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Joseph: King of Dreams
Joseph king dreams.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by
  • Robert Ramirez
  • Rob LaDuca
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Eugenia Bostwick-Singer
  • Raymond Singer
  • Joe Stillman
  • Marshall Goldberg
Music by Daniel Pelfrey
Editing by
  • Michael Andrews
  • Greg Snyder
  • John Venzon
Studio DreamWorks Animation
Distributed by
  • DreamWorks Home Entertainment
Release date(s) November 7, 2000 (2000-11-07)
Running time 74 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Joseph: King of Dreams is a 2000 American animated biblical musical drama film. It is also the first and 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 serves as a prequel and spin-off to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt (as the biblical narrative of Joseph happens before that of Moses). Composer Daniel Pelfrey stated that the film was designed as a companion piece to Prince of Egypt, noting that though "Joseph turned out to be very different than Prince of Egypt, it was very challenging and rewarding".

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 is the youngest and most favored of Jacob's twelve sons, regarded as a "miracle child" because his mother Rachel had been thought infertile. Joseph grows conceited under his father's special treatment, and his elder half-brothers come to resent him. One night, Joseph dreams of a pack of wolves attacking the family's flock, and the next day the dream comes true. Another dream follows, in which Joseph sees his brothers bow before him; on telling them this, they hatch a plan to get rid of him, led by Judah. They sell him to a slave trader and take his torn coat back to their parents, convincing them that Joseph was killed by wolves.

In Egypt, Joseph is bought by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's guards, and gradually becomes his most trusted attendant, as well as befriending his beautiful niece Asenath. However, when Potiphar's unfaithful wife Zuleika, after being spurned by Joseph, lies that he had been the one making advances on her, Potiphar nearly has him executed, but Zuleika, feeling guilty, stops him. Potiphar realizes that Joseph is innocent of the crime, but to save face, he reluctantly has Joseph put in prison. Joseph finds himself imprisoned alongside the royal butler and 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 butler is released. The butler, however, forgets his promise to tell Pharaoh about Joseph, leaving him to languish in jail.

Meanwhile, Asenath secretly supplies food to Joseph regularly through the prison's skylight. She is nearly spotted by a guard while doing so one evening during a thunderstorm though, and is forced to drop the basket of food, which crashes to the ground of the prison and is eaten by rats, much to Joseph's anger. At his lowest point, Joseph climbs the walls of the jail to the skylight, cursing 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, 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.

Soon, Pharaoh comes to be troubled by nightmares which none of his advisors can interpret. Remembering Joseph, Pharaoh's butler advises him to send the now-widowed Potiphar to retrieve him. The two share a happy reunion, and Joseph forgives Potiphar for falsely imprisoning him. Joseph interprets the dreams as warnings of a long period of abundance being followed by an equally long famine to come after that may wipe out Egypt, and suggests that a fifth of each year's harvest be kept back for rationing. Impressed, Pharaoh makes Joseph his minister, 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.

Eventually, the sons of Jacob arrive in Egypt to buy grain due to a famine in their homeland. They do not recognize Joseph, who refuses to sell to them and accuses them of spying. The brothers offer to buy the grain, with the silver they sold Joseph for years before, claiming they need it to feed their elderly father and youngest brother. Joseph still refuses to sell them grain, and imprisons Simeon until they can prove that they have another brother to support. They reappear with a young man named Benjamin, revealed to be Joseph's almost identical younger brother, born during his absence, and who is now doted upon by Jacob. Benjamin tells Joseph that Rachel has died and Jacob has been inconsolable ever since Joseph was declared dead. Simeon is released and Joseph invites the brothers to a feast.

After the feast, Joseph has his golden chalice concealed in Benjamin's bag while no one is looking; and upon its discovery, orders that Benjamin be enslaved to see how the others will react. He 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, and that they cannot return without Benjamin, as losing another son would kill their father. 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.




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".

Pelfrey used choral choirs sparingly in his score, with notable examples being "a small female group in the beginning for what I was calling God's theme, and in the big scene at the end, which was the reunion of Joseph, his brothers and Jacob, his father". This was because the effect reminded him of angels, adding "I also I think it was more appropriate to the sonic tapestry and created a more uplifting feeling". He described his musical style in the film as "World/Orchestral", noting that the instruments used were more regional than specifically Egyptian, incprporating: "Duduk, Ney, Rebaba, Ban-Di, Bansuri, Moroccan Flute, Zampona, and a great variety of percussion including Djmbe, Darabuk, Dholak, Udu, etc etc". In regard to using instrumentation from an inaccurate historical context, he said "I always thought ... that the exact historical and geographical use of the instruments is not as important as the evocative or dramatic effect ... So, I didn't really concern myself too much with 'right place, right time'. A temp-track was made for the score, though Dreamworks "were not too attached to it"; some parts were tracked with "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" by Vaughan Williams.

Pelfrey said "Since I had never done a musical before, it was interesting to note the difference between producing these songs as opposed to doing a record. In a musical, the songs advance the story and I had to help that process, as well as make the songs belong to the fabric of the film and the palette of the score. Although this was animation, it certainly did not call for a cartoon approach, due to the depth of the story. The film needed more of a live-action treatment to the score. "Joseph: King of Dreams also allowed me to work with the best producers in the business and helped make this a very successful experience both personally and professionally." He explained "[Lucas Richman] is the reason the Symphonic Suite from Joseph was created. He contacted me about wanting to present it in a concert he was doing in Knoxville where he is the conductor and music director, so I created the suite especially for them. He has created a vibrant and thriving orchestra there and they were all very welcoming to me." It was performed in LA by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in August 2010.


A soundtrack was not released with the film.

All songs written and composed by John Bucchino. 

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Miracle Child"   Maureen McGovern, Russell Buchanan & David Campbell  
2. "Bloom"   Maureen McGovern  
3. "Marketplace"   Chorus  
4. "Whatever Road's at Your Feet"   David Campbell  
5. "You Know Better Than I"   David Campbell  
6. "More than You Take"   David Campbell & Jodi Benson  
7. "Bloom" (Reprise)"   Jodi Benson  

Differences from the Bible

The film designates that Judah is the eldest brother of Jacob's sons. In the story of Joseph in the Bible, Judah is actually the 4th son, though he received the firstborn blessing after his older brothers Reuben, Simeon and Levi were stripped of their birthright (Reuben for sleeping with his father's concubine, Simeon and Levi for their massacre of the Shechemites). This is mentioned in the Book of Genesis at 49:1-27 which mentions each of Jacob's twelve sons, by order of birth. The film also shows Rachel being alive when Joseph is a young man and Benjamin appearing the second time the brothers come to Egypt. In the Bible (Genesis 35:18-29), Rachel died after giving birth to Benjamin, who was a baby when Joseph's brothers sold him to the merchants. In the film, there is no mention of the daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah, though she is mentioned several times in Genesis, coming to prominence in Genesis 34.

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