Retro Review: ‘Prince of Egypt’
The story of the Exodus is one of the most adapted history. Not only is it a cornerstone to most of the world’s religions, but the tale of Moses standing up to one of the most powerful rulers in the world armed only with faith is compelling no matter what you believe. Cecil B. DeMille famously gave us an epic and star-studded take on the liberation of the Hebrews, and Ridley Scott brought an edgier more controversial take in his own spin; but for my money the best cinematic interpretation of Moses leading the Hebrews to freedom is the animated film, the Prince of Egypt.
If nothing else this picture is absolutely beautiful to look at an army of animators melded the then burgeoning CGI animation with rich cell animation to create a Biblical epic unlike any other. With the art of animation, the only limit is the bounds of the filmmaker’s imagination, so iconic moments from this story; from the plagues to the parting of the Red Sea have never looked better. It is obvious that the animators did their homework, as the land of Egypt looks stunning and famous landmarks are brought to life on the screen.
But this movie is not all eye candy, the reason why this stands among the best faith based flicks of all time is the heart. Most of us grew up hearing the stories of Moses leading the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt, but the Prince of Egypt humanizes his journey like no other picture. You will not find the stoic and faithful hero most films present, rather we see a Moses who is; brash, reluctant; and even cowardly which makes his success that much more meaningful. The driving force of the story is his rivalry with his adopted brother Rameses, as their relationship evolves from one of caring siblings to bitter enemies. Taking a page from DeMille’s playbook, the cast is made up of several stars who give rich performances imbuing their characters with a sense of humanity. Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Golblum, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Michelle Pfeiffer, and others give incredibly heartfelt efforts that shine through onscreen.
This is one of those animated films where everything falls into place perfectly to tell a powerful story about hope and faith in the face of adversity. The Prince of Egypt stands not only as one of the best Biblical epics of all time but also as one of the best animated films ever made.