I already did a Shabos Zmiros post for today, but orthoblogger DovBear reminded me that tomorrow morning, Jews around the world will read Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea, sung by our ancestors as they crossed the Sea of Reeds out of Egypt.
And that reminded me of The Prince of Egypt. I consider The Prince of Egypt to be not only a fantastic film, but a wonderful piece of midrash. I learned a lot about how the film came to be at LimmuNY last year, when acclaimed biblical translator Everett Fox spoke about the film and showed clips from it. Fox was flown out to LA by Dreamworks several times of the course of the production of the film to serve as biblical consultant.
Though Shirat Hayam is protrayed somewhat inaccurately in the film, I don’t think it takes anything away from it. Rather than having everyone sing it as they cross the sea, they have a children’s choir sing it as they leave Egypt and head for the sea (presumably amongst all of the looting!), with adults joining in a few lines into the song.
The video below shows that part of the film. The clip begins with the death of Pharoah’s son and continues with the song “(There can be Miracles) If You Believe.” Shirat Hayam begins around 3:40. Huge props to the filmmakers for the fact that this key song in the film is sung in Hebrew!
BTW, I love the fact that it’s Miriam that initiates “If You Believe,” preserving the idea that she is a songstress.
Here is a similar video from the Israeli version of the film. The Israeli version, rather than featuring just Hebrew subtitles, was re-recorded entirely in Hebrew with Israeli voice actors and famous Israeli singers. As with our liturgy, I find the clips of this film in Hebrew to be ten times as rousing.
Further coolness in this last video. This is the Hebrew version of the burning bush scene. Much of the dialogue is directly quoting Shmot in this scene. “Mosheh, Mosheh.” “Hineni.” And of course, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.” Etc. It’s incredibly rousing to watch with your Tanach in front of you. You can read along with the film! Another recognizable phrase in the scene: “Eretez zavat chalav ud’vash.”