|“||I do not know this God. Neither will I let your people go. (Moses: Rameses, please. You must listen!) I will not be the weak link! Tell your people, as of today, their workload has been doubled, thanks to your God. Or, is it thanks... to you?||„|
|~ Rameses dismisses God and Moses and refusing to free the Hebrews.|
|“||You Hebrews have been nothing but trouble. My father had the right idea about how to deal with your people. (Moses: Rameses--) And I think it's time I finished the job! (Moses: Rameses!) And there shall be a great cry in all of Egypt such as never has been or ever will be again!||„|
|~ Rameses deciding to commit genocide against the Hebrews.|
Rameses II, also simply known as Rameses, is the main antagonist of DreamWorks' 2nd full-length animated feature film The Prince of Egypt, which is based on the Book of Exodus.
Based on the Pharaoh from the biblical tale of Moses, he is the son of Pharaoh Seti I and Queen Tuya, the father of Amun, the adoptive older brother of Moses and the adoptive brother-in-law of Tzipporah. He and Moses were raised as brothers and after Moses leaves him, he becomes the Pharaoh of Egypt and the conflict between them is a deeply personal one.
He was voiced by Ralph Fiennes, who also played Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise, Hades in Clash of the Titans, Raiden the Moon King in Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings, Amon Goeth in Schindler's List, Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon, Dennis "Spider" Cleg in Spider, Lord Victor Quartermaine in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Barry in Dolittle.
Rameses is one of the few DreamWorks villains to be considered a tragic villain, mostly from his close relationship he has with Moses in the movie and desire to not be "the weak link of his family." While it would be an exaggeration to call him a villain, Rameses was stubborn, obstinate, headstrong, very concerned about honoring his family, and serious especially on becoming the next Pharaoh of Egypt. His cruelty and stubbornness apparently stems from his past, where his father taught him to hold fast to a strong will and an unwavering mindset; it is worth noting that Rameses's principal objective was getting his father's acceptance and approval. Rameses also did genuinely and deeply care about his son, and was utterly broken by his son's death at the hands of Moses's plagues. This resulted in him shedding any love he felt for his adopted brother.
At the start of the film, Rameses did have a true brotherly bond with Moses, and they considered each other quite close even though Moses usually got Rameses into trouble. Rameses even joined in on goofing off despite their father's unrealistic standards and the two were playful with each other, though Rameses shouldered more of the responsibilities being the older brother. Before the final plague, Rameses tells Moses that he wishes they could just be a family again. Also, while genuinely caring about his son, Rameses was thrilled to see Moses return but became very upset at the fact that Moses only came back for his people, and not for him.
For all his positive aspects, anyone could consider Rameses to be an oppressive control freak as when he is crowned as the Pharaoh, the weight of his responsibility gets to him and he becomes determined to build a great legacy for himself no matter how many Hebrew slaves or subjects he works to the bone, forcing high standards on one of his guards, and bringing a guard who is ill up onto his feet and giving him his stick, even though he is too ill to guard his king. This proves that he is, in a way, as controlling as his father despite being more honorable.
Upon the death of his son, Rameses became even more ruthless than before, with his grief driving him to the brink of outright madness. Not only did he try to kill Moses and his former subjects, but he disregards any love he had for Moses as he blamed him for the deaths of the first borns and his stubbornness drives away his childhood brother, leaving him with no real family to comfort him when he needs it most. That said, despite falling off the deep end, he is still a tragic figure as he would not have stooped to this level if not for his son's death. One could also argue that he would have been more reasonable if his father taught him compassion, instead of grooming him into becoming as ruthless as he was.
Childhood and Early Rise to Power
Rameses was a toddler when an infant Moses was discovered by his mother Tuya; during this period in history, his father Seti had ordered the death of all Hebrew boys after a prophecy saying that the slaves would be united under a leader chosen by God (similar to how Herod would, many years later, attempt another Massacre Of The Innocents). The young Rameses was by his mother's side as she took his new baby brother to meet the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh agreed to raise the infant, and Rameses presumably shared a happy childhood with Moses, accepting him as his own brother.
When we next meet them, Rameses and Moses are in their teens and prone to mischief, engaging in wild chariot races. Both brothers were competitive but fairly good-natured towards one another; however, their chariot race caused great damage to their surroundings, infuriating Seti who was harsh with his eldest son, calling him a "weak link," an insult that deeply wounded Rameses and would continue to affect him later in life.
However, a short time later, Rameses was appointed Prince Regent by his father (who was moved by an appeal by Moses on his brother's behalf), and he promptly appointed Moses as Royal Chief Architect. During the celebrations, Hotep and Huy were ordered to give Rameses a gift as a sign of respect for their new superior, and the two high priests offered Rameses a kidnapped woman from a desert tribe as his bride (or more likely, a concubine). However, due to her fiery nature, Rameses didn't want her and tried to give her to Moses, which simply angered her more and she fought back until she was humiliated by Moses; Rameses found this amusing and ordered the guards to "dry her up and have her delivered to Prince Moses' chambers" (although Moses ultimately set her free).
At a later point, Rameses was overseeing the building of a great temple when Moses (who had recently learned of his true Hebrew heritage) fought against a guard abusing an old slave and accidentally killed him in the process. Rameses was shocked and confused, and ran after his brother as he fled; he showed little concern over the death of the guard and even told Moses that, as royalty, he could see to it that the crime would never be heard of again. However, Moses was too full of regret and confusion and fled into the desert, leaving Rameses alone in Egypt.
Taking The Throne
During Moses' time in the desert, Rameses had taken power following the death of his father, and the oppression of the Hebrews had become worse as Rameses continued to build, determined to make a legacy as great as that of his father. When Moses returned, Rameses was overjoyed. Hotep and Huy were quick to try and ruin the reunion, however, by insisting Rameses enforce the death sentence on Moses for killing the guard; however, Rameses dismissed them and proclaimed Moses innocent of all crimes and a prince of Egypt. Unfortunately for Rameses, Moses was charged by God to stand against Rameses and free the Hebrews, which soon caused a confrontation between the two brothers.
Conflict With Moses
When Moses transformed his staff into a cobra as his first miracle, Rameses was amused and had Hotep and Huy perform a magic act of their own in an attempt to make Moses see otherwise. However Moses' cobra ate their cobras. Following this event, he motioned to Moses to follow him to a secluded area so as to talk alone. Once Rameses was away from the public eye, he conversed more openly with Moses, trying to justify not only his own actions but that of his father. However, he was visibly hurt when Moses rejected his words and handed back the ring Rameses had given him when he promoted him to Chief Architect. Feeling betrayed, Rameses became angry, telling Moses "I do not know this God" and that he would not let the Hebrews be set free, also ranting that he would not become the weak link as his father previously told him. Rameses then informed Moses that all slaves would have their workload doubled, implicitly blaming Moses or Moses' God.
When the two next met, Rameses was enjoying a boat ride on the Nile with his son when Moses once again demanded that he set "his people free". Rameses unsuccessfully tried to ignore Moses and promptly ordered his guards to bring Moses to him. His guards attempted to capture Moses, only for God to turn the Nile River into blood as another of his miracles. At first, Rameses was shocked at this show of power and demanded that Hotep and Huy explain how it was done. When the two magicians replicated the miracle via the use of a dye, Rameses' fear subsided and he laughed it off, then warned Moses that the "joke" must now end, unaware that this was just the beginning.
The two brothers' confrontation reached its climax during the event known as the Ten Plagues of Egypt, in which God unleashed ten plagues upon the kingdom of Egypt. Although the suffering was unbearable, Rameses refused to give in to Moses' demands; as a result, the people of Egypt suffered for many days and nights as the plagues manifested as frogs, lice, wild animals, death of livestock, fiery hail from the sky, painful boils, locusts, and darkness.
During the onset of the great darkness, Rameses was visited by Moses in the temple. They both recall the fun times they had shared together with Rameses wishing for things to go back to the way they were before. His son suddenly appears and wonders why Moses is hereafter giving Egypt so much trouble. Moses retorts back that Rameses' stubbornness was the real cause of all the trouble and pleads with him once more to let the Hebrews go, warning him that something much worse would happen if he refuses, resulting in the loss of everything he holds dear, including his own son. Rameses refuses to listen, paralleling his father when he expressed a desire to re-create the events of the massacre (stating that his father may have had the right idea about dealing with the Hebrews); this saddened Moses, who told Rameses that he had brought the final plague upon himself. Thus, due to Rameses' hubris, the Tenth Plague was unleashed upon Egypt. The Angel of Death descended from the heavens and killed all of the kingdom's firstborn children, including Rameses' son, while the firstborn children of the Hebrews were spared.
Overwhelmed with grief, Rameses told Moses that he and the Hebrews had his permission to go. Moses tried to comfort Rameses for his loss by putting his hand on his shoulder, but he angrily pulled himself away and demanded that Moses leave him. Shortly afterward, the Hebrews (along with some Egyptians) left Egypt behind and began their great exodus.
However, Rameses had not truly intended to let the Hebrews leave with their lives. He decided to murder them all, even if it meant killing his adopted brother. He set about across the desert, cornering them at the Red Sea alongside a small army. He charged at them with the intent of annihilating them; he would enact his vengeance. However, God intervened by sending a pillar of flame to stop Rameses and his army long enough for Moses to part the Red Sea using his staff. The Hebrews then proceeded to cross the sea.
However, Rameses would not stop and, once God removed the pillar of flame, he resumed his charge, prompting God to close the path made by Moses, drowning many of Rameses' men and sending Rameses himself hurling back onto the shore. He then yelled Moses' name in anger and sorrow, broken by defeat. Hearing Rameses' cries of defeat, Moses sympathizes over his brother's losses and bids one last farewell to him before leaving with the Hebrews.
It is unknown as to whether or not Rameses was able to return to his capital or if he died. Either way, his defeat shattered any illusion that he would ever make peace with his brother as while Rameses was clearly saddened about having to disown his brother, said sadness was overtaken by his rage and pride.
- He is Ralph Fiennes' first animated villainous role.
- Robert De Niro and Gary Oldman were both considered for the role of Rameses. De Niro would go on to voice Don Lino from Shark Tale, while Gary Oldman would voice Lord Shen from Kung Fu Panda 2, both of which are also DreamWorks movies.
- Like his father, Ramses is represented as a lion for his status as Pharaoh. In real life, Pharaohs were known to keep big cats and the lion was viewed as a symbol of kingship. In one scene, Rameses is setting on his throne with heads of a lion on each side. He claims to "the morning and evening star" which Horus is a falcon whose the right eye was the morning star and his left eye the evening star.
- Historically, the real Ramesses II is known as being close to, if not being, the greatest builder among the Pharaohs. He had extensive building projects throughout Egypt and Nubia. This is shown in the movie by Rameses's ambition and enthusiasm in his new role as Prince Regent to rebuilt the temple he and Moses destroyed. He had also built monuments of himself later on as Pharaoh that were shown being damaged by the plagues later on in the movie.
- Ramses II had 200 wives, 96 sons, and 60 daughters. By the time he was Pharaoh, he had 20 children. In the film, only one son is seen and none of his wives or daughters are there. However there is a woman standing next to Ramses's throne, possibly Nefertari.