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PRINCE OF EGYPT

SYNOPSIS:
A desperate young Hebrew mother sends her baby off on the Nile in a basket, in the hope of giving him a better life. The basket is washed onto the steps of the royal palace, where the baby is found by the Queen of Egypt (Helen Mirren). She calls him Moses, and adopts him into the royal family as the brother of the Pharaoh Seti's (Patrick Stewart) son, Rameses (Ralph Fiennes). Moses (Val Kilmer) grows up as the younger brother of the man who is destined to become the next Pharaoh. As they grow up, differences also grow between Moses and Rameses, with Rameses driven by his destiny to lead a great nation, and Moses finding himself increasingly uncomfortable as a prince over Hebrew slaves, especially when he discovers the truth about his heritage. After a dramatic confrontation with his inner feelings, Moses runs away from his royal family and lives a humble life as a shepherd – until God orders him to lead the struggle to free his people from slavery under the Egyptians. Defiant, Rameses brings the wrath of God down on his nation, before Moses leads the exodus.

"Extraordinarily moving, The Prince of Egypt is a spectacle, and the pinnacle of achievement in an animated cinematic experience. In fact, at times I was so engrossed, I almost forgot that this was animation. Everything works – from the rousing, majestic score, to the powerful story-telling, effects that dazzle and a superlative cast. Such is the strength of the music that it glues our emotions together in response to the exciting modulations and sheer beauty of the score. Using the screen as a giant canvas on which to explore colour, emotions and drama, the setting is sculptured and moulded, with shapes and forms that boast lots of texture, dimension and character. Water is one of the hardest things to represent in painting; here, animated, it is quite sensational. It shimmers translucently in its still form, yet is dramatically spectacular as the seas divide – in one of the most moving and breathtaking sequences. There's no preaching from this Bible story, just an effective translation of one of the world's best known stories. The attention to detail is awesome – even the expression on the faces of bullocks tell a story. And the characters are vividly brought to life by the voices of a wonderful cast, with Val Kilmer a stand-out as Moses. Essentially this is a human story and we journey down its compelling road with delight. Uplifting, entertaining and quite glorious, Prince of Egypt is simply a great film – it will delight, engage and amaze audiences."
Louise Keller

"This is the story of Moses, the man, not Moses the Biblical ‘figure’. Some of the horrors in the Bible are toned down for family consumption, and the story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt to the promised land is told from a very personal perspective, in this ambitious and largely successful film. Compromises in the story and the overall political and religious context were obviously made, in part to get the film under 90 minutes, at which it is accessible for even youngish children. While some of those compromises in exposition – such as the details of why there are a sequence of plagues destroying Egypt, and the butchering of the firstborn – are understandable, adults may find them problematic omissions, often over simplifying elements that could bear exploration. But the filmmakers set out with their own agendas and objectives, and they have certainly satisfied them. The subject matter is well worthy of exploration, Moses not being a well understood or well defined character, yet so significant in Judeo-Christianity. And the execution of the story is pretty damn impressive, from the parting of the Read Sea (and other, lesser miracles), which comes close to splashing the front row, to the richly detailed settings and definite characterisations. Zimmer’s music is superb, adding to the sensory values of the highly emotional content, and the direction is often bold, using live action camera angles to great effect – for despite its commercial eye on children, it never forgets the enormity of the story of how one man made a difference. With a little help…."
Andrew L. Urban

"One of the major movie events of the year, The Prince of Egypt doesn't disappoint on any level. A truly extraordinary film, full of detail, mesmerising in its epic quality, a rich tableaux of colour, movement and background, Prince of Egypt goes where no animated film has gone before. One of the secrets of a strong film is that it completely envelops the audience in its drama, sense of character and visual depth. All of these elements, and more, make Prince stand apart as dramatic cinema, rather than as another animated film. With its beautiful vocal performances by Ralph Fiennes, perfect as Rameses, and Val Kilmer as Moses, Prince of Egypt is more than just a Biblical drama. It's a story of brotherhood, self-discover and oppression, and though set over 3,000 years ago, the film explores some contemporary issues dealing with the tragedies of Jewish history that have permeated over time. There is an emotional resonance in Prince that one rarely gets from animated cinema, and as spectacular as the film is, there lies within the spectacle, and intrinsic sense of humanity. The Moses-Rameses relationship in this film, is very different from conventional wisdom, and as dramatic storytelling goes, this version is in many ways superior to the 1956 De Mille tale, though of course, this version leaves out much of what happened between the exodus and the bestowing of the Ten Commandments. On a purely technical level, Prince of Egypt is a truly astounding sight to behold. The sequences that one expects to be remarkable, don't disappoint, notably the parting of the Red Sea and burning bush. The sequence during which the final plague kills the Egyptian firstborn, has been shot in an eery sepia tone, almost monochromatic, deftly symbolising death and the inevitable end of an era. Musically, the film has many fine moments, with Hans Zimmer's richly Semitic score providing an emotional centre to the film. On an animation level, Prince of Egypt is a mature and meticulous work, and as drama, it remains a magnificent achievement. What a perfect way to end the year in movies: this is undeniably one of the best films of the year.
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0
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TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

See Andrew L. Urban's INTERVIEW with Sandra Rabins & Richie Chavez

See Paul Fischer's interview with
JEFFREY KATZENBERG

PRINCE OF EGYPT, THE (G)
(US)

CAST: Voices of: Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Sandra Bullock, Danny Glover, Jeff Goldblum, Ofra Kaza, Steve Martin, Michelle Pfeiffer, Martin Short, DIRECTORS: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells

PRODUCER: Penney Finkelman Cox, Sandra Rabins

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Jeffrey Katzenberg

SCRIPT: Philip Lazebnik (story)

EDITOR: Nick Fletcher

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer

ORIGINAL SONGS: Stephen Schwartz

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Darek Gogol

ART DIRECTOR: Richard Chavez

VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: Don Paul, Dan Philips

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: December 26, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: November 12, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: CIC







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