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.
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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
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.