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BMZ Review: Mystery of the Nile
By Paula Tagle


Mystery of the Nile
Written by: Paula Tagle
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: May 9, 2005


Category: Reviews

Mystery of the Nile, the latest Large Format venture from Orbita Max and MacGillivray Freeman Films, documents the first full descent from source to sea of the Nile River and is not without its share of excitement and danger.  The film is expertly directed by Jordi Llompart with cinematographer Reed Smoot capturing some wonderful vistas of the Nile and its surrounding landscapes.  A team of explorers, led by geophysicist Pasquale Scaturro and kayaker Gordon Brown, journey this deadly river beginning in Sakala Springs in Ethiopia to the river's end in the Mediterranean crossing an incredible 3,260 miles.  The IMAX® format adeptly photographs the expedition from the gripping danger of white-water rapids to the exquisite beauty of Sudan's ancient stone pyramids.

Along with Scaturro and Brown, the team also included hydrologist Mohamed Megahed, journalist Saskia Lange, archaeologist Myriam Seco, and photographer Michel L'Huillier.  Each contribute to the narration of the film allowing a multiplicity of opinion.  Outfitted with two rafts and a kayak, the team set out in Ethiopia's Blue Nile immediately jumping into the danger of its white-water rapids.  The film thusly begins with nothing short of terror as the whirlpool rapids throw team members overboard on numerous occasions, even capsizing one of the rafts in one of the films most nail-biting sequences.

Any premature end to the expedition would have occurred here at its beginning as riverside bandits, crocodiles and sickness all contribute to the challenges the team faced.  Upon reaching Sudan, the film gradually eases into a travelogue focusing less on survival and more on the documentation of remote and beautiful landscape treasures.  A satisfactory historical summary is given to each locale, but the film has in total only slight educational value.

Upon reaching Egypt, the film continues down the sightseeing route, leaving most of the journey's excitement behind.  Although their passive entrance into the Mediterranean tapers into an anti-climactic finale, the spirit and courage of these explorers remains evident.  Despite the weakened ending, Mystery of the Nile is a vivid and wonderfully executed document revealing the Nile as both deadly and beautiful.

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