Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Joseph: King of Dreams


      Joseph: King of Dreams is a 2000 American animated musical film and the first and so far only direct-to-video release from DreamWorks Animation. The film is an adaptation of the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis in the Bible and also serves as a prequel to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt.
      Joseph is the youngest of Jacob's twelve sons and is labeled as a "Miracle Child" since his mother, Rachel, was believed to be barren. Whilst his brothers work the farm, Joseph in contrast is doted upon and educated by Jacob, inciting the brothers' jealousy and hatred. When he receives a beautiful coat from his father, his brothers hate him even more and fear he may take over as clan leader upon the death of their father, despite him being the youngest and only their half-brother. One evening, Joseph dreams that the sheep his brothers' flock are being attacked by wolves, and true enough whilst his brothers leave him alone to care for the sheep while they go swimming, a vicious pack of wolves attack the flock and Joseph is nearly killed until Jacob saves him. Jacob becomes furious that Joseph was abandoned by his brothers, and also amazed that Joseph's dream came true. Judah, the eldest of the brothers and therefore their leader, merely dismisses this but Jacob is uncertain.
      The next night, Joseph dreams that his brothers each carry sheaves of wheat that bow down to Joseph's gigantic sheaf, and that he is a brilliant star in the sky, surrounded by eleven smaller stars and the sun and the moon. Jacob predicts that one day Joseph will rise above them all, alarming the brothers. They leave and retreat to a cave where they plot to do away with Joseph. Having followed them, Joseph overhears, and the brothers tear his cloak and hurl him down a pit until nightfall. When they "rescue" him, Joseph is horrified to discover their scheme is to sell him to desert slave traders who take him to Egypt. The brothers then bring Joseph's torn and bloodied coat to Jacob and Rachel, who are heartbroken and are led to think he was killed by a wolf pack.
      In Egypt, Joseph is made the servant of a wealthy Egyptian Potiphar. He quickly proves himself an asset to his master and the two become less master and slave and more friends. However, Potiphar's deceitful wife, Zuleika, takes a liking to Joseph. She tries unsuccessfully to seduce Joseph and grabs him, tearing his clothes as he flees in fear. Out of malice, she tells Potiphar, that Joseph accusingly attempted to violate her. Potiphar angrily orders Joseph killed, but when his wife intervenes, he realizes that Joseph is not guilty of his wife's accusations and he reluctantly has him thrown into prison. While imprisoned, Joseph shows his gift by interpreting the dreams of the royal butler and baker who are also prisoners. He accurately predicts that the butler will be restored to his position at the palace in three days, and that the baker will be put to death.
      Eventually, the Pharaoh begins to be plagued by dreams and is told by the butler that Joseph can interpret them. He sends Potiphar to retrieve Joseph who forgives his old friend and master immediately. Joseph interprets the pharaoh's dreams as warnings of an upcoming seven years of abundance in Egypt followed by seven years of famine that will wipe out Egypt. The pharaoh is troubled and at a loss for what to do in order to prevent the upcoming disaster, however, Joseph cleverly suggests that each year one fifth of the crops are put aside and kept for rationing in order to save Egypt. The pharaoh, impressed by Joseph, makes him (Joseph) second only to pharaoh, and gives him the name "Zaphenapt-Paneah".
      As the years pass, Joseph's plan saves Egypt from starvation, Joseph marries Asenath, Potiphar's niece, and has two children with her. Eventually, his brothers arrive in Egypt to buy food because the seven-year famine that struck Egypt has also desolated Canaan. They do not recognize Joseph, who is enraged to see them. They offer to pay for the grain with the silver they sold Joseph for - but Joseph accuses them of being spies, and demands proof of their identity. When the brothers claim they need the food to help their ailing father and youngest brother, Joseph becomes even more angry and has Simeon arrested and locked in prison. He orders the remaining brothers to return with their alleged youngest as proof. If they do not, then Simeon will be put to death. Appalled, the brothers leave.
Asenath is equally shocked and demands to know what Joseph is up to. When she sees through his lies that they are thieves, he reveals that they are his brothers and that it was they who sold him into slavery. Shortly afterward, the brothers reappear with a young man named Benjamin, who is Joseph's almost identical little brother. Simeon is released and Joseph asks Benjamin about his family. He is saddened to realize his mother has died after giving birth to Benjamin, but his father mollycoddles Benjamin, for fear of losing another son. The brothers lie that they had a youngest brother who was killed by wolves many years ago, angering Joseph more, though he does not show it. He sees through his brothers' lies and decides to exact his revenge on them.
      Joseph invites the brothers to a feast and has his own golden chalice concealed in Benjamin's bag while no one is looking. After the feast when the brothers prepare to leave, Joseph prevents them from going and lies that one of them has stolen his goblet. Despite the brothers' protests, Joseph cuts open the sacks of grain he gave them to take back to their homeland, and out of Benjamin's topples the gold cup, and he then orders that he be imprisoned and enslaved. When his older brothers implore him to let Benjamin go and offer themselves instead, he is shocked. Judah beseeches Joseph not to take Benjamin, as the shock of losing another son would surely kill their elderly father. He confesses that their hatred blinded them in the past and that, in jealousy, they sold their brother into slavery and lied that he had been killed by wolves. Touched by their honesty and their honorable show of love for Benjamin, Joseph forgives them and reveals his true identity. The brothers and Joseph plead for forgiveness from one another, which both sides grant, and Joseph invites them and their families to live with him at the palace.
      Shortly after, he is reunited with his father who is overjoyed to see him again.

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