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January 07, 1999 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-07

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10 The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 7, 1999

Evans examines
historical influences

'Prince' produces no miracles

The American
Harold Evans
Harold Evans' new book
hronicling the past century is
just in time for the beginning of a
new one.
The book is about the past but
written with the historical per-
spective of the present and mar-
keted for the future in a shiny, sil-
ver cover.
Evans uses photographs and
boxes featuring important, but
not necessarily well-known peo-
ple, to typify an era. The book
begins about 10 years before the
turn of the last century and is
divided according to social as
well as political eras.
Evans begins with a descrip-
tion of the land rush in the
American West and defines the
first part of the century mainly by
political and social movements.
The book goes on to cover the
importance of industry in the past
century and both World Wars and
their effects. There is also atten-
tion to social problems such as
the rise of the Klu Klux Klan and
the drug trade later in the century.
Evans maintains an impartial
perspective and represents the
material in an academic way but
uses specific examples from
people's lives to make it more
personal. The historical figures
featured are sometimes part of
famous cases but Ore often
unknown people whose experi-

ences represent a larger point
that Evans is trying to make.
These features add depth and
make the book interesting to
Evans also uses each presiden-
cy to define a certain time. The
personal lives of the presidents
are explored in the features on
each man. The rest of the chap-
ters are devoted to the events of
each presidency.
There are several pages for
each president that serve as a
timeline of their lives. There are
pictures of the president's early
childhoods and facts about their
early lives. The first of the presi-
dents featured is William
McKinley, who served in office
from 1897 to 1901. Thelast pres-
ident featured is George Bush,
who was in office from 1989 to
The most important aspect of
the book is that Evans deals with
the lives of our presidents in the
same manner as he deals with the
lives of mine workers or cow-
boys. He approaches each era
through the perspectives of the
people who lived then. Evans
doesn't try to make his book a
series of facts with pictures in
between. Instead he presents his-
tory as a series of stories, none of
which were necessarily
inevitable. Each story leads- to
another feature in the book, but it
is not a direct cause.
Evans presents the history of
the past century in an informative
way that is quite palatable and
enjoyable to read.
- Caitlin Hall

By Ed Sholinsky
Daity Film Editor
It's always amazing when a movie
that looks as good as "The Prince of
Egypt" ends up being so awful. But
with a story and its execution so
paper-thin, it's a bonus that at least
the animation is pretty.
Adapting its story from Exodus
and DeMille's "The Ten
Commandments," "The Prince of
Egypt" focuses less on religion and
more, on the relationship between
Moses (the voice of Val Kilmer) and
Rameses (Ralph Fiennes). Adopted
by Seti (Patrick Stewart), Rameses'
father, Moses becomes a memberof
the Egyptian royal family, who
oppresses the Jews.
Moses has no recollection of his
Jewish heritage, and only starts to
rebel after he meets his real sister
and brother,
Miriam (the
- very Jewish
Sandra Bullock)
ITChe P lO and Aaron (the
of Egypt even more
, * Jewish Jeff
G oldblum),
At riarwood respectively.
and showcase The same night
he meets them,
Moses has a
vision of Seti
murdering thou-
sands of Jewish
children, and he
suddenly realizes from where he

CourtesyaotDewmnr,0ks Pcituss
Two sovereign princes of Egypt; Rameses and Moses, engage in friendly chariot races in their young adult lives, only later to
be seriously pitted against one another when Moses' true heredity as a Hebrew slave is revealed.

though, you must sit through endless
musical numbers - none of which
actually work - and watch as
Jeffrey Katzenberg and his
Dreamworks team demolish a poten-
tial classic.
"The Prince of Egypt" finds itself
in fertile territory, telling a story of
sibling rivalry and the
effect of destiny on
individuals and their
families, but never

fully realizes its potential. Instead,
the film is bogged down with lousy
music, care of Stephen Schwartz,
and a story that has too much going
on to ever really focus on the main
conflict between Moses and
Rameses. Rather, writers Philip
LaZebnik and Nicholas Meyer do a
lot of clowning around and lose con-
trol of the story.
Ultimately, the film's greatest mis-
take is setting the plagues to music.
Rather than showing the human
effect of them, the filmmakers gloss
over them, making it seem as if
they never happened. The only
plague that gets any real attention
is the final plague - the death of all
Egypt's first-born sons. And
even here there is no real
emotional reaction from
Moses, who has to con-
front his
while he
holds his

dead son.
Nevertheless, "The Prince of
Egypt" is a wonder to behold. With a
strong blend of hand-drawn and
computer generated animation, "The
Prince of Egypt" is a fine looking
movie. If the writers had put in half
as much to making the story as sharp
as the animation, then "The Prince of
Egypt" would be a terrific cinema.
In its attempt at making a serioa
animated film that would appeal tY
kids as much as it appeals to adults,
Dreamworks has stumbled but not
quite fallen. Instead of living up to the
hype of an animated film that would
tell an adult story in a genre generally
reserved for children's film, "The
Prince of Egypt" is pretty standard in
terms of the story it tells, but subpar in
its telling. What Dreamworks proves
with "The Prince of Egypt" is tho
Disney is not the only studio capable
of making a big-budget animation
spectacular. Perhaps if Dreamworks'
ambition of telling a biblical
adventure had not gotten
ahead of it skills in crafting
a story then the results
would have been much dif-
ferent and much more

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Courtesy of reamWorks Pictures
In "The Prince of Egypt," DreamWorks' animated version of the Biblical story of Exodus, Moses (voice of Val Kilmer), with wife Tzlpporah (voice of Michelle Pfeiffer),
leads his Hebrew brothers and sisters out of the tyrannic control of Egypt's pharaoh, and into the Promised Land.


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