The Prince of Egypt

USA 1998

Reviewed by Leslie Felperin


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Ancient Egypt, biblical times. The Children of Israel, slaves in Egypt, grow restless and sing of a deliverer. To quell their spirits, the Pharaoh Seti orders a cull of their children. An Israelite woman sets her son Moses adrift in the Nile in a rush basket to save his life. He is found and adopted by the Queen and grows up thinking himself a blood-brother of Rameses, the heir to the throne.

Moses meets a slave girl, Miriam, who recognises him as her brother. At first disbelieving, Moses learns she speaks the truth. While intervening on behalf of a slave being whipped, Moses accidentally kills an overseer. He wanders in the desert where he remeets a nomadic shepherd woman, Tzipporah, and her family. Moses and Tzipporah marry. Years later, God, the Deity, tells Moses to go back to Egypt and deliver his people. In Egypt Rameses is now Pharaoh. Moses reveals his birth to Rameses and confronts him about the slaves; to prove the power of God, he turns the Nile to blood. Rameses refuses to free them, and God sends via Moses eight more plagues, but only after the tenth, which kills all the first born of Egypt, does Rameses let the Israelites go.

Moses leads his people out of Egypt. At the Red Sea, God parts it so they can cross. Rameses, having changed his mind, pursues the Israelites with his army, but as soon as all the Israelites are ashore, the sea washes back, wiping out the army. The Israelites wander in the desert until they reach Mount Sinai where Moses brings down to them the Ten Commandments, as writ by God.


Once prominent features on the shoreline of Hollywood and the Italian film industry alike, biblical epics have been all but subsumed under the tide of secular films since the 50s. Back then, they were the ultimate literary adaptations: kudos-winning stories of such impeccable pedigree they justified the expense of producing them, while they could also be guaranteed to make back their money internationally, appealing to America's bible-belt and Australasia's Koran-cape alike. And because of their grand scale, biblical epics were ideal for showcasing new film-making techniques, from colour to widescreen ratios.

So it makes sense for DreamWorks to choose to resurrect the genre in animated form, thus furthering the company's international box-office ambitions and demonstrating its achievements in animation. Given the very different religious sensibilities of today, it also makes sense that DeMille's The Ten Commandments is more of a touchstone for Prince of Egypt than the Bible itself. The sequence when Pharaoh talks to a young Moses at the palace with his monuments behind him is an almost exact reconstruction of a scene from the 1956 film. Animation can even go one better by lining up Seti's profile exactly with the statue in his honour, underscoring the egotism of his project. And while this film pulls back from including the orgiastic golden calf sequence (its outcome presumably too much of a downer for today's audience), one team obviously had a ball pulling together the montage of the ten plagues - even cattle murrain!

Certainly technically-minded cartoon connoisseurs will feel many shivers of admiration on seeing this. It's almost impossible to tell the difference between computer-generated effects (used to produce travelling scenery shots in a chariot race, a wonderful St Elmo's fire-like burning bush sequence and the Red Sea parting) and the more traditional techniques that create the characters. Though the svelte figures are generally less cutsified than those in, say, Mulan, the overall visual methodology isn't markedly different from Disney's. Executive producer Jeffrey Katzenberg was ultimately responsible for the cohesive look of Disney animation from the early 90s, a form-following-function aesthetic that gave each film a distinctive and apt visual signature. He and his team pursue the same strategy here, going for a monumentality that fits the story well and certainly induces some sense of religious awe. Backgrounds dwarf the figures in imposing landscapes, suggesting the scale of this empire and the onerous task of constructing it, but also seeming to mimic a God's-eye view, watching Moses grow up from afar in the palace he shares with his 'brother' Rameses. Where Katzenberg and Co could have been a bit more ambitious is in the use of music. If they really are trying to take the form upmarket and target an all-ages audience, something a little more mature than the usual hokey show-tunes would have been welcome. Perhaps they should have taken a tip from Martin Scorsese, one of the few US film-makers to pursue religious themes in contemporary cinema (The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun) and commissioned a score by Philip Glass.


Penney Finkelman Cox
Sandra Rabins
Philip Lazebnik
Additional Screenplay Material
Nicholas Meyer
Supervising Editor
Nick Fletcher
Production Designer
Darek Gogol
Score Composer
Hans Zimmer
Original Songs
Stephen Schwartz
©DreamWorks LLC
Production Company
DreamWorks LLC
Executive Producer
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Associate Producer
Ron Rocha
Production Supervisors
Animation/Final Line:
Mark Swift
Steve Pegram
Maryann Garger
Scene Planning
Stephen Childers
Robert Crawford
Deirdre Creed
Craig F. Simpson
David Valera
James Williams
Brian Riley
Senior Co-ordinators
Andrew Birch
Bret Babos
Tiffany Powell
Linda Jo
Frederick Lissau
Scene Planning:
Kristen McKittrick
Charlie Kranz
Rick Ziegler
Final Line:
Randy Sefcik
Tim Kinnaird
Mark Tarbox
Kim Mackey
Noel Wolfman
Ross Michael Field
Carrie Wilksen
Sergio Armendariz
Ameane Owens
Colour Models/Visual Development:
Lisa Fuerst-Brosnan
Digital Paint:
Courtney Barron
Brian Faiola
Film Recording:
Kathleen Kelly
Supervising Production Manager
Ken Tsumura
Production Managers
Bill Damaschke
Digital Colour:
Matthew Teevan
Bernadette J. Gallardo
Lisa Kelly
Digital Operations Manager
Barbara McCullough
Post-production Executive
Martin Cohen
Artistic Supervisors
Kelly Asbury
Lorna Cook
Lorenzo Martinez
Paul Lasaine
Ron Lukas
Visual Effects:
Don Paul
Dan Philips
Colour Models:
David Svend Karoll
Stuart Campbell
Animation/Digital/Final Check:
Pat Sito
Shauna Stevens
Digital Paint:
Jill Tudor
Marylata E. Jacob
Leslee Feldman
Costume Designer:
Kelly Kimball
Script Continuity
Adrienne Lusby
ADR Voice Casting
Sandy Holt
Story Artists
Ronnie Del Carmen
James Fujii
Ken Harsha
Todd Kurosawa
Tony Leondis
Mike Ploog
Scott Santoro
Tom Sito
Additional Story
David Bowers
Randy Cartwright
Rebecca Cassady
Paul Fisher
Carole Holliday
Frank Tamura
Colour Models
Alison Flintham
Li René Herman
Eric Kurland
Susan Van Der Horst
Heads of Technology
Rob Hummel
Bill Villarreal
Ruth Scovill
Software Development Lead
Dylan Kohler
Senior Software Developers
Lance Williams
Matthew Arrot
NILE Software Leads
Jim Cracraft
Michael Seales
Gavin Ferris
NILE Software Developers
William Ballew
Paul Burry
Derek A. Chan
B. Dolores Edwards
Luke Evans
Mark Glenny
Jim Leuper
Jacques Rendu
Nathan Wilson
Technology Co-ordinators
Steven Halpape
Jeri Heit
Chris Miller
Maria C. Yaneza
Technology Writers
Richard Morris
Chris Ratner
Julie Dean Smith
Mary-Margaret Stratton
Technology Consultants
Chris Angelli
Brian Brenton
Matt Elson
Barton Gawboy
Jim Reimer
Craig Upson
Graphics Software Lead Developer
Saty Raghavachary
Natural Phenomenon/2D CGI
Patrick Witting
E. Jane Gotts
Character Design
Carter Goodrich
Carlos Grangel
Nicolas Marlet
Additional Character Design:
Pascal Alixe
Peter de Séve
Dan Haskett
Cathy Jones
Emil Simeonov
Kent Melton
Raffaello Vecchione
Visual Development/Design
Barry Atkinson
Luc Desmarchelier
Hani D. El-Masri
Barry Jackson
Craig Mullins
Christian Schellewald
Paul Shardlow
Bruce Zick
Samuel Michlap
Supervising Animators
Older Moses:
Kristof Serrand
Younger Moses:
William Salazar
Older Rameses:
David Brewster
Younger Rameses:
Serguei Kouchnerov
Rodolphe Guenoden
Gary Perkovac
Patrick Mate
Bob Scott
Fabio Lignini
David Brewster
Kristof Serrand
The Camel:
Rick Farmiloe
Rodolphe Guenoden
Jurgen Gross
James Baxter
Arnaud Berthier
Dave B. Boudreau
Emanuela Cozzi
Bruce Ferriz
Lionel Gallat
Maximilian Graenitz
Luis Grané
Steve Horrocks
Jakob Hjort Jensen
Cathy Jones
Fabrice Joubert
Teresa Martin
Simon Otto
Jane Poole
Pedro Ramos
Erik C. Schmidt
Andrea Simonti
Dan Wagner
Eric Walls
Dan Boulos
Paul Jesper
Brad Kuha
Jean-François Rey
Philippe Le Brun
MaryAnn Malcomb
Ken Morrissey
Andy Schmidt
Manuel Almela
Cecile Bender
Antony Gray
Robert Milne
Kent Culotta
CG Crowd Animation
Mark Chavez
Li-Han Chen
Michelle Cowart
Wendy Elwell
Ryan Roberts
Michael Spokas
Mike Ullner
Additional Animation Animators
Claudio Acciari
Cinzia Angelini
Gary Dunn
Jerome Guillard
Ken Hettig
Duncan Marjoribanks
Claire Morrissey
Sylvia Muller
Scott Petersen
Emil Simeonov
Sean Springer
Derek Thompson
Frans Vischer
Kathy Zielinski
Susan Zytka
Final Line Animation Department Lead
Brett Newton
Supervising Character Lead
Brian Clift
Character Leads
Millet Henson
Mariateresa Scarpone
Young Rameses:
Judy Howieson
Kay Sales
Tanja Majerus
Dawn Pearce
Sarah Marsden
Jennie Langley
Caroline Brophy
Mariateresa Scarpone
Irene Parkins
Aurea Terribili
Julia Woolf
Sylviane Burnet
Jennie Langley
Miscellaneous Characters:
Nicola Courtney
Ronan Spelman
Mickey Cassidy
Department Supervisor
Bardel Animation:
Catherine Schoch
Additional Final Line Animation
Fox Animation Studios
Heart of Texas Productions, Inc
Effects 2D Department Lead
Al Holter
Effects Supervising Sequence Lead
Red Sea:
Henry Labounta
Effects Sequence Leads
Chariot Race:
Sean McLaughlin
Leonard F.W. Green
Burning Bush:
Jamie Lloyd
Ed Coffey
Playing with the Big Boys:
Stephen Wood
Doug Ikeler
Rosanna Lyons
Red Sea:
Jeff Howard
Effects Animators
Chariot Race:
Andrew Brownlow
Olivier Malric
David Navarro
Burning Bush:
Esther M. Barr
Lynette Charters
Conánn Fitzpatrick
David Lyons
Paul Teolis
Playing with the Big Boys:
Michael Duhatschek
Jeff Topping
John Huey
Jane Smethurst
Red Sea:
David Allen
Doug Cooper
Hock-Lian Law
Bud Myrick
Moon Seun
Amie Slate
Digital Effects
Chariot Race:
Robert Naudon
Dennis Recchia
Ed Shurla
Pei Zhu
Burning Bush:
Stephen Krauth
Bob Lyss
Red Sea:
Joe Alter
Suzanne Berger
Jonah Hall
Raymond Hetu
Dan Kessler
Rodney J. McFall
Lisa Suzuki
Additional Effects Animation
Brett Hisey
Diann Landau
Raymond Pang
Bob Simmons
Animation/Digital/Final Check
Benjamin Berkman
James Bird
Torien Blackwolf
Bonnie Blough
Laura Craig
Chuck Gefre
Brendan Harris
Rachel Lagdao
Denise Link
James Scholte
Justin Schultz
Colin Sittig
Kathy St. Germain
Claire Williams
Layout Department Head
Mark Mulgrew
Key Layout/Workbook
Clive Hutchings
Douglas Kirk
Armen Melkonian
Marcos Mateu Mestre
Damon O'Beirne
Jean Luc Serrano
CGI Layout
Harald Kraut
Lu Uyen Pham
Layout Artists
Guillaume Bonamy
Eric N. Clark
Mick De Falco
Christophe Lautrette
Benoît Le Pennec
Nol Meyer
Felipe Morell
Julia Woolf
Fedja Jovanovic
Matt Lee
Kate Moo King
Mark Marren
Francisco Mora
Brad Morris
Kenard Pak
Edmund Perryman
Alexandre Puvilland
Ritche Sacilioc
Tim Soman
Blue Sketch
Steven Todd
Steve Albert
Armand Baltazar
Desmond Downes
Thomas Esmeralda
Nathan Fowkes
Bari Greenberg
Tianyi Han
Tang Kheng Heng
Ruben Hickman
Wade Huntsman
Yoriko Ito
Bill Kaufmann
Joty Lam
Kevin Turcotte
Karl Wehrli
Zhaoping Wei
Donald Yatomi
CGI/Digital Background Artists
Carolyn Guske
Robert Lowden
Carolyn Ensle-Rendu
Additional Editor
John Carnochan
Associate Editors
Sim Evan-Jones
Vicki Hiatt
Art Directors
Kathy Altieri
Richard Chavez
Pacific Title/Mirage
Additional Vocals
Ofra Haza
Hebrew Children Performers
Shira Roth
Michel Patrician
Christopher Marquette
Justin Timsit
Boys Choir
Boy Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral
Soloist Boy
Andrew Johnson
Music Conductors
Gavin Greenaway
Harry Gregson-Williams
Rupert Gregson-Williams
Bruce L. Fowler
Ladd McIntosh
Yvonne S. Moriarty
Ethnic Arragements
Jeff Rona
London Music Co-ordinator
Maggie Rodford
Executive in Charge of Music
Todd Homme
Supervising Music Editor
Adam Smalley
Technical Music Advisers
Marc Streitenfeld
Justin Burnett
Music Recorder/Mixer
Alan Meyerson
Music Recording Adviser
Slamm Andrews
"Deliver Us" by Stephen Schwartz, additional arrangements by MartinErskine & Andrew Lippa, performed by Ofra Haza, Eden Riegel; "All I Ever Wanted" by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Amick Byram; "Queen's Reprise" by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Linda Dee Shayne; "Through Heaven's Eyes" by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell; "Playing with the Big Boys" by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Steve Martin, Martin Short; "The Plagues" by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Ralph Fiennes, Amick Byram; "When You Believe" by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, Sally Dworsky; "When You Believe" (from "The Prince of Egypt)" by Stephen Schwartz, with additional music by Babyface, performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey; "I Will Get There" by Diane Warren, performed by Boyz II Men
Sound Design/Supervision
Lon Bender
Wylie Stateman
Additional Audio
Mark Ormandy
Peter Zinda
Matt Colleran
Tom Lalley
Re-recording Mixers
Andy Nelson
Anna Behlmer
Shawn Murphy
Sound Editors
Neil Anderson
Chris Assells
Greg Hainer
Phil Hess
Chris Hogan
Craig Jaeger
Randy Kelly
Tony Lamberti
Pete Lehman
David McMoyler
Brian McPherson
Rick Morris
Curt Schulkey
Mike Wilhoit
Roger Aaron Brown
Hamilton Camp
Louise Chamis
Erin Donovan
Laurie Faso
Ruben Garfias
Nick Jameson
Lauri Johnson
Steve Kramer
Anne Lockhart
Don Maxwell
Randy Montgomery
Michelle Ruff
Doug Stone
Leeza Vinnechenko
Greg Steele
Kelly Oxford
Jim Moriana
Jeff Wilhoit
J.C. Lucas
David Alstadter
Religious Consultants
Everett Fox
Dr Burton Visotzky
Rabbi Stephen Robbins
Shoshanna Gershenzon
Character Voices
Val Kilmer
Ralph Fiennes
Michelle Pfeiffer
Sandra Bullock
Jeff Goldblum
Danny Glover
Patrick Stewart
Helen Mirren
The Queen

Steve Martin
Martin Short
Bobby Motown
Rameses son
Eden Riegel
young Miriam
Ofra Haza
James Avery
Aria Noelle Curzon
Stephanie Sawyer
Francesca Smith
additional voices
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
8,599 feet
98 minutes 53 seconds
In Colour
Prints by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011