When some archaeologists from the Antiquities Department in Cairo notice that several artefacts bearing royal names from the 21st dynasty keep appearing on the antique black market, an expedition is sent to Thebes, the capital of the Pharaonic Empire.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
When I first saw the huge pieced statues on Turkish Mount Nemrut, I figured space-drenched brooding doom would make a suitable soundscape & was startled to hear deep ambient drones in this film soak palace walls & columns, upright like solidified sand piles in time-dismantled hourglasses. I waited for an Egyptian Golem to punish the grave looters but the incantatory reawakening here is of another life extending order
This is perhaps the most awe-inspiring ghost story the cinema has given us. The central confrontation is one of absolute philosophy & spirituality: the materialist mountain dwellers who comprehend the past as nonexistent & illusory, its relics as exploitable, & the city dwellers who esteem the past as sacred, worthy of devotion. Secret figures through ancient architecture/hugely mysterious, Murnau-like mise-en-scene.
Easily one of the finest films to ever come out of Egypt. Central dynamic though feels off: desert tribe vs. city, the former as thieves, the latter as enlightened, civilized humanity. Other tensions give it many layers. Familial loyalty vs principles. Heritage as patrimony or as commodity. Stark, desolate desert and ancient, defaced statuary complement this tale inspired by The Book of the Dead.
This magnificent, haunting, eerie film in its recent restorative transformation was screened recently in Wellington New Zealand, at the International Film Festival to a spellbound audience. It is like a rare, rich treasure unearthed from the cinema vaults and one wonders what other works will be revealed in time from the past.