balloons filled with soup on Pharaoh's wizards, while a slave tells Ramses that he is getting exactly the respect he deserves: none. Such shrill and alive moments are nowhere to be found in some stiff Bible epics from the 50s and 60s. The voice actors all did a great job (from Val Kilmer in the leading role up to Martin Short and Steve Martin is mall ones) whereas the images and the animation design are also wonderful. The song won an Oscar and was nominated for a Golden Globe.


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