finding of moses

Epic Movie (Re)Watch #112 - The Prince of Egypt

Originally posted by dreamworksmoments

Spoilers Below

Have I seen it before: Yes

Did I like it then: Yes.

Do I remember it: Yes.

Did I see it in theaters: No.

Format: DVD

1) The head of Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks animation at the time and one of the former big wigs at Disney, had been pitching an adaptation of Moses’ story from Exodus to Disney far before he started Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg. During an early meeting of Dreamworks Katzenberg recalls that Spielberg looked at him during the meeting and said, “You ought to do The Ten Commandments.”

2) I think the opening disclaimer is a nice touch.

“The motion picture you are about to see is an adaptation of the Exodus story. While artistic and historical license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Moses can be found in the book of Exodus.”

3) Music plays an incredibly important role in this film, mostly for setting its grand storytelling and dark tone. This is clearly apparent from the opening song “Deliver Us” which depicts the suffering of the Hebrew people in Egypt and also the hope of Moses.

Originally posted by holden-caulfieldlings

4) This film also does an excellent job of immediately establishing the brotherly relationship between Moses and Ramses. It’s fun and honest, which makes the following events all the more heartbreaking.

Originally posted by somehow-you-will

5) Val Kilmer is quite effective in the role of Moses, being able to provide a healthy balance of his youthful joviality and privilege early on and the wisdom that would come to define the character later.

6) This film has three noteworthy actors who have very little lines. The first two of these are Patrick Stewart as Pharaoh Seti and Helen Mirren as The Queen.

Originally posted by ofallingstar

Neither of them sing, so their lines are few and unfortunately Mirren feels wasted in the part (less of a comment on her acting, which is top notch as usual, and more from the lack of screen time). Stewart, however, gives Seti some depth. We see him as father and ruler, both roles where he cares about his people, but also murderer of Hebrew babies which gives him a sinister feel.

7) Moses could have been painted as a spoiled brat while acting as prince of Egypt, but he takes responsibility for his actions and mistakes while also trying to shield Ramses from some of their father’s heavy expectations.

8) Tzipporah is established as fierce as heck from the get go.

Originally posted by spypartygifs-blog

Kept as a foreign slave in her first scene, she still fights back with great vigor despite being in a room who don’t care if she dies by the hands of the pharaoh. Michelle Pfeiffer imparts some of the strength she brought to Catwoman into the part and it’s a wonderful take on the biblical figure.

9) Sandra Bullock may have more lines than Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, and (later) Danny Glover, but for some reason I’m always wanting more of her and her character Miriam by the time the film ends. I like what I see, I just wish there were more of her in the film (I think).

Originally posted by holden-caulfieldlings

10) For some reason I don’t feel the way about her brother Aaron, who is voiced wonderfully by Jeff Goldblum. That may be because we see Aaron develop from non-believer to believer over the course of the film (wheres Miriam is consistently good and believing in Moses) and Jeff Goldblum plays both the doubter and the supporter well.

Originally posted by radioactivelizzy

11) Continuing with the excellent music in this film, “All I Ever Wanted,” carries with it that sense of grandeur as well as the heartbreak of Moses denying his true heritage.

12) Moses’ nightmare is one of the most memorable non-musical sequences out of the film (not THE most memorable but one of them), and this is done both through the unique hieroglyphic art style and the lack of dialogue. It is true visual storytelling.

13) Remember how I said Tzipporah is fierce as heck? Well, that continues throughout the film when she decides to drop Moses into a well as a bit of payback for being a prince of Egypt (although she does help him out because he helped her escape the palace).

14) Danny Glover is the third actor who doesn’t have enough lines. He plays the role of Jethro, a character with about ten spoken lines (more or less) and then the rest of his role is in song. And Danny Glover doesn’t sing the song.

Originally posted by holden-caulfieldlings

In the little dialogue Glover does give though, he is able to establish Jethro as a man who’s heart is as big as his stature. I just wish we’d heard more of him.

15) I mentioned in The Road to El Dorado the effectiveness of using a song to cover large gaps of time. This film is no different, initial with Jethro’s song “Through Heavens Eyes.” It’s a rousing and hopeful number which talks of the Hebrew god and how we can only know our worth when trying to look through (one guess what I’m going to say next) heaven’s eyes. In that time we cover Moses learning what a free life is from these people, his growing humility, and his blossoming relationship with Tzipporah (and eventual marriage).

Originally posted by holden-caulfieldlings

16) The Burning Bush.

Val Kilmer provides the voice of god in this film, although that wasn’t the initial plan. Originally all the actors in the film were going to voice god at the same time, and were told to whisper so they wouldn’t overpower each other. When the time came to record Kilmer’s lines, they realized someone had to speak louder. It was a happy realization, as the filmmakers later noted that god usually speaks to us as the little voice in our own heads. And it parallels the Cecil B. Demille version of The Ten Commandments where it is said (although I don’t think confirmed) that Charlton Heston also provided the voice of god while also playing Moses.

17) Moses telling Tzipporah about his encounter with the burning bush is another fine example of how filmmaking is primarily a VISUAL medium. We don’t hear a word they saw to each other, but we see him talking and we see her reaction and we know EXACTLY what is happening.

Originally posted by quaslmodo

18) Ralph Fiennes performance as Ramses is at its best when Ramses becomes villainous and conceited. Hmm, Ralph Fiennes playing a villainous and conceited villain. Sounds familiar…

Originally posted by yerr-a-wizard-harry

19) Playing with the Big Boys is the only real villain song in this film.

Performed by the evil lackeys Hotep and Huy (who are voiced wonderfully by Steve Martin and Martin Short respectively), the song shows off just how dark things in the Egypt really are and how tricky these two “magicians” are. Martin and Short breathe wonderful life and evil fun into the song, and even recorded their dialogue together. And the scenes uses wonderful use of darkness and shadows to make us feel like Moses is in over his head. Which in a way, he is. But the film wouldn’t be interesting if things were easy for the protagonist.

20) The growing conflict between Moses and Ramses is heartbreaking and I give credit to all those involved in this film for that. The directors, the writers, the animators, Val Kilmer & Ralph Fiennes, everyone. We see them go from the best of friends to archenemies and neither of them wants to be in that position. But they are, and they each think they’re doing what is best for their people. It hurts a lot to watch.

21) “The Plagues” is also a great example of how this film condenses what could have been a massive chunk of time into a little two-and-a-half minute song.

It also does not make light of the plagues either. The plagues were horrible. True wrath of god type stuff that ruined people’s lives. And this song is an epic but dark representation of just what those were like while also developing the conflict between Moses and Ramses.

22) I’m not as familiar with my biblical readings as maybe I should be, but I like that this film depicts Moses reaching out to Ramses one last time before he releases the final plague. It is one final reminder that they are or, more appropriately, were brothers. And they almost seem to understand each other, to make peace. But they don’t. Meaning the final and most awful plague is released.

23) I don’t want to get into my own theological beliefs or philosophies, but I am always sickened about the death of the first borns of Egypt.

The scene is animated beautifully but the entire thing is heartbreaking. The idea of a god who will take away the lives of children just to get what he wants, even though he later claims that we are all his children, just never sits right with me. I just…it sickens me. That’s all I can say. It sickens me.

24) “When You Believe” is probably THE song from this film. It won the Oscar for best original song that year, beating out “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith. It is the perfect representation of the power of hope and belief which is the central theme of this film. Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky (along with the film’s chorus) do an excellent job performing the song written by Stephen Schwartz, but the pop version performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey is just as good.

Originally posted by holden-caulfieldlings

25) I think the most memorable part of this film has to be the parting of the Red Seas. And it could just be for this image alone:

Originally posted by neverlandpixy

That is such a powerful image which really gets across the wonder of what we’re seeing. A representation of the scene which few if any adaptations of the Exodus story have ever lived up to and which I think only animation can bring to life so wonderfully.

26) After the Red Sea crashes down and Ramses is washed away, we see Moses looking off in the distance and hear Ramses screaming, “MOSES!” The filmmakers have suggested that this may be in Moses’ head and that Ramses might actually be dead. I like that idea. It shows Moses still has hope for his brother.

27) And since this is an adaptation of Exodus, of course it has to involve the Ten Commandments in some way. I’m just glad that it’s the last shot of the film. A nice way of ending the story.

It makes sense to end a family film there, as opposed to Moses finding his people worshipping a false idol (a golden cow, I think) and smashing the tablet before God destroys the idol and forces his people to wander the desert for 40 years to kill off the rebellious generation. Oh, and Moses didn’t get to go into the promised land.

(GIF originally posted by @rocktheholygrail)

What’s not family friendly about that?

The Prince of Egypt is a great animated film who’s popularity has unfortunately lost steam in recent years. It represents its story well without beating you over the head with the religion, the animation and music are gorgeous, and the voice acting is top notch (if a little wasted at times). I highly recommend you see it.









Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)
“The Finding of Moses” (1904)
Oil on canvas
Currently in a private collection

Alma-Tadema worked on the painting for two years. By the time it was finished, his wife wryly quipped that the infant Moses would now be “two years old, and need no longer be carried”.


aaron & moses in the prince of egypt (updated 11.23.16)

there isn’t an instant connection.  their reunion isn’t free of complications.  yet every moment of rockiness, every moment of understanding, is important.  these two are important.  i want to believe that even when roots have been severed, it is possible for something to grow again.

somehow-you-will  asked:

Hey, I loved the breakdown you did of the relationship between Moses and Rameses, so I was wondering what your thoughts were on Moses' relationship with Miriam and Aaron (and if you might be able to do a similar analysis)?

Thank you so much! I loved talking about Moses and Rameses II (and could frankly keep talking about them, oh my goodness), and I’d be really happy to talk about the relationship dynamics between Moses, Miriam, and Aaron. This sibling relationship is complex, emotional, and full of meaning and beauty.

Each sibling has a different role. Aaron is the cynic. Miriam is the inspirer. Moses is the doer. Not only that, but there’s a deep story in how they interact: they are able to build each other up, but only once they all place their faith and trust in God. At first, the family is split up; Aaron and Moses both try to silence Miriam for her faith and hope. Moses regards Miriam and Aaron as slaves. Aaron thinks that Moses and Miriam have crazy ideas. However, over time, this changes. Moses transitions from treating Seti I, Tuya, and Rameses II as his family… to treating Aaron and Miriam as his siblings. Aaron begins accepting Moses and acknowledging the power of God’s deliverance, while Miriam’s hopes become reality. By the end of the movie, the three siblings are radiant around one another, drawn together by the powerful experience of the Exodus.

Moses Leaves His Family

At the start of The Prince of Egypt, Moses’ mother Jochebed takes her three children and runs to the Nile River. She is fleeing Egyptian soldiers, who are slaughtering every Hebrew infant boy. Once she and her children are safely away, she places her baby Moses in a basket, places a lid over the boy, and sends him off to float on the Nile.

Now it’s important to note here that both Miriam and Aaron witness their mother sending the baby off in the basket. However, only Miriam follows the basket; Aaron does not trail after his baby brother, and consequently never sees Tuya pick the boy up. This is important. Miriam sees God answer prayers. Miriam sees Tuya adopt Moses, and consequently the little girl is filled with hope and optimism. Her baby brother is going to survive! Aaron, however, only sees Moses leaving, and he grows up without seeing God fulfill those promises. His most distinct memories of this event will be the Hebrew babies being killed.

Many other life experiences will shape the way Miriam and Aaron think and behave. This is just one event. However, it still seems to predict how Miriam and Aaron act as adults. The next time we see Miriam, she is a woman of faith, while Aaron wallows in skepticism and fear.

Moses Meets Miriam and Aaron

Moses grows up without knowing he was a Hebrew, never realizing that his blood siblings are actually two Hebrew slaves. For this reason, when he stumbles into Miriam and Aaron in the street, he does not recognize them. Miriam and Aaron would have remembered what happened to their baby brother, but since Moses was an infant, of course he doesn’t remember in turn.

Looking at this screencap, it’s painful to think that these are actually three siblings interacting.

Miriam, ever the hopeful, faithful optimist, presumes that Moses has arrived at their doorstep for a family reunion. The last time she saw Moses, she prayed that he would grow up to deliver her people (it’s also the first thing she says in the movie, and man it portrays her and sets her up so well). Now she believes her prayer has been answered. Moses has grown up, he’s meeting with the Hebrew slaves, he’s returning to his family… he has to be delivering them, right? 

The problem is… that’s not why Moses is here at all. In fact, even as Miriam is excitedly greeting Moses, he’s trying to look above her. He’s looking past her, trying to follow Zipporah, and doesn’t quite welcome Miriam’s interruption.

The result is that Miriam looks crazy.

Here is this tiny little slave girl trying to talk to the impressive, gold-wearing, straight-backed Prince of Egypt about deliverance and family. She’s claiming that this royal prince is born of slaves and a brother of slaves. It’s utterly delusional, and she doesn’t back down the entire time. She just keeps persisting, making her look almost insane.

Aaron’s reaction makes total sense here. He doesn’t live by hopes in nothing, but more grounded down on how earth actually is. He tries to shut down Miriam’s babbling before she instills the prince’s wrath and gets them punished. He yanks at her, pushes her away, tries to shut her up, makes excuses about what she’s saying, and begs for Moses not to listen to her words. Wide-eyed, bumbling, and frantic, he at one point even falls to his knees begging for mercy from Moses. Aaron treats Moses with the expectation this man is simply Egyptian royalty. Simply, Aaron’s being a smart bloke acting prudently according to matters as they are.

It’s a ridiculous, chaotic interaction. No one’s helping one another; each sibling is at odds from the other. Moses finds the two Hebrews offensive and stands over them threatening them. Aaron fears that Moses and Miriam will get him physically harmed and starts frantically yanking her out of the way. Miriam is trying to speak to Moses about faith and forgiveness but keeps getting shut down by both of them, eventually ending up kneeling on the ground, crying.

In a way, Aaron’s actions and Moses’ actions make the most sense. Moses has grown up in a societal structure where slaves talking like this are offensively out of line. Aaron is acting according to that social paradigm and trying to save his - and his sister’s - neck from an angry official. Miriam’s the one who is out of line, acting completely out of societal norms or expectations. She’s putting herself at risk for beliefs that seem ludicrous.

But she does one thing that hits home for Moses.

She starts to sing Jochebed’s lullaby.

And Moses recognizes it.  

I love this little visual moment, where Miriam and Jochebed are animated from the same angle, the same way, with the same expression, singing the same song. It’s a flashback to the moment Jochebed placed her son on the Nile.

Personally, I don’t think it’s the visual that makes Moses’ heart skip a beat. It’s the song that Miriam is singing. If you pay attention to the first time Moses hangs out with Rameses after the chariot race, you hear Moses whistling that very same lullaby. He knows the tune well enough that he can whistle it.

How did this happen? Well, the movie diverges a bit from the Old Testament, but if you want to supplement the Bible with this movie, then Exodus 2:7-10 is important. In that passage of the Bible, we learn that Jochebed was Moses’ nurse for the first few years of his life. In that time and region of the world, babies were weaned at a later age - toddlerhood. So Jochebed would have been nursing Moses for about three years before he lived in the palace permanently with Seti I, Tuya, and Rameses II. This means he would have had the chance to form memories about that early childhood lullaby. The average age of first memory is four years old, so it’s not entirely implausible that three year old Moses would have been able to retain this song.

When Miriam starts singing the song, Moses realizes with a jolt where it came from. He learned that lullaby from a Hebrew slave… his true mother.

And so he runs.

Moses Leaves Egypt

In the first interaction between Moses, Miriam, and Aaron, we see Aaron trying to stop Miriam and Moses refusing to listen to either of them.

But the next time Moses sees them, he actually pays attention to Miriam.

Miriam, yet again, is doing something crazy outside of societal regulations. She sees a Hebrew slave being whipped, and she’s shouting out for this to stop. As a slave, she has no authority telling an Egyptian slave driver to quit punishing another slave. But this woman, who acts by her heart rather than by worldly reason, cries out anyway.

Moses hears her. In fact, he ignores Rameses II in order to charge up and stop the whipping. 

“Stop it!” Miriam shouts. 
“There’s nothing we can do!” Aaron shouts, fearful that his sister is getting into trouble.
And then Moses, paralleling his sister, shouts out the same words she does… “Stop it!”

This is the first time we really see the trio at their work. Aaron is thinking about how the world currently, concretely works and operates. Miriam is thinking about ideals. And Moses charges out and does something about the problem. Moses is the one who combines the pain the world currently is in (what Aaron understands) with the ideals of what the world could be (what Miriam understands), and takes an action to change situations for the better.

For the first time, Moses defends the Hebrew people over the Egyptians. 

And he… to his horror… kills a man.

All the slaves stare at Moses with terror. It’s interesting to note, though, that while everyone else backs away, Miriam and Aaron don’t. They recognize that Moses was defending them. Miriam even tries to reach out and comfort Moses, but he doesn’t let her touch him. He runs.

The turmoil of who he is and who he is not has built into a climax inside him. Moses has been freaking out over the fact he’s not a blood born Prince of Egypt. Now he’s just murdered someone because of his mental turmoil. He can’t take it, especially since he throws an Egyptian down to his death in the same way he has seen the Pharaoh throw down babies to crocodiles in that despicable mural. And so, telling Rameses II that he’s not who his brother thinks he is, flees Egypt altogether.

Moses Returns to Egypt

When Moses returns to Egypt, Aaron’s no longer as timid as he was the first time they met. This time, Aaron speaks out affrontively, almost vindictively, at Moses. Because Moses is no longer the prince of Egypt, Aaron doesn’t have to be afraid of him. Angrily, he asks Moses how it feels when he’s struck to the ground.

I want to point this out: it’s not just that Aaron’s talking about the slaves as a whole and the fact Moses’ actions against Rameses II have backlashed against them. He’s also talking about something a bit more personal.

The last time they were together, Moses forced Aaron’s sister to the ground.

There’s a reason we always see Aaron with his hands and arms wrapped around Miriam’s shoulders. It’s to grab her to make sure she’s not going to do anything “crazy”… and it’s to protect her. Because he loves and cares about her. Aaron is out there, trying to watch out for her, trying to make excuses for her, trying to physically save her from harm… always.

So he’s going to be extremely spiteful at the man who’s struck his sister to the ground. And he wants to rub it in Moses’ face now that the opposite has happened.

The thing is, Miriam doesn’t have a problem with Moses’ old actions. She actually turns and scolds Aaron for his shameful words. You’ll notice that the look on Aaron’s face is shock. He didn’t expect this and feels chastised. He lets Miriam approach Moses. For, to Miriam, bygones are bygones, and the fact that Moses has doubled their workloads as slaves doesn’t anger her. Instead, she steps up to speak words of thankfulness, faith, and encouragement to her brother. 

Whereas Moses left her crying on her knees the last time they talked…

…this time Miriam kneels down with him.

Suddenly, Miriam doesn’t seem like the crazy one. Aaron now seems more like the one who’s out of touch. Miriam and Moses are able to bond in this moment, while Aaron stands there at the periphery.

This conversation is enough to encourage Moses to immediately speak to Rameses again. Moses turns the river to blood through God’s power and all the Hebrews see it. It gladdens Miriam. Aaron’s still in the dark, though. He complains that the Egyptian priests were able to turn water to blood, too, and that they’re still slaves. He’s still thinking about life in the moment rather than hoping to what’s ahead, what God can do.

We can see that Moses has adopted himself into the Hebrew people, now, rather than the Egyptians. He speaks words of encouragement and faith just like Miriam would. He points out to all the people that the Pharaoh might be able to take their lives, but they cannot take away their faith, and that God has good things in store for his people.

Moses and Aaron Connect

Moses and Aaron don’t actually connect emotionally until after the Exodus begins and the Hebrews are given their freedom.

Aaron has been so concerned with earthly matters, but it’s bogged him down and made him live without faith. Now, he smiles for the first time, leaving behind his old “home,” and journeying away from Egypt as a free man.

Aaron, while traveling behind Moses, reaches up and gently places his hand on his younger brother’s shoulder. He gives a small smile and says no words. Moses responds back with a similar smile and places his hand on top of Aaron’s. It’s a silent exchange, but it’s full of meaning. Aaron apologizes here for being doubtful, faithless, and rude towards Moses. Moses forgives him. At this point, they accept one another as brothers.

The body language completely metamorphoses between Moses, Miriam, and Aaron. At the start of the movie, you see only tension between Moses and his other siblings. But now, all three of them willingly stand together, and there’s not a single shot where they’re not together now.

Moses has transitioned from his Egyptian family to his Hebrew one.

And if that’s not cool enough, visually you can tell that he was always meant to be with the Hebrews. Rameses II and many of the Egyptians are garbed in blue and aqua. Moses, Miriam, and Aaron all wear primarily red. (There’s actually a movie-wide color symbolism of blue representing Egypt and red representing the Hebrews and God. But that’s another analysis in and of itself).

Aaron Demonstrates His Trust

The coolest moment between Moses and Aaron happens when Moses parts the Red Sea.

Aaron throughout the movie has been the one grounded on earth, on facts, on pessimism, on fear. He has done it to survive, and it’s arguably prudent. After the Exodus happens, though, everything changes. He understands the importance of faith and what it can do when you believe. Aaron smiles. Then he doesn’t quit smiling. And, once Moses parts the Red Sea, it’s Aaron who looks to Moses and decides to go first. He has come so far that he displays this great trust in Moses and enters the passageway between the waters.

Not only that, but when Moses is being pursued by the Egyptian army, Aaron screams out in worry for Moses. He wants to make sure that Moses makes it to safety.

And can we please talk about these hugs at the end of the movie? How amazing and wonderful they are?

How far we’ve come from the start of the movie where they were cringing and shouting at one another…

Aaron charges up behind Moses and squeezes him from behind. There’s great happiness and affection in that embrace. These are totally siblings. Totally.

Then Moses and Miriam hug. Moses stares at Miriam for a long time before they give each other a warm hug, and Moses just says two words: “Thank you.”

Those two words wrap up everything that has transpired between the three siblings throughout the entire movie.

He’s thanking her for believing him. For believing in God. For talking to him that one night they first met. Because of Miriam’s faith - that seeming “craziness” - he has been transformed as a man, learned to trust God himself, and delivered his true family out of Egypt. 

anonymous asked:

Any Ramses headcanons?

Oh, man

  • You know modern-AU Rameses runs an aesthetics blog on Tumblr and has a shitload of followers.
  • Rameses’ wife, Nefertiri, doesn’t understand her husband’s bond with Moses at all. To her, Moses is just the Israelite who keeps stirring up trouble, the ungrateful man who spurned the family who took him in - and later on, the murderer of her only son. No matter how hard Rameses tries to explain the pranks, the chariot races, the magic of their childhood, she never gets it and she never will.
  • Rameses demands that Moses’ room be kept intact even years after Moses runs away. it’s so important to him because he believes Moses will come back eventually and he doesn’t want his brother to think he’d been forgotten or replaced. But also because this is the only part of the whole situation that he has any control over.
  • (Even when the servants to come in to clean it, Rameses watches them like a fucking hawk, always hovering and making sure the servants put things back exactly where they found them – of course he knows where every item is supposed to go, at this point Rameses knows Moses’ room even better than Moses ever did.)
  • (So when Moses comes back his room is exactly as he left it.)
  • (On some nights, when sleep is hard to come by, Rameses finds himself drawn to Moses’s room and often falls asleep curled up in his brother’s bed.)
  • Of course Rameses harbors some intense jealousy towards Moses biological siblings - he is especially incensed when he finds out that Moses has a brother. (Though he never stops thinking of himself as Moses’ real brother.) But he’s also curious about these two Hebrew slaves, so he sends messengers, spies, to learn everything he can about them.
  • Rameses is still scared to death of Tzipporah. :) He’s relieved that, when she and Moses show up at the palace, she keeps her mouth shut, because he no longer has Moses to hide behind and cowering is such undignified behavior for the morning and the evening star.

anonymous asked:

So, I wanted to see what you thought about one specific scene in "Prince of Egypt" (Great movie btw) When Moses starts sobbing after seeing that his brother's son is dead, and the Pharaoh finally let the Hebrews go. It totally caught me off guard, but it speaks a lot about how much he didn't want any of that horrible stuff to happen. What do you think?

This movie is one of my all-time favorites. It makes me want to scream, cry, and dance around in circles because it is such a beautifully done work of art.

The scene where Moses starts crying and falls to his knees is so powerful. And it says so much about what he has suffered through for so long. This moment is the culmination of so many things, from the final release of his people… to the brokenness of his Egyptian family… to the emotional trauma of having fought for freedom for many decades.

Sympathy of a Brother

Moses and Rameses grew up as brothers - brothers who did a whole lot together. Basically, everything together, from what we can see. Moses always managed to drag Rameses into pranks and all sorts of ridiculous misadventures, and when their father called them down for it, Moses always sought to vouch for his brother’s case. When Rameses received a promotion, the first thing he did was promote Moses in turn. Even when Moses killed a man, which was punishable by Egyptian law, Rameses wanted to keep his brother close. These two were incredibly emotionally close growing up, brothers who were simultaneously best friends.

Then Moses disappeared. Biblically, he disappeared for forty stinking years. The movie does not depict him staying away that long, but you still see Zipporah’s sisters growing up, Moses’ hair growing out, and life passing considerably before he returns to Egypt.

The reunion between the brothers is at first happy. They are glad and excited to see each other, marveling at how much has changed and how they have grown over time. Rameses is flabbergasted to see Moses dressed in Midian attire, while Moses marvels that his brother has stepped up as Pharaoh. This is an important, emotional, wonderful family reunion from them at the start, and we can see that Rameses and Moses still care significantly about each other even after the long years apart.

Regrettably, the cheerful reunion ends. Moses’ adamant refrain to let his people go angers Rameses - for understandable reason - but that is the topic of another analysis. The point of the matter is, even though Rameses becomes infuriated, he still cares about his brother. And his brother, as much as it pains him to get on the Pharaoh’s bad side, would much emotionally prefer to laugh happily alongside him.

In fact, in the midst of the ninth plague, after Egypt has essentially been decimated by the horrors of Yahweh, Moses and Rameses are still able to share some tender brotherly moments together. 

It is during the ninth plague, the plague of darkness. Rameses is sitting up on a statue he has used since a young man as a refuge. He sits up there to get away from life’s troubles and reflect. Moses finds him there and remarks on how many memories he has of this place. The two of them then enter a period of nostalgia, reminiscing together of the past, and you can feel the fact that, even though they are at current odds, they still both care about one another. Even in the midst of Egypt being torn apart, even in the midst of Rameses’ heart being hardened against the Lord, they still are able to think back on when times were great between them.

In their hearts, both brothers still want that.

Now think about the moment that Moses cries at the end of the tenth plague. He is mourning the fact that Egypt has been destroyed and that his brother’s heart has been shattered in the process. He hates how much pain his brother is going through right now. In fact, when Moses see Rameses mourning the loss of his son, he tries to reach out to his brother’s shoulder. Moses’ first instinct is not to tell Rameses, “See? I told you more misery was coming. How about you just let the Hebrews go now?” Instead, his first instinct is to reach out sympathetically, mournfully, to try to comfort his grieving brother.

Rameses wrenches away. He finds Moses the cause of it and cannot stand to have the man indirectly behind this premature death touch him. He shouts at Moses to leave.

And Moses, feeling horrible about what his brother has gone through, falls down to weep.

Knowledge of the Upcoming

There is even more playing into Moses’ tears. For he knew what was coming before the tenth plague passed and killed all the firstborn children in the city. 

God told Moses how to prevent the angel of death from killing the firstborn children of the Hebrews. The blood of the lamb on the doorposts would prevent the Hebrews’ firstborn children from dying. This means Moses knew in advance that the Egyptian boys were going to die. Including his nephew. And it is very obvious he has this knowledge. During the plague of darkness, Moses makes it very clear he feared for his nephew’s life.

Moses brings this up first by telling the Pharaoh, “Rameses, your stubbornness is bringing this misery upon Egypt. It would cease if only you would let the Hebrews go.” Moses hates seeing Egypt in pain. This is his home, after all! He is watching the commoners of Egypt, the nobility, and all the people with whom he grew up suffer under traumatic plagues. Moses might be God’s spokesman, standing as the human representative during the ten plagues, but he wants these nightmares stopped just as much as Rameses. “This was my home,” he sings during “The Plagues.” “All this pain and devastation - how it tortures me inside! All the innocent who suffer from your stubbornness and pride.”

I believe Moses understands why Rameses is so angry and hardened against him. Rameses feels the pressure of being a great ruler. He also feels like Moses is betraying him by coming home years and years later… only to try to take away one of his sources of power. It really hurts Rameses inside that his brother would do that. He feels like his brother has come, turned around, and started to hate him for no reason. But even though Moses understands and sympathizes Rameses’ anger and obstinance, he just begs his brother to let go of his pride so that this misery can end.

Because Moses also knows more misery is coming. And once Rameses ignores Moses’ first subtle warning in the plague of darkness scene, Moses gets more blunt. “Something else is coming,” he warns Rameses. This is someone who desperately wants Rameses to avoid more pain! Moses pleas, “Something much worse than anything before. Please, let go of your contempt for life… before it destroys everything you hold dear. Think of your son!” 

Moses is basically handing it to Rameses. He is warning his brother that this little boy is in danger. He is telling Rameses what the next plague is going to do! And he does not want it to happen. He has seen Rameses holding onto the boy, laughing with him, comforting him. Moses would feel horrible beyond belief for taking that away from the Pharaoh. Consequently, he tries his very best to convince Rameses to back down before the plague can strike and take this boy away.

Unfortunately, Rameses does not understand the warning. He responds angrily to Moses, happy nostalgia time over, “My father had the right idea about how to deal with your people, and I think it’s time I finished the job. And there shall be a great cry in all of Egypt… such as never has been or ever will be again!”

That has got to be a horrible blow for Moses emotionally. Rameses is right that there will be a great cry in all of Egypt… it just won’t be the Hebrew people crying. The angel of death is going to come and make all the Egyptians scream out for the deaths of their firstborns.

But Moses realizes Rameses will not listen. He knows what is going to happen, but he cannot stop God. With great pain, he concludes, “Rameses, you bring this upon yourself.” 

And yet Moses cries horribly once Rameses’ son is dead. I am sure that Moses still feels more than a little responsible for what has happened. Rameses might have been stubborn and refusing to release the Hebrews, but Moses was the one in the first place who came with God and the plagues. Had situations played out differently, Moses might have watched his nephew grow up in prosper… rather than be the one with God bringing forth the very boy’s death.

Moses is crying because he has brought death to his old family’s household.

Back in a Full Circle

There is one more thing that makes this moment so completely horrible for Moses. Not only does he feel somewhat responsible for the boy’s death. Not only does he feel the pain of having known what would happen beforehand and not being able to prevent it. Not only does he wish he could have a solid family with his Egyptian brother. But on top of all that, he feels the pain of a cycle coming around again.

Moses’ life amongst the Egyptians began during an infanticide. 

Moses’ life amongst the Egyptians ends during a second genocide.

Moses’ foster father, the old Pharaoh of Egypt, ordered a widespread slaughter of Hebrew infants. Moses was spared because the Pharaoh’s wife discovered the baby Moses in the basket. This genocide came back to haunt Moses many years later. When he learned of what his foster father had done, he was terrified, and this knowledge was one of the key factors which caused him to run away to Midian and leave his life as a prince of Egypt. The death of all the Hebrew babies Moses considered an unforgivably despicable thing, so despicable he could no longer associated with the Egyptians he once considered family.

Now Moses is standing alongside God as his very deity does the same thing Pharaoh did decades ago: kill innocent children. God has the authority and the justice to give life and take it away, but that does not make it any easier for a human like Moses to stomach.

Moses in fact even sees Rameses refuse to back down in front of the mural depicting the Hebrew babies’ death. He is being visibly reminded that the Egyptian kids will go through a slaughter just like is happening on the wall.

He sees history repeating.

He sees Rameses pointing an order, just like his father.

Simultaneously he sees Rameses’ son standing beneath the mural’s dying babies. Moses sees his nephew standing near the crocodiles, looking like just another one of the kids who died in that day.

And Moses knows that the boy will indeed die like this tomorrow. The horrific painting on the wall will again become tragic reality.

Moses falls down to his knees and cries after seeing his dead nephew because of all the painful flashbacks it brings. The deaths of Hebrew babies should have been avoidable back when he was an infant. And the deaths of all the Egyptian firstborns in turn should have been preventable also.

And even though Moses tried, he tried to stop it, he had to witness a second genocide which occurred within his lifetime. Life came back in a full circle with the death of more innocents.

And with it, all emotions come crashing down on Moses. He feels the weight of the firstborns’ deaths on his shoulders. He feels the weight of his nephew’s death in particular. He feels the anger of his brother - the brother he wished could have been his continuing best friend. And I believe that the entire weight of the whole slavery ordeal comes crashing down on Moses at this moment when he cries. For Moses’ entire life, slavery has been an issue. And he has gone through a very long, very painful journey trying to end this. Now, the pain of all the plagues crash down on him now that all the plagues are done. He feels the weight of what he has done freeing all the Hebrews. The trials are over… and now that they are over, he can feel, feel, feel the pressure of what it has been to suffer this long ordeal.

I fully believe the plagues were traumatic to Moses. I believe that both from a biblical standpoint and from the narrative of DreamWorks’ “The Prince of Egypt.” Moses followed Yahweh’s command and obediently stood up to Pharaoh, telling him to let the Hebrews leave Egypt. But he hated seeing the plagues destroy his very home, his very childhood, his very family. As you say, Moses’ tears really speak to how much he did not want the plagues to befall his old home.