Magazine article Anglican Journal

Shakespeare in Love

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Shakespeare in Love

Article excerpt

Directed by John Madden

*** (out of five)


SPRINGING UP in the suburbs of larger Canadian cities are new movie theatre complexes. The complete opposite of the urban cineplex, these venues are a cross between the big movie palaces of the 1940s and theme parks. They include video-game arcades, food fairs and auditoriums with stadium-styled seating, big curved screens, and huge sound systems

What do you show in such a facility? Remakes of classics is a new fad. Watch for a new movie of the TV series, My Favourite Martian, and an animated version of Rogers and Hammerstein's musical, The King and I. In Hollywood, everything old is new again - including the Bible. Dreamworks Studio has released their rendition of the Moses story - The Prince of Egypt.

Canadian Anglicans will be pleased to know that this biblical cartoon is PG - parental guidance suggested, confirming what the church has taught for years - the Bible is not for kids alone. The PG rating is earned for "intense depiction of thematic elements." The thematic elements depicted are from the Bible - the conditions of the Israelites in slavery and God's slaying of the Egyptian first-born sons but passing over the children of the Hebrew slaves. These are shocking and terrifying stories that form the back-bone of one of the most important biblical narratives - the deliverance of Israel from slavery to the Promised Land. The Prince of Egypt gets these parts right and includes awesome special effects such as the burning bush and the crossing of the Red Sea.

Sadly, it's where this animated film chooses to depart from the Bible that it fails. It ignores the more subversive elements of the text - like the civil disobedience of the Hebrew midwives. It's a musical (songs by Stephen Swartz) so you need to get ready for pop music with songs for everyone, even God! There are some innovations added to the classical story. There's a conflict between brothers introduced: Moses (voice of Val Kilmer) has a brother Rameses (voice of Ralph Fiennes). They're fun-loving guys, and Moses is always getting them into trouble. They race their chariots (great computer-generated special effects) but, after leaving Pharaoh's palace and learning about his true identity, Moses returns to ask for the liberation of his people. …

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