Nearly every biblical film is ambitious, creating pictures to go with some of the most famous and sacred stories in the Western world. DreamWorks' first animated film was the vision of executive producer Jeffrey Katzenber... more »g after his ugly split from Disney, where he had been acknowledged as a key architect in that studio's rebirth (The Little Mermaid, etc.). His first film for the company he helped create was a huge, challenging project without a single toy or merchandising tie-in, the backbone du jour of family entertainment in the 1990s. Three directors and 16 writers succeed in carrying out much of Katzenberg's vision. The linear story of Moses is crisply told, and the look of the film is stunning; indeed, no animated film has looked so ready to be placed in the Louvre since Fantasia. Here is an Egypt alive with energetic bustle and pristine buildings. Born a slave and set adrift in the river, Moses (voiced by Val Kilmer) is raised as the son of Pharaoh Seti (Patrick Stewart) and is a fitting rival for his stepbrother Rameses (Ralph Fiennes). When he learns of his roots--in a knockout sequence in which hieroglyphics come alive--he flees to the desert, where he finds his roots and heeds God's calling to free the slaves from Egypt. Katzenberg and his artists are careful to tread lightly on religious boundaries. The film stops at the parting of the Red Sea, only showing the Ten Commandments--without commentary--as the film's coda. Music is a big part (there were three CDs released) and Hans Zimmer's score and Stephen Schwartz's songs work well--in fact the pop-ready, Oscar-winning "When You Believe" is one of the weakest songs. Kids ages 5 and up should be able to handle the referenced violence; the film doesn't shy away from what Egyptians did to their slaves. Perhaps Katzenberg could have aimed lower and made a more successful animated film, but then again, what's a heaven for? --Doug Thomas« less
"This is a beautiful movie and a great DVD. The animation is some of the best ever done. Notice, in particular, the life-like Nile River and Red Sea at the beginning and end of the picture. The chariot race that opens the movie is thrilling and the parting of the Red Sea is breath taking. Frankly, I hesitated to see this because I believed that it would just be "The Ten Commandments" re-visited. However, the creators decided to focus on how the God's edict to "Let my people go" would effect the relationship of the two brothers--Rameses and Moses. This point of view permits the audience to have a strong attachment to both characters and the things that happen to them. Another surprise is that the creators did not tone down or "Hollywoodize" the religious aspects of the story. They realized that the great power of this story is its spiritual element. The DVD "extras" make it well worth the price. In particular, I found the comparison drawings showing the creation of the chariot race to be particularly compelling. The music and songs perfectly compliment the action and are never distracting. Clearly, Disney is not the only studio that can create a great animated film."
Mazel Tov, Katzenberg!
Markarian | 04/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How exactly do you translate the story of Exodus...the story of freedom...into an Animated film...? How did they do it? Rarely have I felt tears at the BEGINNING of a movie...when Y'sheved(Moses' Mother) started to sing her lullaby IN HEBREW, I almost started crying. Since I always prefer animated films to the "real thing", I felt "finally, a perfect film..." Being Jewish and seeing this movie during the month of Pesach(Passover) was literally a religious experience. I was touched. Seeing the people sing Mi'Chamocha as the left Egypt pulled tears from my heart. I was so happy to see the way the film was executed. Don't get me wrong, this is a film for all peoples. But it seems to almost be aimed at the Jewish Community. And I think this movie is better than ANY live action film to date. I could literally hear the Words from the Torah in my mind as I watched. The music was too incredible to describe, the voices a special treat, especially Jeff Goldblum as Aaron. This movie may not be historically acccurate, but it is a well rounded account that has achieved an incredible thing. The Hebrew singing was too much for me, again, I wanted to cry because it was so amazing to see it on the screen, and feel like you are there. L'Chiam, Katzenberg, Dreamworks SKG. Thank you for adding something to the list with The Ten Commandments and Schindler's List and La Vita E Bella (Life is Beautiful). If you have to buy any movie for you or your children, please buy this one. It may be a little violent, but the sheer fact that Dreamworks is not afraid to show what it might have been like is something to applaud. The movie is a masterpiece. Watch it, it is a NEW experience..."
Excellent Film For The Entire Family
K. Fontenot | The Bayou State | 06/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story of Moses is a compelling one. "The Prince of Egypt" manages to meld that story into a very easily digested tale for the whole family. Though some liberties are taken, "Prince" keeps the basic elements of this wonderful tale intact. The only truly noteworthy changes are that Moses confronts Pharoah instead of his biological brother, Aaron, doing most of the talking and Moses and Ramses are raised as brothers by the Pharoah. In the Bible, Moses is raised by Pharoah's daughter, and Aaron plays a larger role in the overall story, doing most of the speaking to Pharoh as a representative of Moses.
With those minor details out of the way, "Prince of Egypt" is one of the best films around for the entire family to watch. It begins with the finding of Moses on the Nile River by Pharoah's wife, then shows him grow up as royalty in Egypt. He and his brother, Ramses, pretty much have full run of the roost. They get into plenty of trouble with each other, and their chariot race sequence is one of the best "chase" scenes in cinematic history. When Moses finds out that he is Hebrew, and that most of his people are slaves to Pharoah, he begins to notice the horrible things happening to his people. He accidentally kills one of Pharoah's guards when he attempts to protect one of the slaves, and, upset, he leaves his home in search of himself. God reveals to him that he is to lead his people out of Egypt, and he must go and tell Pharoah (who, by now, is Ramses) to, "let my people go."
The tale then takes us through the plagues that wreak havoc on Egypt as long as Pharoah refuses to free the Hebrews. The final plague, and definitely the most chilling, is the Passover. This, for those uninformed, is the time when the Angel of Death comes down into Egypt and takes the life of the first born children in every home that is not painted by the blood of a lamb on the door. This sequence was very moving, and the worst part is when the actual Passover has been completed, and the unbelieving families realize what has happened. The finale, the epic parting of the Red Sea, is just as, if not more, moving than the same event in "The Ten Commandments." It ties the characters of Moses and Ramses together in a most painful way. Moses and Ramses share a great love for each other as brothers, but neither can deny their true calling in life. The final moments showing Ramses on the banks of the Red Sea are very moving, and almost brought me to tears.
I've rarely seen an animated feature in which the voice actors have done such a grand job. Val Kilmer is wonderful as Moses, making you feel the pain and joy in his voice. Ralph Fiennes portrays Ramses with plenty of regal flare, but there is a constant hint of grief in his voice. Danny Glover, , Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer and Patrick Stewart are amazing in their respective roles of Jethro, Miriam, Tzipporah, and Seti. Steve Martin and Martin Short are hilariously devious as Pharoah's high priests intent on proving that their gods are much more powerful than Moses' God. The standout of this group, however, is Jeff Goldblum as Aaron. In my opinion, his performance in this limited role is one of the best voice acted roles I've ever witnessed. His character made the film for me, and, other than Ramses, had a strong effect on me as I watched the film unfurl.
The animation in this flick is on par with Disney's giant animated flicks of the last couple of decades, namely "The Lion King." The music is wonderful as well.
In all, this is simply one of the best animated stories ever. I place it well above plenty of Disney's top films, and feel that it deserves much more respect than it has ever received. Well done, SKG, this is a premier piece of animated work. "
Epic animation like no other.
Devlin Tay | Adelaide, Australia | 10/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Prince of Egypt is easily one of my all-time favorite animated features (the other being The Lion King). It is visually stunning, bringing ancient Egypt to life in a way that no other film even comes close. However, the main strength of the film is to take an epic tale that defined a nation and make it relevant to viewers from all cultures everywhere. In less capable hands, Moses might have come across as lifeless as a certain chief of the NRA and about as sympathetic as any number of fire and brimstone prophets found within the pages of the Bible. But The Prince of Egypt turns him into a flesh and blood person, one who feels agony at having to unleash disease and destruction upon the Egyptians and their children in order to fulfil his duty to his people and his God. It is the age old dilemma of whether to take action that is necessary yet appears to be morally ambiguous. It is a theme that is as relevant to Hindus (re: Arjuna agonising before the Battle of Kurukshetra over having to fight and possibly kill his kinsmen in order to fulfil his duty as a warrior and to restore honour to his family in the Mahabharata) as it is to Christians, Hebrews and Muslims. The amazing score by Hans Zimmer only adds to the already impressive qualities of this film. The haunting voice of the late Ofra Haza in "Deliver Us" made me cry - one can almost feel the pain of the mother forced to abandon her baby to the elements. "The Burning Bush" and "The Red Sea" augmented the film's visuals well, making one feel as if one is really in the presence of the Divine. A superb effort, well worth adding to your DVD library."
Rebuttal review for trezku13
S. A. Hildebrand | Longview, Texas United States | 02/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am pleased to offer this review for what I consider to be one of the finest animated films of all time. The review is partially in response to a rather malicious one offered by a reviewer known as trezku13. I felt it necessary to rebut some of this person's inaccurate comments. The movie puts a disclaimer at the beginning to inform the viewer that there are artistic and dramatic licenses taken with the story (a.k.a. whales in the Sea of Reeds). You should be prepared for this when you watch it. If you're watching this with the book of Exodus in your lap, you will see some differences in the two accounts. These changes don't adulterate the message of the story and should not detract from the viewing experience. Some differences to note are:1) Seti's wife finding Moses rather than his daughter (Exodus 2:5),2) The idea that Moses didn't know he was Hebrew and had no contact with his family (Exodus 2:7-11),3) Moses' "accidentally killing the Egyptian rather than deliberately killing him (Exodus 2:12),4) Rameses pleading with Moses to stay in Egypt as opposed to Pharaoh seeking to kill him (Exodus 2:15),5) Any idea of personal rivalry between Pharaoh and Moses,6) Moses speaking by himself before Pharaoh instead of Aaron speaking for him (Exodus 4:14-16),7) An exaggerated role for Zipporah when she is actually hardly mentioned.These changes may seem unnecessary, however they do add intrigue to the narrative and, as before mentioned, do not in any way seriously alter the story.The quality of the music does fall firmly into the realm of opinion. However, as a person who holds a degree in music, and has performed and taught professionally for many years, my professional and personal opinion is that the music is quite wonderful. The comments made by another reviewer make me wonder if this person actually watched this movie. A comment about Steve Martin and Martin Short sounding least like their singing voices is the most absurd because they actually sang their own song. The singing voices are very closely matched to the point that I didn't know until watching the credits that Danny Glover had not sung his own song. A comment was also made about the firstborn sequence. The plague of the firstborn sequence is why this movie gets a PG rating. Focusing on the children dying rather than everyone involved makes sense, because that's the most shocking aspect of the final plague. It is also noteworthy that this tragedy is brought upon Egypt because of Pharaoh's stubbornness, not God's lack of compassion. A comment was also made about the two Egyptian soldiers dropping their staves and joining the Israelites. I found this to be a subtle nuance that demonstrates the serious research that went into the making of this movie. Exodus 9:20 makes it clear that there were Egyptians who feared the Hebrew God; and Exodus 12:38 records that many other people besides Hebrews participated in the exodus. There is no inaccuracy in the movie's depiction.The wonderful music, superb performances by the actors, and breath-taking visual presentation make this a landmark event in animated movies. It has set a standard that all animated movies since have had to live up to.A final note is in regard to the PG rating. This movie is rated PG so as to encourage parents to watch this with their children and guide them through the movie's more mature themes. Please consider this as I highly recommend this movie people of all ages."