Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Prince of Egypt

For my first review: A movie fairly new to me. The Prince of Egypt!


Image Credit to IMDb

This Movie opens with the killing of the babies of Hebrew Slaves, in Egypt. We see our "Hero", (I'll get to why that's in quotations later), Moses, as a baby, being set adrift on the Nile by his mother. She sings a touching lullaby, as he floats downstream. His sister sings a prayer that he be safe, and Moses is found by the Queen. This whole scene gives us plenty of back story, which we need to understand the 'Hero's" past. The songs in this, I'm not a huge fan of. They are often off beat, and sung not-quite-so-on-key.

We skip forward to many years later, where we see Moses, and his older brother, Rameses, racing chariots. They destroy priceless Egyptian architecture, and end up in trouble with their father, the Pharaoh, named Seti. (Seti is voiced by Patrick Stewart, I thought you ought to know) Moses takes the blame, but Seti still scolds Rameses, because he believes that it is important for Rameses to learn some responsibility. Still, Moses convinces Seti to give Rameses a chance. Seti ends up appointing Rameses as the Prince Regent, and Rameses give Moses the position of Royal Chief Architect as thanks. The two priests, Hotep and Huy, (the comic relief... I think?), bring the young woman, Tzipporah, as a gift to Rameses. After a very violent exchange, Rameses gifts her to Moses, and she gets sent to Moses's room. Upon entering his room, Zipporah escapes, leaving Moses with a tied up guard. Nevertheless, Moses helps Zipporah escape. (I sense some foreshadowing/contrast coming up!) Upon doing so, Moses stumbles upon his sister, Miriam, and brother, Aaron. Miriam tells Moses who he really is, and he doesn't believe her, until she sings the lullaby that their mother sang as he was being sent down the river. Somehow, he remembers it, and believes her.

That night, Moses has a beautifully animated dream sequence. Actually, let me talk about the animation for a bit. The animation is gorgeous. I mean it. DreamWorks has almost never let me down, and this is a prefect example of that. The way that the characters move, the tears when they cry. Oh! And the scenery! The scenery is wonderful! The way that they capture Ancient Egypt, at least aesthetically, is just glorious! It brings that ancient wonder to life. And the desert, the waters and seas, the sky, the rocks. All just wonderful.

Okay. tangent over.

Where was I.... Ah! The dream! Moses has a dream about the kidnapping and deaths of the Hebrew slave's babies. The sequence itself is wonderfully designed, with an obvious lean toward Ancient Egyptian art on temple and pyramid walls. This dream shocks Moses, and visits he room with depictions of Pharaohs and the laws that made them great. In that room, is a large portrayal of Seti, ordering the Hebrew babies to be dumped into the Nile. Seti comes and attempts to explain to Moses about how things must be done for the greater good, no matter how awful they seem. However, Seti is very harsh about the Hebrews, and Moses realizes how Seti views them: as inferior beings. This leads Moses to, the next day, push a guard to his death, for whipping a Hebrew slave. While whipping someone is not okay, killing someone is worse. This begins my rants about the "Hero". But the details come later. Rameses says that he can pardon the murder, but Moses says that he can't handle himself. Moses leaves, and begins walking through the desert.

Let me just take a break here, and talk some history. I'm not going to go into the historical accuracy of Biblical figures, because I'll have people all over me. But, I will discuss the historical accuracy of the movie, in the context of: Slavery. The Egyptians didn't keep slaves. Not a single one. The building of the pyramids; done by a paid work force. Warriors; paid work force. Farmers; paid work force. Do you see the pattern? They weren't big fans of slavery. Anyway, moving back to the film.

Moses walks for miles and miles, and eventually reaches the village of the Midianites, where he rescues some girls from some bandits. It turns out that those girls are the sisters of Tzipporah. Moses is welcomed into the tribe, and becomes a Herder. He and Tzipporah get married, he loves his life, has fun, etc. etc. etc.

But one day, as Moses follows a stray sheep, he comes across a cave, with a shimmery light. He enters the cave, and has some spiritual thing with a tree inside the cave. I'm not a big spiritual person, so I won't go into the details. I won't do it justice. In the end, God does some stuff on Moses's staff, and it will "wield his might", or something like that, and gives Moses the mission to free the Hebrews from slavery. Moses goes back to the village, and tells his wife. She decides that she will go with him. they ride off, towards Egypt.

Upon arriving in Egypt, Moses goes to see Rameses. Rameses greets him like a brother, and they embrace. Moses demands that the Hebrews are to be set free, and turns his staff into a snake. Hotep and Huy turn two other staffs into snakes, to prove the might of the Egyptian gods. Moses's snake eats the other two. (It's more of a detail, but I think it's symbolism of some kind?) Ramses pulls Moses aside, and asks him what he was really there for. Moses explains that he is serious, and Ramses decides to double the work load of all of the slaves. I... I don't understand that train of thought. I think it's just to show that Rameses is meant to be the villain. Or something.

WARNING: This next bit is a slight non-sequitur.

Moses is attacked by the slaves, but Miriam stands up for him.
As Rameses passes on the Nile in a boat, Moses turns the water to blood. Hotep and Huy use red dye to make plain water look bloody.

Moses, now quite slightly peeved-ish, sort of, brings multiple plagues upon Egypt. Even the innocents. This is where the "Hero" part comes in. While some people may see Moses as a Hero, saving the Hebrews, I don't. Just from this movie. All of the other stuff I've heard, like Exodus, he seems like he's doing this all, but with regret. The Moses in this movie seems not to care. He doesn't care that he's hurting thousands of innocent people, hard working people: farmers, scholars, boatmen, soldiers.

Then, after Rameses refuses another time to release the Hebrews, Moses makes a threat, to bring the worst plague yet. In front of Rameses's son.

Now, here is where I cried. I cry often during books, movies, shows. I'm a big softie. The thing that saddened me the most is the animation. That's right. The fantastic animation is what made me cry. Why? you ask. I'll answer: The visuals of the plague. The white mist descending on the homes of families. Seeing the children's lives being taken away. Hearing the smashing pot as the child falls to the ground, then seeing his tiny, fragile arm fall limp out of the doorway.

What made me cry the hardest was when Rameses was carrying his son's tiny, limp body to the table, and covered it with the cloth. As I said before, the crying is superbly animated. As Rameses's tears stream down his face, and he cradles his son's dead form, Moses approaches him. Rameses gives the Hebrews permission to leave.

Moses leads the Hebrews to the sea, where they think they are safe. Suddenly, Rameses appears, having followed the Hebrews. You all probably know the story from here. Moses parts the sea, Rameses follows, Egyptians get drowned. (Rameses gets swept up onto a rock.)

Moses leads the Hebrews through the desert. The movie ends as Moses comes down the mountain with the Ten Commandments.

Wow. Just. Wow. This movie was... actually really good. Despite the crying, and the slight historical inaccuracies, the movie holds up. The animations are just phenomenal, and the story gets across. But, a fair warning: the songs are all pretty much awful. Try to focus on the message or visuals of the song, rather than the song itself.

Happy watching! And thank you for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you liked it.even though I have a different opinion on the songs. The review was very well thought out. Keep em coming.