Considering the fact that the Prince of Egypt (PoE) was made in 1998 and that I’m a major animated movie lover, I watched this movie (followed by Joseph- King of Dreams) well into my early twenties. Mostly, because I didn’t know it existed. Maybe that was a good thing. I’m happy that I got to watch it at an age where I could truly appreciate the emotional, feel-good vibes and artistic creativity that went into the making of the movie. From a creative standpoint, this movie exceeded my expectations. For an animated film, it was far ahead of its time when compared to some of the Disney classics that I grew up around. I watched Exodus God & Kings (EGAK) around the time it was released, however it didn’t have the same impact on me that The Ten Commandments(1956) did. What drew my attention to it was that it had adopted a different manner of recounting the Biblical tale, much the same as Prince of Egypt.
Both movies received harsh criticism for disrupting the true account of the Biblical story. However audiences should be aware that any film made, even ones based on true events, will use creative license in any manner they deem fit. Any film, especially those made on Biblical events should first and foremost be viewed as a creative work of fiction and not the true account because there will always be a certain amount of bias and personal interpretation that goes in its making. Controversial films and the manner in which they are made should be welcomed, because not only do they draw audiences to watch them but tend to make them more aware of the true account, as they open up greater room for debate & discussion. At the end of the day, any person interested in the true version will not solely depend on one movie to influence him but will go back to the true source material for the Exodus story- the Bible.
Both, PoE & EGAK, while being different films in their own right do share quite a few similarities which I will be detailing below.
So Walk like an Egyptian and read on:
Hey Brother, there’s an endless road to rediscover
PoE & EGAK go to great lengths to explore the brother bond between Moses & the Pharaoh. There is no Biblical evidence to suggest that the “step-brothers” were close in any way, but both movies have explored this angle possibly so that audiences will become emotionally invested in the movie.
The PoE chariot racing scene between Rameses & Moses is one of the best scenes of the movie, one of the first to ever suggest that Moses may have had a mischievous personality, while the elder brother Rameses was more of the serious one. And it’s quite possible that everybody watching the movie was probably crying buckets when Rameses offers to cover up for his brother when he realises his brother has committed murder. Forget cover up- he says that a full pardon will be in order.
In EGAK, both brothers seem to have a habit of saving the other- Moses saving Ramesses in battle, Ramesses saving Moses from death and offering him a chance to defend himself by hiding a dagger in his pack before he is exiled. Ironical, since in the Bible, the Pharaoh (he was called Pharaoh, we aren’t certain his name was Rameses/Ramesses) tried to have Moses killed on learning that he had committed murder. The movies play on the brother bond, tugging at the heartstrings in such a manner that at times, you forget that this is a story about God and his people rather than a heart ripping tale of two brothers. The Biblical version states that Moses encountered two Pharaohs during his time and there is no indication that either of these Pharaohs were his “brothers” or that he knew them on an intimate level.
The Pharaoh’s got a heart
In most movies representing a version of Moses, the Pharaoh is the cold-hearted villain with everyone rooting for his misfortune.
But in more ways than one, you find yourself sympathizing with the Pharaoh in both PoE & EGAK since he is portrayed as likeable and struggling to prove himself as a worthy heir to the throne, while at the same time showing genuine love and affection for his baby brother.
Both versions go so far as to show that the events leading to his refusal to let the Hebrews go stemmed not from his pride or stubbornness but from his insecurities of not being good enough. In the Bible, the Pharaoh is portrayed as being more stubborn and hardhearted than insecure and his humane nature isn’t highlighted at all.
Moses had an identity crisis? Shit just got real
So apparently somebody forgot to tell Moses & Rameses/ Ramesses, that Moses was infact (shocker) a Hebrew in PoE & EGAK. Because obviously Hebrews and Egyptians look identical in these versions. I don’t know. I’m trying not to wiggle my eyebrows. Moses also seems to be totally into his Egyptian status and owning it in both versions.
In PoE, Moses learns of his Hebrew identity through a nightmare & Seti confirms it, while in EGAK, his history is revealed by Nun (Joshua’s dad). So because mirrors were unavailable at that time to confirm looks and Moses was too busy playing prankster/ general to bother to sneak a peek in the River Nile, on learning this he goes through a severe identity crisis.
Again, this was probably done to make it more relatable to audiences, since a story tends to hold more value when its character goes through something you go through too- the quest of discovering who you really are. In the Bible, Moses suffers from no such crisis and seems to be perfectly aware of his Hebrew lineage as well as his adoptive status in the Egyptian royal household. He isn’t on any journey to rediscovering himself.
Wait, gasp I’m Hebrew: Mental breakdown in order
In PoE & EGAK, Moses’s internal struggle portrayed in both movies is real. In PoE, Moses has a mini meltdown with Seti and his shame over the murder and his lineage prompts him to run away.
In EGAK, Moses kills two Egyptian guards after learning about his lineage. The information was probably too much for him to handle?
In the Bible, Moses knows that he belongs to two races, one by birth and one by fate and seems to balance both identities. He takes the wisdom and lifestyle given to him by his Egyptian stature in stride but is shown to sympathise with “his people” as well.
My brother’s keeper
PoE & EGAK are the only two films which show the Pharaoh actually trying to save Moses and prevent his death. In PoE, Rameses tells Moses he has the power to wipe the slate clean and begs him to stay.
In EGAK, it’s not the Pharaoh but members of the royal household who want Moses dead; infact Pharaoh slips Moses a dagger to aid him in defending himself when he orders his exile.
In the Bible, Moses flees Egypt because when the Pharaoh learns of the murder he commits, he tries to have him executed. Moses leaves in fear of his life. I admit there are irregularities here, we know there are two Pharaohs during Moses’s time but if the Pharaoh who tried to kill him was the same Pharaoh whose daughter raised Moses in his childhood (this is assumed not confirmed) why would the Pharaoh be trying to kill his adoptive grandson? The conclusion I reach here is maybe it was considered a crime to kill a member of your own house, one that even royals were not exempt from. Questions also arise as to how Moses’s crime for murder goes unpunished by God. I don’t think it goes unpunished as Moses suffers in his own way. When Moses attempts to cover up the murder, the murder is still discovered by both the Hebrews and the Egyptians. Murder is murder in God’s eyes and even murders by a to-be-prophet wasn’t allowed to stay hidden. By being forced into exile, God allowed Moses to face rejection by both the races he belonged to on account of his actions. Furthermore, God brought Moses down from his princely status and taught him humility by making him assume the role of a shepherd. He also let a full 40 years pass before he approached Moses, allowing him time to suffer, repent & heal in equal measure.
As “Royal” as they come
PoE & EGAK chose to highlight what some people forget, that while Moses had the destiny to be a leader of the Hebrews, he was formerly a Prince of Egypt. Adopted, but still a prince in his own right as he was considered to be a gift from the Gods to the royal household.
Which meant that he was partially raised in the royal household and would have been privy to the teachings, customs and lifestyle of that race. It would not be a far-fetched idea that charioteering and swordsmanship was part of his status or that he could have been the trusted general of the Egyptian army.
The Bible does indicate that he grew up in the Egyptian household as part of the royal family and was made familiar in the ways of the Egyptians but does not mention his status or expected duties.
Did I just kill my nephew?
Since PoE & EGAK portray Moses having a close relationship with his brother, he does the will of God, but faces emotional upheaval when witnessing the troubles faced by his former family (Egyptians) and the slow victory of his latter family (Hebrews).
The scene in POE where Moses breaks down and is disturbed after seeing Pharaoh’s son dead presumably had everyone reaching for their tissue boxes because you realize that according to these versions, the death was personal as the Pharaoh’s son would be his adoptive nephew.
In the Bible, we know of two Pharaohs during Moses’s time. The Pharaoh who enslaved the Hebrews and a new Pharaoh who came into power during Moses ‘s time in Midian. There is no indication that Moses personally knew the Pharaoh of the Exodus, as popular fiction would have us believe. Irregularities are present again, since Moses grew up in an Egyptian household, one would assume the next Pharaoh in line was part of the same household, but there is no indication that their paths crossed or that the next Pharaoh in line was the son of the previous Pharaoh and part of the same line or from another royal line altogether.
Prince of Two Peoples
Since PoE & EGAK lay emphasis on his Egyptian status, these two films uniquely give the audience a sense of Moses really having something to lose by way of giving up his royal title. Since Moses was the adoptive son of Pharaoh’s daughter and considered a gift from the Gods, he would be legitimately recognized for his own claim to the throne. Some historical records believe that the Pharaoh’s daughter was the eldest in line to the throne making any children of hers, the rightful heirs to the throne. First in line, for that matter.
The movies tactfully avoid this assumption by making Moses’s claim a close second to the throne, with Rameses/ Ramesses being the older and firstborn son. PoE indicates that Seti has a close relationship with Moses and was loved in the household, while EGAK portrays Moses as the General of the army, a revered & trusted position in the Egyptian royal household.
The Bible indicates that Moses refused to be called the “son of Pharaoh’s daughter” possibly hinting at the fact that he did indeed have a claim to the throne and renounced it. However it is indicated that he did so willingly, without being forced to give up anything by way of coercion and still remained part of the royal household.
And we’re done.
Moses asked the Pharaoh to let his people go.
And now I’m going to have to ask you to let me go.
Moses Cover Image (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj1x04RKc4c)
Moses & Rameses meet again (https://cinefromabove.wordpress.com/exodus-gods-and-kings/)
Exodus Gods & Kings (https://cinefromabove.wordpress.com/exodus-gods-and-kings/)
Happy Rameses (https://ninobaby.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/the-prince-of-egypt/)
Moses & Ramesses smiling (http://largepopcorn–nobutter.blogspot.com/2014/12/exodus-another-biblical-blockbuster.html)
Moses and the Mural (http://personalitycafe.com/guess-type/115077-prince-egypt.html)
Moses in front of Egyptian pyramid (https://peterviney.wordpress.com/film-theatre-reviews/exodus-gods-and-kings/)
Moses & Rameses- respect for prince of egypt (http://www.cornel1801.com/animated/Prince-of-Egypt-1998/2-named-regent.html)
Moses threatens Ramesses (http://beginningandend.com/exodus-gods-and-kings-hollywood-heresy-strikes-again/)
General Moses (http://www.wearemoviegeeks.com/2014/12/exodus-gods-kings-review/)
Moses & Rameses Chariot Race (https://artemisiaastraie.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/thoughts-on-prince-of-egypt/)
Moses & Rameses after the last plague (http://kingofthewilderwest.tumblr.com/post/124411121783/so-i-wanted-to-see-what-you-thought-about-one)
The last plague (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfRs8XDIJYc)
Moses with Dogs (http://weheartit.com/entry/64296300)