DreamWorks’s Prince of Egypt was released in theaters in 1998, a movie based on the Exodus Bible story of Moses. Moses leading his people out of Egypt was probably the most important story in the Old Testament of the Bible; a story when the Jews realized who they were and understood the God they were following. This movie fairly accurate depicts the Exodus story in the bible, but has subtle differences.
One of the first major changes the movie made from the Scripture was that Seti’s wife, not the daughter of the pharaoh like in the bible,
pulled Moses from the basket. But as a matter of fact, it wouldn’t have been that weird if Pharaoh were actually married to his daughter. In class, we focused on one of the most famous female Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt- Hatshepsut. And she indeed was actually married to her half-brother, so it was not uncommon for people to marry within families.
The oppression of the Jews in Egypt is a significant part of the story. The movie does a great job depicting the harsh ways the slaves were treated. In Exodus 1:13-14, the Bible reads, “So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage— in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” The movie shows scenes of slaves, old and young, being worked to the bone and constantly being whipped. When Moses was a royal
in the beginning of the movie, he did not seem to care about the slaves’ freedom or the way they were treated. This all changed when Moses learned he was Hebrew and started following God. Moses delivering the children of Israel from Egypt is one of the most prominent examples of God supporting the slaves and their freedom and is often compared to when black people were in slavery. In an article we read in class, Cone writes, “Just as God delivered the Children of Israel from Egyptian slavery, drowning Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, he will also deliver black people from American slavery”. The slavery shown in the movie, and written in Exodus, gave these people faith in God that he will also free them like he freed the Egyptians with Moses. This story was a driving force in many people’s faith to escape from slavery.
The movie also portrayed how Moses killed the slave in the movie than from the Bible differently. In the movie, it was shown as an accident, while as in Exodus, it was something he did purposely. In Exodus 2:11-14, Moses feels angry that someone is smiting one of his own (a Hebrew), but he is also afraid of the consequences and even ashamed. After he kills the Egyptian, he even hides his body so no one will find out. Once confronted about it, he flees and then “finds himself”. In the bible, we see conflicted feelings from Moses-that he wants to defend his people, but he is also ashamed by it. In the movie, he willingly flees after killing the taskmaster accidentally. The movie shows Moses’ guilt of him killing someone and having conflicted feelings, but not really anything to be ashamed of.
Not only was the Hebrew God mentioned in the movie, but the royals gods, the religion of the Pharaoh, also played a role in the movie. Ramses’ priests put on a little show about their Gods during Moses’ first visit with Pharaoh requesting that he let his people go. The way DreamWorks depicted the royals’
religion almost made it seem like a joke. The priests were not taken seriously and it was evident that they themselves did not believe in these gods. Putting on the show for everyone and the Pharaoh was more important. When Moses turned the sea into blood, Ramses asked his priests to prove to him that their gods did the same thing as Moses’s God. So the priests took a bowl of water and instead of trusting their gods to turn that water into blood, they splashed some of the Red Sea’s blood into the bowl. Their religion was clearly something they only viewed as a job to Pharaoh since they did not even have faith in their god to perform this miracle.
This movie did an overall excellent job of portraying the Exodus story of Moses. It is evident that the creators of the film put in the effort to make this fairly historically accurate and it was enjoyable to watch.