Dear friends in Christ,
Janice, our three boys and myself went to see 'The Prince of Egypt' and found it to be a lot of fun, as well as inspirational. The computer graphics of the pyramids and the parting of the Red Sea were quite impressive. The movie was remarkably accurate to the biblical text. I would commend this movie to your families and parishes. It could be a good movie in which to bring your unchurched friends, as it breaks the taboo of silence re biblical issues in our increasingly secular culture.
Blessings, Ed Hird+
Hollywood Gets One Right
A Review of The Prince of Egypt
By Tom Neven
It is important to hold to the fire the feet of those who produce our entertainment when they turn out morally offensive, degenerate or just plain bad work. But when they do the right thing, when they turn out a good product or go out of their way to ensure fairness and accuracy to the biblical worldview, they should be applauded and supported.
The producers went out of their way to make sure the retelling of the familiar story did not insult religious sensibilities.
A new movie by DreamWorks SKG, the studio created by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, which has produced a variety of movies, some of which Focus readers might find problematic, appears to be a case of the latter. The Prince of Egypt, due in movie theaters December 18, tells the story of Moses and the Exodus in dramatic form using state-of-the art animation techniques.
Aside from the top-notch production values, however, the producers sought to ensure that the tale was told faithfully, and they went out of their way to make sure the retelling of the familiar story did not insult religious sensibilities.
So in addition to tapping the expertise of archeologists and Egyptologists, DreamWorks consulted religious figures from several faith communities, including Christian, Jewish and Muslim. Among the Christians who participated in the process and provided suggestions to the movie's producers were Dr. James Dobson, the Rev. Billy Graham, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Dr. D. James Kennedy. (DreamWorks stresses that participation does not imply endorsement.)
"This was not our story to tell one of eight ways, like a fairy tale," Katzenberg says. "Our choices [of how to make it] could not diminish the message or values of the story as it is in the Bible."
Among some of the changes to the script DreamWorks made to accommodate religious beliefs were: In the original script, when God tells Moses of the final plague in which the firstborn throughout Egypt are killed, He says, "When I see the mark upon the door frame . . ." Based on strong recommendations from both Jewish and Christian leaders, the script was changed to read, "When I see the blood . . ." to be faithful to the biblical account and, for Christians, to maintain the messianic foreshadowing of the Passover. One of the song sequences originally said, "You can do miracles if you believe." To avoid any New Age suggestion that we are the source of miracles, not God, the line was changed to, "There can be miracles when you believe."
DreamWorks has made a few alterations to the story for what it describes as artistic reasons or for production purposes, as stated in a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie. The largest such change involves who finds the baby Moses in the river. In the Bible, it is Pharaoh's daughter. In the movie, it is Pharaoh's wife so, as the producers say, they could add the dramatic tension of Rameses and Moses growing up as brothers.
But the disclaimer also explicitly steers viewers to the Bible, saying, "The biblical story of Moses can be found in the book of Exodus."
The producers of The Prince of Egypt sought a PG rating for the film because they do not want parents simply to drop their kids off at the theater; Katzenberg says he wants it to be a family event. The producers also recommend that parents talk through the story with their children before taking them to the movie so that some dramatic scenes, including the death of the firstborn and the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Dead Sea, do not confuse or scare children.
Any movie that steers viewers to the Bible is one that we can all applaud.
This article appeared in Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 1998 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.