Why the Prince of Egypt should be admired as a great biblical film

I am first going to talk about the film Noah (2014) and why this is a prime example of biblical inaccuracy. Right from the beginning, there were fundamental mistakes: Noah (Russell Crowe) was explaining the creation story to his daughters when he said that light was created on the second day. Any reader of the Bible would know that light was created on the fourth day.

The villain in Noah, Tubal-cain, was mostly a fabricated, inaccurate character because there was very little mention of him in the Bible. It is even unknown whether Tubal-Cain was alive during the time of Noah, and there was no mention of him or any other stowaways in the ark (despite him and others being portrayed as this in the film).

Furthermore, there are two inaccuracies about the flood: the way that the flood is revealed to Noah, and where he got his wood from. Let’s address the prior: Noah provides the viewer with an extravagant and somewhat confusing prophecy from God given to Noah through 2 dreams. This in contrast to the Bible where Noah finds out about the flood rather simply, and thus, immediately starts building the Ark.

The second difference is about the materials for the ark: the movie shows Methuselah giving Noah a seed to plant, which eventually turns into a forest. The Bible, however, provides the reader with no information about where the wood was harvested. It’s much more straightforward; God gives Noah specific directions and dimensions from which he can build the ark.

Rather than accurately depicting the story of Noah’s ark, this shows the Hollywood-isation and exaggeration of the Biblical narrative. Perhaps to make a more enthralling film, and thus more money? More than anything, it’s got bad reviews and low ratings because of distorted storylines.

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With this in mind, what makes the Prince of Egypt so great?

Let’s start with the cast. Every single character, the Egyptians, Hebrews –  everyone was a person of colour which is understandable because it is based in the Middle East. Although the voice cast was not Middle Eastern, at least when we see the finished product on the screen, the animations portrayed them as though they were from that area. This shows an attempt to depict the Bible accurately for the viewers. Along with their Middle Eastern features, even the music is based on rhythms used from that area, and some of the songs were actually sung in Hebrew. On the contrary to Noah (2014), as well as Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), both live-action films, where none of the on-screen actors were people of colour – all white.

Ridley Scott said that he couldn’t cast Middle Eastern actors because of lack of funding:

I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.

I think the Prince of Egypt does a better job at representing the people involved, and also the biblical story. The Disney chairman at the time Jeffrey Katzenberg was committed to theological and biblical precision, and thus called upon outside sources such as Judeo-Chrisitan, Muslim and Arabic leaders as well as theology academics to validate the story. When these advisories viewed the finished film they gave a positive review, noting that the studio and production crew carefully listened to their advice to create an accurate biblical film. This illustrates the dedication to developing a biblically precise film, which, unlike Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, should be praised.

POE doesn’t add any crazy, unrealistic and expendable action, to make a more money-making, gripping film. It takes all the exciting action-packed as well as emotional parts from the Bible, such as the plagues, separation of the Red Sea and how Moses felt learning he was a Hebrew. They did it correctly and made the actual bible stories enjoyable, unlike other biblical films which felt like it was necessary to add more action. In Exodus: Gods and Kings, they made Moses become violent and fighting others with swords! I don’t know whether it’s just me but I don’t really remember that in the Bible!

I think that this film is more important than ever, and Dreamworks never seems to promote it. In this time political correctness, there is a lot of reluctance towards these films and censoring anything that seems to promote a certain religion or other. Especially with films like Noah and Exodus, the Prince of Egypt should be praised because it presents a more honest and neutral portray of the Book of Exodus.

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