Review: The Prince of Egypt (1998)

By Sean Gardner

The Prince of Egypt explores the biblical story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt lead by Moses. Placed in a basket and cast into the Nile, baby Moses floats his way to the house of Pharaoh. Moses, a Hebrew by birth, was raised alongside Rameses as a prince of Egypt, a member of a royal family. Through a series of dreams and revealing events, Moses is forced out of Egypt. While wandering in the desert and living among nomads, he learns his true calling as the deliverer and leader of the Hebrews.

One of the best parts of this movie is how the filmmakers really take their time to develop the relationship between Moses and Rameses. They are brothers, not by blood, but by upbringing and respect. They start off the film as equals. They run around in chariots, doing whatever they want, destroying temples, showing up late to important ceremonies. Only to laugh about it later after a firm talking to by the Pharaoh. 

However, certain events force them into opposing positions. They end up as rivals leading their respective nations against each other in a war of wills. Moses must do as God commands. Rameses must hold true to the ancient traditions. This pits them against each other but they still treat each other with some kind of pseudo-respect; as if they understand the position of the other and why neither can back down. 

It destroys Moses to see the stubbornness and pride of Rameses. He did not want to send the plagues to destroy his former homeland and see his brother and his people suffer. Moses never has an “I told you so” attitude towards Rameses. There is a point where Moses is so overcome by the hardheadedness of Rameses that all he can do is sink to the ground and weep in solitude. 

The mix of hand drawn and computer generated animation for 1998 was truly revolutionary. The fact that it is animation ironically lends itself to more believable visuals. The Ten Commandments is an epic classic in its own right, but lets be honest, the visuals and special effects have not aged well and by today’s standards look pretty hokey. The animation in The Prince of Egypt has aged well and will continue to stand the test of time.

The Prince of Egypt is one of my favorite animated movies of all time. The cast, the music, the story, the visuals; all are perfect. I highly recommend it to all, not just the religious. The themes transcend religion, ethnicity, or socioeconomic upbringing. It is a story of forgiveness, redemption, finding your place and discovering your purpose.

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