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BMZ Review: Mysteries of Egypt
By Herb Lash


BMZ Review: Mysteries of Egypt
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: January 2001


Category: Reviews

Today, our passing leaders worry over their personal legacies - over how history will judge their deeds, their intentions, their failures and their triumphs.  Biographies, TV interviews, spin-doctors, presidential libraries and speaking engagements are all employed to create a specific impression intended to stand the test of time. None of this will work. It is clear from watching the Mysteries of Egypt that there is only one way to keep humanity forever enthralled by your little life - you must build Giant Pyramids in the desert.

Mysteries of Egypt proves once again that the next best thing to experiencing the real thing is an Imax film. Any tourist can tell you that the Giza Pyramids are difficult to film badly - but Imax size and scope conveys a sense of place and mystery that is palpable.  Familiar images of ancient Egypt are made fresh as the camera approaches almost timidly, with respect -majestic and quieting moments of inspiration follow.  The film fascinates as an introduction to Egypt and it will surprise those who think they have already seen the many faces of the Land of the Pharaohs.

Omar Sharif brings his considerable presence to the film as an avuncular guide to the sites, legends and mysteries of Egypt - he shares a coffee and his thoughts with an inquisitive young girl. The scenes featuring Sharif are part of a straightforward introductory narrative - but they merit mention because they surmount the IMAX®-specific problem of voice-mouth synchronization. Sharif's careful and natural annunciation give proof that it is possible to have Imax actors deliver extended lines of dialogue - without having to resort to Kung Fu style voice-over dubbing.

The film weaves a good tale out of archeologist Howard Carter's discovery of King Tut's tomb and of the supposed curses that haunted his discovery. The enigmatic Sphinx gets its due, the Pyramids at Giza are wondered over and a few lesser known monuments, obelisks and ruins are lingered upon. But where the film truly surprises is along the river Nile. The narrow, tamed and lazy Nile is shown to have a wild side. Helicopter shots near the Lake Victoria source of the Nile show a thundering, wild and unrestrained river - one that carves a path through lush vegetation and steep cliffs.  The trip down the Nile affords the filmmakers the opportunity to offer up an Egypt that looks nothing like the postcard images the world has grown accustomed to.

Mysteries of Egypt strikes an engaging balance between travelogue, documentary and storytelling.

IMAX® is a registered trademark of IMAX Corporation.

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