Saturday, March 28, 2015

Goldblum Fest: The Animated Jeff Goldblum in "Prince of Egypt"


I love it when actors are not only capable, but actually skilled, at voicing characters for animated films. Most of my friends can attest to my love of animated films, some with trepidation and others with mild amusement. So when I realized that Goldlbum played a voice in one of my favorite animated films of all time, I was stoked! Do people use that word anymore? Probably not, but never mind! It's just kind of a shame he played a character that I really dislike. Yikes.

Goldblum played two animated characters that I am aware of: Aaron in The Prince of Egypt (yes, he's THAT annoying guy) and then he played Ajax in Zambezia (a character almost as equally hard to like as Aaron). I mean, come on, if he'd played the bad guy in either role, I probably would have loved him! As it is, he played the annoying guy . . . the self-righteous and judgmental guy in both films. What the heck is up with that? Oh, wait, maybe it's because he does tend to play the occasional self-righteous and judgmental person in live action films too. Hmm, there's a connection here someplace. Maybe it's . . . THE VOICE. Which I happen to love providing I can see the face that goes along with it.

Be that as it may, while Prince of Egypt it still as astoundingly awesome as ever, I was surprised to find that Zambezia is actually pretty cute too with a few good messages for its audience. Also, Zambezia reunites Jeff Goldblum with a costar from waaaaay back in the day . . . Leonard Nimoy. Even though I didn't care for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Nimoy and Goldblum both played roles in it, and at least managed to garner my interest for their scenes, which were entirely too few. So it was fun hearing their voices together again, even though Nimoy has Goldblum beat hands down for dramatic emphasis.

I'm not going to go into Zambezia for the sake of space and I can't write about everything Goldblum ever filmed, but let's just say that if you enjoy animated movies like Rio, Madagascar, and Legend of the Guardians, that you'll probably find it fun.


Prince of Egypt

Let's have a show of hands for everyone that grew up watching Prince of Egypt? It was actually one of the first films I ever saw in the theater, at least the first that I remember with any clarity. The music! The animation! The voices! The story! Plus one of the most incredible depictions of God that I've ever seen in film . . . the burning bush. It gives me shivers and brings tears to my eyes to this day. Everything was absolutely so perfect.

So, I was a little downhearted in realizing that Goldblum played Aaron. Yes, the brother to Moses. Correct again if you're remembering that he's also the guy who made a golden calf for the Israelites to worship while Moses was up on the mountain communing with God and receiving the Ten Commandments. Way to go Aaron, breaking those commandments before they eve made it down the mountainside!

Fortunately for movie viewers the film ends as Moses descends the mountain and for the Biblically uninformed there isn't even a hint of the Israelites sinning at that point. That would be kind of a terrible way to end a movie about God redeeming His people from captivity. So they avoid that sort of awkwardness which I didn't really appreciate as a child, but do appreciate now.

You know, after much deliberation, I realize why Aaron annoys me so much in this film. Yes, partially it's because Goldblum does such a great job of being annoying, but also partially it's because I suffer from the same doubt and fear as Aaron. He's the guy who tries to keep his sister safe when she just won't shut her mouth. Literally, if Moses hadn't experienced a miraculous flicker of memory, Miriam probably would have been either thrown into some sort of prison or killed for her insolence. Aaron is trying to contain her and he fails at it.

He has been beaten down so many times that he no longer has any real fight left. His people are being abused right and left and Aaron can do nothing for them, even if he wanted to. When the old man is about to be whipped to death, Aaron holds back from helping because he knows that if he does help, his life is likely forfeit and the old man will probably die anyway. He's caged by fear, by the fear of retribution, by the fear of failure, and by the hopelessness that his life will never change.

Believing in Moses is almost impossible for him until the miracles start happening. Aaron is like another Thomas, who doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead in the New Testament. He needed physical proof, some form of physical action with positive results. He is like me. Believing without evidence, without proof, and without any form of reason other than trust is so hard. I get him. I wish I didn't, but I do get him now, more than I did as a child.

Which is probably why Aaron's most inspiring moment really resonates with me now. God, through Moses, has parted the Red Sea. The children of Israel are hanging back, all reluctant to take that first step. Let's be honest, would you want to walk through a channel of water on the ocean floor? Could you? I don't know if I could get my legs to move, to be honest. The first person to step down and into that channel is Aaron. He looks at Moses with new eyes, eyes of confidence and faith, and he steps into that channel through the Red Sea. It's a powerful moment, a moment between brothers, but also a moment between Aaron and God.

So I don't mind that the movie doesn't cover Aaron's later sins. And maybe now I'll start appreciating Aaron more than I ever did before. If I had lived my entire life enslaved, how would I feel about a man claiming he's called to free me from that slavery, but all it seems is that he's heaping more work upon me as punishment from my master? Believing in him would be awfully hard. The point is that Aaron does finally believe, and that's worth a smile.

Allow me to say that it's also really cool knowing that Jeff Goldblum is Jewish and that he played Aaron. I didn't know or care as a child, but I do now, and I think that fact is pretty outstanding.

If you haven't seen Prince of Egypt, watch it. Age doesn't matter!

2 comments:

  1. This actually was indeed my first movie-going experience. It was a nice first choice. Terrific film. Powerful visuals. Spiritually resonating. Good stuff.

    Nice thoughts, regarding this Aaron. We must have empathy for those who share our own fears and doubts ... but our inclination is to dislike them, because we dislike most what we see in ourselves.

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    1. It's really easy to judge others based on their flaws when we have the same flaws ourselves. I didn't want to do that with Aaron, and I need to stop doing that with real people. Just like pretty much every story in the Bible, Aaron is an object lesson, and I'm glad the film portrayed him in a way that now resonates with me. :)

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