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The Prince of Egypt

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The Prince of Egypt
Directed bySimon Wells
Brenda Chapman
Steve Hickner
Screenplay byPhilip LaZebnik
Nicholas Meyer
Based onThe Book of Exodus
Produced byPenney Finkelman Cox
Sandra Rabins
Jeffrey Katzenberg (executive producer)
StarringVal Kilmer
Ralph Fiennes
Michelle Pfeiffer
Sandra Bullock
Jeff Goldblum
Patrick Stewart
Danny Glover
Steve Martin
Martin Short
Edited byNick Fletcher
Music byHans Zimmer
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Release date
  • July 4, 1997 (1997-07-04)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish / Hebrew
Budget$70 million[1]
Box office$218,613,188[1]

The Prince of Egypt is a 1997 American animated musical drama movie made by DreamWorks Animation. It is a movie adaptation for the Book of Exodus. It follows Moses' life from being a prince of Egypt to ultimate destiny about defending the Israelites. The movie was directed by Brenda Chapman, Simon Wells and Steve Hickner. It featured songs written by Stephen Schwartz. The score was composed by Hans Zimmer. The voice cast for the movie had very popular Hollywood actors. During the musical part of the movie, professional singers replaced them for the songs. The exceptions were Michelle Pfeiffer, Ralph Fiennes, Ofra Haza (who sang her song in over seventeen languages for dubbing), Steve Martin and Martin Short.

The movie was nominated for best Original Musical or Comedy Score. The film's success led to the direct-to-video prequel Joseph: King of Dreams (2000)[2] and the development of a stage adaptation. It won Best Original Song at the 1997 Academy Awards for "When You Believe".[3] The song's pop version was performed at the ceremony by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. The song was co-written by Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer. There were additional production by Babyface. The song was nominated for Best Original Song (in a Motion Picture) at the 1997 Golden Globe Awards.[4] It was also nominated for Outstanding Performance of a Song for a Feature Film at the ALMA Awards.

The movie was released on July 4, 1997. It was released on home video on September 2, 1997. The movie gross $218,613,188 worldwide.[1] It became the first animated featured not released by Walt Disney Pictures to gross over $100 million in the United States. This was before, Paramount/Nickelodeon's The Rugrats Movie. The Prince of Egypt became the top grossing non-Disney animated movie until 2000. The movie, Chicken Run, took the number one spot. The movie remains the highest grossing traditionally-animated non-Disney movie until 2007. The movie, The Simpsons Movie, took the number one spot.[5] This is DreamWorks Animation's first movie and only traditionally animated movie to win an Oscar.

In Ancient Egypt, the Hebrews have become slaves and pray to return to the Promised Land ("Deliver Us"). Meanwhile, a female slave called Yocheved and her children, Miriam and Aaron, witness several male infants being ruthlessly taken and butchered by the soldiers of Pharaoh Seti I, who fears that an increase in Hebrew men would culminate in rebellion. Fearing for her own son's safety, she places him in a basket on the Nile. The basket arrives at Pharaoh's palace and Miriam witnesses her brother being taken in by Pharaoh's wife, who names him Moses.

Twenty years later, Moses and his adoptive brother Rameses accidentally destroy a temple while racing their chariots, for which Pharaoh reprimands them. Moses tries to take the blame and tells Pharaoh that Rameses only wanted his approval. At a palace banquet that evening, Pharaoh appoints Rameses as Prince Regent and gives him authority over all the temples in Egypt. Moses is later given Tzipporah, a Midian girl the priests Hotep and Huy captured as a concubine, after she nearly attacks Rameses. Moses ends up humiliating Tzipporah by pushing her into a pool at the palace, and Rameses later appoints him as Royal Chief Architect.

Later that night, Moses helps Tzipporah escape from the palace and, by chance, runs into his siblings Miriam and Aaron. Miriam tries to explain to Moses about his true past, but he refuses to listen and runs back to the palace. He later has a nightmare in which he witnesses several Hebrew infants being thrown in the Nile and later, Seti reveals that he "sacrificed" the Hebrew children, to prevent retaliation. The next day, Moses witnesses an Egyptian overseer whipping an elderly Hebrew slave. He unintentionally kills the guard by pushing him off a scaffolding. Although Rameses pleads with Moses to stay and that he is innocent, Moses bids him farewell, before exiling himself into the desert.

Moses then arrives in the land of the Midianites, a tribe of which Tzipporah is a member. He is welcomed into the tribe by the High Priest and Tzipporah's father Jethro and becomes a part of their community ("Through Heaven's Eyes"). He and Tzipporah later marry. When chasing a stray sheep into a cave, Moses encounters a burning bush. Through this, the voice of God instructs him to return to Egypt and guide the enslaved Hebrews to the Promised Land. He bestows Moses' shepherding staff with his power and promises that He will tell Moses what to say.

Moses and Tzipporah then travel to Egypt and discover that while he was absent, the slaves' treatment has worsened and Pharaoh and his wife have since died, resulting in Rameses taking over. He happily greets Moses. When Moses asks Rameses to free the Hebrews and demonstrates his alliance with God by turning his staff into an Egyptian cobra, Hotep and Huy boastfully recreate this transformation ("Playing With The Big Boys Now"), only to have their snakes eaten by Moses'. Rather than relenting, Rameses doubles the Hebrews' workload. Moses and Tzipporah then encounter Aaron and Miriam, the former berating Moses for not feeling sorry for the years of slavery the Hebrews have endured. Miriam later convinces her brother and the other slaves to trust them. God later inflicts the Ten Plagues on Egypt, however Rameses is undeterred and refuses to give in to Moses' request.

Moses then prepares the Hebrews for the final plague by instructing them to paint their doorposts with lamb's blood. The final plague-the Angel of Death-sweeps through the city, killing the firstborn Egyptians-including Rameses' son-and sparing the Hebrew children. A grief-stricken Rameses then allows Moses and the Hebrews to leave.

The next day, Moses, Aaron, Miriam and Tzipporah along with the other Hebrews leave Egypt and arrive at the Red Sea ("When You Believe"). Rameses and his army then arrive and pursue them, and Moses parts the sea with his staff. The Hebrews are guided safely across and the waters close on the Egyptian army, while Rameses is spared and thrown onto the rocks. Moses then bids his brother a final, emotional farewell, before leading the Hebrews to Mount Sinai, where he receives the Ten Commandments from God.

Voice cast

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Director Brenda Chapman briefly voices Miriam when she sings the lullaby to Moses. The vocal had been recorded for a scratch audio track, which was intended to be replaced later by Sally Dworsky. The track turned out so well that it remained in the film.

Additional voices

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ADR Group

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Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Awards[3] Best Original Musical or Comedy Score Nominated
Best Original Song "When You Believe" Won
Annie Awards[6] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Individual Achievement in Directing Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, and Simon Wells Nominated
Individual Achievement in Storyboarding Lorna Cook (Story supervisor) Nominated
Individual Achievement in Effects Animation Jamie Lloyd (Effects Lead - Burning Bush/Angel of Death) Nominated
Individual Achievement in Voice Acting Ralph Fiennes ("Rameses") Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[4] Best Original Score Nominated
Best Original Song "When You Believe" Nominated

Home media

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Format Release date Studio Previews
VHS September 2, 1997 DreamWorks Home Entertainment
DVD September 2, 1997 DreamWorks Home Entertainment
VHS August 1, 2000 Hallmark/Artisan/Family Home Entertainment
VHS November 25, 2003 Artisan/Family Home Entertainment
DVD February 6, 2007 Lions Gate Home Entertainment
DVD & Blu-ray August 21, 2012 Lionsgate Films
DVD & Blu-ray June 30, 2015 20th Century Fox
DVD & Blu-ray June 5, 2018 (same as the 2012 release) Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray October 16, 2018 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Prince of Egypt (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  2. "Out of Character: The Making of Joseph". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2021-08-22.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Academy Awards, USA: 1997". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "HFPA-Awards search". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
  5. "Highest grossing animated films". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
  6. "Legacy: 22nd Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (1997)". Annie Awards. Retrieved 2009-02-27.

Other websites

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