THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998)
Director: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells.
Prince of Egypt is brilliant animation, undoubtedly one of the finest of its genre. Its lively depiction of the events summarised in Exodus (1-14) covers the events from the birth of Moses to the Ten Commandments episode, make it entertaining as well as educative for movie lovers of all ages… Prince of Egypt begins with scenes of Israel’s sufferings under Egyptian oppression praying in song for their deliverance. When little Moses is set afloat in the river by his mother Yocheved, fearing for the life of her first born son under the pharaoh Seti’s orders, he is discovered by the pharaoh’s daughter, who adopts him. He grows up as a brother and bosom friend to Pharoah’s son Rameses. When Seti appoints his son as Regent, he immediately appoints Moses as the Royal Chief Architect. He learns of his past and realises that he is one of the Hebrews. But life changes for Moses when he meets his siblings one night. His sister Miriam even tells him of his future life mission as liberator. It sets him against Pharaoh. He tries to intervene to save an old Hebrew slave from an Egyptian slave master’s cruelty. He is forced to flee when the Egyptian dies accidentally. In the desert he meets Jethro’s daughter Tzpporah and tends his father-in-law’s sheep. He encounters his ancestral God Jehovah in the burning bush and is assigned the task of liberating his people from Egypt. He has to confront the Egyptian sorcerers and Rameses himself to rescue his people and lead them towards the promised land. His meetings with his adopted Brother and now Pharaoh Rameses fails to convince the ruler either about Jehovah or about ending the oppression. The ten plagues only make the Pharaoh more determined to oppress the Hebrews. The rest of the story accurately follows the familiar Bible story. Fictional elements are also added. Humour and good music liven up the various sequences.
LIFE FOR LIFE: MAXIMILIAN KOLBE (1991)
Director: Krzysztof Zanussi Cast: Edward Zentara, Christoph Waltz, Artur Barcis, Gustaw Lutkiewicz, Krzysztof Zaleski…
Life for Life …presents the life and death of St Maximilian Kolbe, martyred in the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 1941. Kolbe is known to have volunteered to die in place of a fellow prisoner named Karl Gajowniczek when the camp commandant sends ten prisoners to the death chamber following the escape of one prisoner. It unfolds through the experiences of Jan, the Polish insurrectionist escapee from Auschwitz. He comes to believe that it was his escape that prompted Kolbe’s death along with ten others. Kolbe had offered to substitute himself for Gajowniczek, while Jan has made good his escape. He seeks asylum in the Franciscan monastery at Alwernia, where he confesses to the priest. Jan’s conversations with the Friar Anselm lead him to believe that his escape had caused the death of Kolbe. In his desire to avoid the truth, he defiantly asks: “Do you want your own saint?” Brother Anselm retorts, “You think the world doesn’t need saints?” Jan believes that “there are no saints in this world, only egoists,” forgetting that he is safe precisely because of men like Kolbe and Anselm. The beauty of such utter selflessness is lost on him. A series of flashbacks recall the significant aspects of Kolbe’s life through the memories of many persons. One episode recalls his boyhood devotion to Mary. In a vision She offers him two crowns – a white one for purity and a red one for martyrdom. He takes both. Towards the end, the restless Jan watches the TV report of the beatification of Kolbe. He goes down on his knees under the weight of his emotions. The last sequence focuses on Kolbe’s death administered through carbolic acid injection inside the death chamber. Only Kolbe had survived that long after having comforted and prayed for the fellow victims till the end. The film is a deeply reflective recreation of the meaning of martyrdom, self-sacrifice and human freedom.
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