Joseph: King Of Dreams
Co-director Robert Ramirez has said that whilst the reviews for the film had "generally been very good" there was a period "when the film was not working very well, when the storytelling was heavy-handed" and "klunky".
Joseph: King of Dreams
In Egypt, Joseph is bought by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's guards ("Marketplace"), and gradually becomes his most trusted attendant, as well as befriending his beautiful niece Asenath ("Whatever Road's at Your Feet"). However, Potiphar's wife, Zuleika, attempts to seduce Joseph, who refuses her advances. Infuriated, Zuleika falsely accuses Joseph of making advances on her. Potiphar nearly has him executed, but Zuleika, feeling guilty, stops him. Though Potiphar realizes that Joseph is innocent of the crimes, he reluctantly has him thrown in prison to preserve his reputation. Joseph finds himself imprisoned alongside the Pharaoh's cupbearer and his baker and interprets their dreams, which reveal that one will be put to death and the other will return to his position at the palace. Sure enough, the baker is executed and the cupbearer is returned to his job. The cupbearer, however, forgets his promise to tell the Pharaoh about Joseph, leaving him to languish in jail.
Meanwhile, Asenath secretly supplies food to Joseph regularly through the prison's skylight. However, she is nearly spotted by a guard while doing so one evening during a thunderstorm, and is forced to drop the basket of food, much to Joseph's anger. At his lowest point, Joseph climbs the walls of the jail to the skylight, questioning God for his misfortunes and demanding to know why everything has happened to him, before slipping, falling back down, and being knocked unconscious. Upon waking the next day as the thunderstorm in Egypt is over, Joseph finds renewed purpose in caring for a small, dying tree, which is the only source of green in the prison, and slowly helps it grow bigger and healthier as he reflects on his past and begins to trust in God's plan again ("You Know Better Than I").
Soon, the Pharaoh becomes troubled by nightmares which none of his advisors can interpret. Remembering Joseph, the Pharaoh's cupbearer advises him to send the now-widowed Potiphar to retrieve him. The two share a happy reunion with Potiphar apologizing to Joseph for imprisoning him and Joseph forgiving Potiphar for it. Joseph interprets the dreams as warnings of seven years of abundance being followed by seven years of famine to come after that may wipe out Egypt, and suggests that a fifth of each year's harvest will be kept back for rationing. Impressed, the Pharaoh makes Joseph his minister and second-in-command, under the name "Zaphnath-Paaneah". In the following years, Joseph's guidance not only saves the Egyptians from starvation, but allows them to sell excess grain to their neighbors, who were also devastated by the famine. Joseph marries Asenath and has two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with her ("More than You Take").
After the feast, Joseph has his golden chalice concealed in Benjamin's bag while no one is looking, where upon its discovery, he orders that Benjamin shall be enslaved to see how the other brothers will react, and is astonished when they offer themselves in Benjamin's place. Grief-stricken and ashamed, Judah confesses to having sold Benjamin's older brother into slavery, a crime which has haunted him and his brothers ever since for twenty years, and that they cannot return without Benjamin, as it would break their father's heart to lose another son. Shocked at and touched by their change of heart, Joseph reveals himself to them. They reconcile, and Joseph invites them to live with their wives and children in Egypt. Shortly thereafter, he is happily reunited with his father, and meets his brothers' wives and children. The Hebrews then enter Egypt, unaware of the hardships that they would have to face in later years.
Executive Producer Penney Finkelman Cox and DreamWorks employee Kelly Sooter noted the challenge in telling a Bible story faithfully yet still making it interesting and marketable: "we had to take powerful themes and tell them in a way that's compelling and accessible for all ages". They also noted that though it was destined to be a direct-to-video project from the beginning, "the quality of the animation does not suffer ... Our approach to the movie was to develop it with the same quality and storytelling that we did with [The] Prince of Egypt." Creatives involved also noted that "one of the most challenging parts of the movie was creating Joseph's dream sequences, which look like a Van Gogh painting in motion". Nassos Vakalis, who helped storyboard and animate the film, said "I had to travel a lot to Canada to see work done in a few studios that were subcontracting part of the movie". Composer Daniel Pelfrey explained, "I must say the writers and directors did a great job staying true to the story and bringing it into a presentation for a contemporary audience."
When the lights came on in the screening room, the silence was deafening. All the execs put down their yellow legal notepads and headed down the hall to the conference room (which for me felt miles away). When we all sat down, Jeffrey looked up and said three words: "Nothing made sense." He was right. Nothing made sense. We followed the Bible story tightly. The script had structure. We storyboarded it word for word, yet it fell flat on its face. It all suddenly felt like a horrible, horrible disaster, and the worst part of it all was that I didn't know how to fix it. I was deeply confused, and our aggressive production schedule didn't allow for the story re-working that usually takes place on a theatrical feature. Share Stallings, one of our creative executives on the project, was very supportive and offered encouragement to the crew. She assured me that at least two sequences could be saved by clarifying some visuals and re-writing some dialogue. I couldn't see it at the time, although she turned out to be right. The only thing I could think about was that "nothing made sense."
When we started analyzing the characters in Joseph, we began to work from the inside out as opposed to just putting together a story. Once we delved into the minds of these characters and dissected their personalities, we started making some important breakthroughs. What does Joseph want? To be a part of his brothers' lives and reunite with his family. What does Judah, Joseph's older brother, want? He wants the love and positive attention that his father Jacob reserves only for Joseph. What does Jacob want? Jacob wants to show the world how much he loves his favorite son, Joseph. Why does Jacob love Joseph so much more than his other sons? Because Joseph is the spitting image of his favorite wife. He's the first-born son of the woman he waited for all his life to marry. Once we discovered the "wants" of the main characters, it was simple to figure out what actions they would take to satisfy them. Another important discovery was finding the voice of each individual. Once we had a deeper understanding of our characters and what made them tick, the scenes had a new spark of life that had been missing all along. The characters were now driving the scenes, instead of vice versa. In time, ideas that were born out of character helped blend sequences so that they flowed into each other instead of feeling disconnected.
Jodi Benson was thrilled to be cast as Joseph's wife, Asenath, after seeing the work that had been done with Moses in The Prince of Egypt. Benson didn't audition for the part, and was instead offered it. Unlike some of the other characters, she provides both the speaking and singing voices in her role. It took twelve days to record her lines, and the only other voice actor she worked with was the singing voice for Joseph, David Campbell. Benson explained her character is the "voice of reason and the voice of trying to do the right thing to reconcile [Joseph] with his brothers". Her character was given a much larger role than what is presented in The Holy Bible.
All songs were produced and arranged by Danny Pelfrey, and he also composed the score. Hans Zimmer, the composer for The Prince of Egypt, had approved of Pelfrey taking over his role after the latter, a relative unknown at the time, did a couple of interviews at DreamWorks. Pelfrey explained "Through the process [Zimmer] gave me input as to what they like to hear, mostly through the arranging and production of the songs. After that he got too busy but he gave me the foundation and communication skills I needed to successfully complete the project". After receiving the job, Pelfrey read as many different translations of the original Bible text as he could, to find story nuances that he could incorporate. In regard to his collaboration with DreamWorks, he said "Before starting the input was pretty sketchy, but it was an ongoing process with lots of dialog with writers, producers and directors along the way. Jeffery Katzenberg always ultimately approved everything. He was directly involved with the entire process." He also explained "I had never done a musical before ... [and Zimmer] helped me incorporate the sounds from Prince of Egypt as well as guided me in the song production".
DecentFilmsGuide gave the movie a B for Overall Recommendability and 3/4 stars for Artistic/Entertainment Value, writing "Artistically, the best thing about Joseph: King of Dreams is the visionary animation work in the dream sequences ... I caught my breath at the first glimpse of these dreams, which look like living, flowing Van Goghs". However it wrote "Joseph: King of Dreams is not remotely in the same class as The Prince of Egypt. [It] is much more a children's movie". It said the songs "while cheerful and uplifting, are generally unmemorable", and described the animation as "fine but not wonderful". It noted that "once one stops making unfair comparisons to a theatrical film made on a much bigger budget, Joseph: King of Dreams is very much worthwhile on its own more modest terms". Nevertheless, the review complimented the "ominous tune' Marketplace, and said "In one small way, Joseph: King of Dreams even outshines the earlier film: The spirituality of its signature song, You Know Better Than I, is much more profound than anything in the more mainstream "There Can Be Miracles". DVD Verdict wrote "Joseph: King of Dreams will shatter any expectations you may have about direct-to-video animated features. This is no halfhearted attempt to cash in on the success of The Prince of Egypt, but is instead a fully realized and carefully crafted story of its own. This film could easily have been released theatrically, although its running time is maybe just a bit short for that", praising its animation, music, and storytelling. PluggedIn wrote "while not as eye-popping as Prince of Egypt, [the film] is impressive for a direct-to-video title. Artfully executed dream sequences. Uplifting songs. It also takes fewer liberties than Prince of Egypt did". Lakeland Ledger said "At its best, the story communicated the sense of desperation and yearning that make up the tale and provides a sense of the emotions that underscore the story". Jan Crain Rudeen of Star-News wrote "As with Prince of Egypt, the best part of Joseph for me was the discussion it sparked afterward with my kids". 041b061a72