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Film Review: The Prince of Egypt

Updated on December 23, 2016


In 1998, Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, and Simon Wells released The Prince of Egypt, based on the Book of Exodus. Starring Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Stewart, Danny Glover, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Ofra Haza, the film grossed $218.6 million at the box office.


After the infant Moses is found and adopted by Pharaoh’s family, he grows up and discovers his Hebrew heritage. When he murders an Egyptian slave driver, Moses flees to the desert and is confronted by God who tells him to return to Egypt and persuade his brother, the current Pharaoh, to free the Hebrew slaves.


Though taking quite a few liberties with the original biblical story, The Prince of Egypt is a great film that still remains pretty accurate in its telling. Many of the liberties are found in the film's detailing of the period between Moses’ birth to his exile, namely that he had an incredibly close relationship to his brother and that Moses was the one to kick start Rameses’ sense of responsibility by getting Seti to just give him a chance. However, despite those liberties taken, the film still remains very close to the story found in the Bible, from it detailing that Moses left Egypt because he ran away after killing a slave driver and the burning bush using the exact words found in the Bible to Moses’ staff turning into a snake upon his return and Moses continuing to press Rameses for the release of the Hebrews in the midst of the plagues.

Yet, in spite of the film taking all of these liberties, it presents what it does quite well, which can be seen in the aforementioned relationship Moses and Rameses had as brothers. The two of them get into all sorts of trouble together, including the first scene of young adult Moses where he and Rameses are racing their chariots across the city and taunting each other. Though this relationship is fractured later on in the film, the two of them do reminisce a little bit, laughing about a prank they pulled with the gods’ statues and Rameses stating that Moses may have always got him into trouble, he was also always the one to get him out of trouble. The two of them may share these fond memories, but the events of the film are shown to have broken the bond they had with each other as Rameses doubles down in that exact scene and eventually goes after them following the events of the final plague and his freeing of the Hebrews.

What’s fascinating is the shift of character Rameses has from the first half to the second half of the film. He goes from a fun-loving prince to the strict and harsh pharaoh who keeps cracking down more and more on the Hebrews every time Moses confronts him. This does make sense due to how their father, Seti, acted towards Rameses and viewed the Hebrews. He was emotionally abusive in his raising of Rameses and called him a weak link in the chain of the dynasty. This causes him in the future to refuse to be seen as a weak link and become even harsher than Seti. As for his views of the Hebrews, Seti sees them as only slaves and that the mass murder he committed was just another thing he needed to do. The film presents some good irony in this with Seti being so concerned regarding Rameses' irresponsible behavior that he works to prevent the boy from being the dynasty's weak link. While he mentored Rameses to be a ruler Seti approved of, his harshness as a ruler is what caused the downfall of the dynasty.

5 stars for The Prince of Egypt

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

Academy Awards

  • Best Music, Original Song (For the song "When You Believe")

ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards

  • Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (For the song "When You Believe")

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Animated Film
  • Best Song (For the song "When You Believe")

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Animated Film

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Special Notice (To the 1998 animation features including Antz (1998), A Bug's Life (1998), Mulan (1998) and The Prince of Egypt (1998)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Family Picture
  • Best Music, Original Family Score

Young Artist Awards

  • Best Performance in a Voice Over in a Feature or TV - Best Young Actress
  • Best Family Feature - Animated

Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Original Score - Motion Picture
  • Best Original Song - Motion Picture ("When You Believe")

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
  • Best Music

ALMA Awards

  • Outstanding Performance for a Song for a Feature Film ("When You Believe")

Annie Awards

  • Outstanding Individual Achievement for Effects Animation
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production (Ralph Fiennes)
  • Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature

Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Favorite Song from a Movie (Internet Only) (For the song "When You Believe")

Grammy Awards

  • Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (For the song "The Prince of Egypt (When You Believe)")

International Film Music Critics Awards

  • Best Original Score for an Adventure Film

Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards

  • Best Sound Editing - Animated Feature
  • Best Sound Editing - Music - Animated Feature

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Voice-Over Performance (Ralph Fiennes)
  • Best Family Actor (Ralph Fiennes)
  • Best Family Ensemble
  • Best Music, Original Song (For the song "Deliver Us")
  • Best Music, Original Song (For the song "When You Believe"
  • Best Cinematic Moment (For the parting of the Red Sea sequence)

Online Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Original Score

Golden Satellite Awards

  • Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media
  • Best Original Song ("When You Believe")

The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards

  • Worst Song in a Motion Picture ("When You Believe")


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