My family and I just recently watched the movie “Joseph: King of Dreams.” It is a cartoon movie that was created in the year 2000 by DreamWorks. Although the title of the movie caused a bit of skepticism, expectations were still high. And so it began. A disclaimer immediately came up that read:
“The motion picture you are about to see is an adaptation of the Joseph story in the book of Genesis.”
Ok, so far so good. But then another paragraph appeared.
“While artistic and historical license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is cherished by millions of people worldwide.”
Oh boy. This barely gave me any hope as I wondered just how much “license” had been taken. And as we continued to watch, I soon found myself hoping that this license was suspended.
The movie began with a song about Joseph (voiced by Ben Affleck) being a “dream come true,” since his mother Rachel previously couldn’t conceive. The song is played to a montage of clips highlighting moments of his life from infancy to his teenage years. One of these clips included him watching his brothers laboriously carry water from a well to a field of wheat. He then takes a staff and digs a ditch to the field from the well, and breaks a hole in the well to water the field. He sure was clever. Apparently as clever as those who made up the scene that is foreign to Scripture. In another scene his mother sews him his varicolored coat. She then presents it to him with his father. The Bible doesn’t say anything about this. Instead, his father made him the coat and gave it to him [Genesis 37:3].
After the song, the movie begins to show that Joseph has a gift of dreaming future events. This isn’t first displayed the way the Bible first displays it. No… Rather, Joseph has a dream about a wolf that will kill one of their sheep. The brothers don’t believe him, but then it happens. He THEN has the dream about his brothers’ sheaves of wheat bowing down to his sheaf of wheat. Then the same dream changed. It became a scene in which 11 stars bowed to him. The Scriptures do show that he has a dream in which his brother’s sheaves of wheat bow to his sheaf. [Genesis 37:7-8]. And at a later time, he has a dream where the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowed to him [Genesis 37:9]. In the movie, Joseph has the wheat dream and tells it to his mom. His brothers overheard their conversation, and began to ask him about the dream – but Joseph was hesitant until, finally, he told them. Genesis 37:5 says, “Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.” Nothing about first speaking to his mom and being hesitant to disclose it to his brothers.
Just in case you actually want to watch the movie for yourself, I won’t detail it entirely. I will just say that although these points aren’t many, they are descriptive of the rest of the movie. Just really quick (since I can’t help it), other scenes involve:
Potiphar learns that his wife alleges she is pursued by Joseph. When he asks Joseph about this in front of her, he denies it. When Potiphar looks at his wife he understands that she was lying and throws Joseph in jail.
Potiphar later releases Joseph from jail and reconciles with him.
Joseph gets married and has two kids before his brothers ever come to Egypt.
Joseph has to learn to forgive his brothers and how to control the anger he had toward them for trying to kill him.
His brothers reassure Joseph that God had intended what happened for the purpose of saving many people! Talk about backwards!
If you do decide to watch the movie, please read Genesis chapters 27 to 47. You will quickly find how much extra “stuff” is shoved into the story. It’s as though DreamWorks felt the story just isn’t interesting enough on its own. Perhaps they feel like people won’t like it if it is word for word from the Scriptures. If this is how the text will be handled, don’t touch it.
This movie gets 2 stars because it will drive you to anger, and that anger will drive you to search the Scriptures.