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The Prince of Egypt

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The Prince of Egypt - 22/5/2012 7:31:44 PM   


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Joined: 23/8/2011
The Prince of Egypt (1998)

Directed by: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells

Written by: Philip LaZebnik (Screenplay)

Music by: Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz

Starring: Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Ofra Haza

Charting the life of Moses, from his conception to the Ten Commandments, there's a fair amount of biblical material to get through in an hour and a half. Chapman, Hickner and Wells more than deliver.
Like Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Prince of Egypt has some inappropriate religious imagery and deals with some very adult moral issues. A lot of this imagery takes place in the film's best musical numbers which feel like they've been plucked straight from Broadway or the West End.
An epic 8 minute opening sequence, 'Deliver Us' shows the brutal conditions of the slaves as they build the Pharaoh's (Stewart) empire as Moses (Kilmer) is delivered by his mother (Israeli singer Haza) and siblings to his new home with the Pharaoh, his queen (Mirren) and their young son, Ramses (Fiennes).
Later on, a chance meeting with his birth siblings (Bullock and Goldblum) reveals the truth about his childhood and the Pharaoh's involvement in the slaughtering of slave children. Moses sees the sordid past through the 2D etchings on the walls of the palace as they come to life with the 3D animation and Zimmer's score cuts the song 'All I Ever Wanted' short and into a dramatic, marching string arrangement.
After being separated, wed to Tzipporah (Pfeiffer) and having received a message from God through the burning bush, Moses returns to his brother Ramses, now Pharaoh, to ask for the Hebrew people to be set free. When this request is denied, a sequence of plagues ensues. First frogs, then locusts, raining fire etc. Intercut with the shadowed faces of Moses and Ramses singing over each other, 'Let My People Go'. To finish the plagues off, the first born child of every family is smite (including Ramses' son). Without this the sequence may just have been safe enough to warrant a Universal rating, however this is the most disturbing part of the entire film.
Some attempt at rest-bite from the tragedy comes in the form of some uplifting songs such as 'Heaven's Eyes' by Tzipporah's father, Jethro (Glover). However other attempts are far less successful, Steve Martin and Martin Short's high priests Hotep and Huy won't even amuse children with their attempt at comic timing. And the song 'When You Believe', unfortunately also recorded by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, is uplifting but ultimately slushy.
An inventively artistic, beautifully shot animation with some great songs to add momentum to the story. Forget Shrek, if there is a Dreamworks film that gives Disney a run for it's money, it's this one.
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