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The Loves of Pharaoh (1922)
"Das Weib des Pharao" (original title)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 303 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 13 critic

The Ethiopian King offers his daughter to a powerful Pharaoh to secure peace between the two countries.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Paul Biensfeldt ...
Menon
Friedrich Kühne ...
Oberpriester
Albert Bassermann ...
Sothis
...
Ramphis
...
Samlak
Lyda Salmonova ...
Makeda
Dagny Servaes ...
Theonis
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tina Dietrich
Waldemar Potier
Elsa Wagner
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Storyline

The Ethiopian King Samlak offers his daughter Makeda to the powerful Pharaoh Amenes in order to secure peace between the two countries. What was intended as a political move ends as a debacle. Instead of Makeda, Amenes chooses Samlak's beautiful slave girl Theonis. Nevertheless, Amenes can not secure the love of Theonis as she is in love with the young Egyptian Ramphis. Having suffered humiliation, the Ethiopians declare war on Egypt. Amenes is injured in a battle and perishes - but only seemingly. The happy union between Theonis and Ramphis is in peril when Pharaoh Amenes returns to claim his wife and his throne. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

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Details

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Release Date:

11 August 1922 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

The Loves of Pharaoh  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(restored)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peculiar alterations were made to the original German version in the Russian, Italian and US release versions: The Russian version shows the Pharaoh as a tyrannical ruler; harsh and despotic. The Italian version, on the other hand, emphasizes the love-stricken, vulnerable Pharaoh. He eventually loses his power as a result of his love for the beautiful slave girl. Presumably, this portrayal was not acceptable in Russia at the time and the film was edited accordingly. In the US release version the film ends with Ramphis's rise to power and the happy union between him and Theonis. The return of the Pharaoh and the subsequent tragedy is omitted in favor of a happy ending to satisfy the expectations of the US audiences. See more »

Goofs

When he is reigning as Pharoah, Amenes (Emil Jannings) has a shaved head. When he reappears after having been thought dead, he has a full head of hair. See more »

Connections

Version of The Pharaohs' Woman (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating Egyptian epic
24 June 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

I viewed an incomplete print of 'The Wife of the Pharaoh' that was reconstructed (from several sources) by Stephan Droessler of the Film Museum in Munich. Even in remnant form, this is a phenomenal film: an epic piece of film-making, with 6,000 extras and elaborate sets. 'The Wife of the Pharaoh' is the nearest Ernst Lubitsch came to making a film like 'Metropolis'.

'The Wife of the Pharaoh' was released in 1922, the same year that Englishman Howard Carter unsealed Tutankhamen's tomb ... but at this time, much of the most important work in Egyptology was being done by Germans, and German interest in ancient Egypt was high indeed. This film is set in dynastic Egypt (Middle Kingdom, by the look of it) ... and the sets, costumes and props are vastly more convincing than anything done by Hollywood in this same era in films such as 'King of Kings', "Noah's Ark" and the Babylonian sequences of 'Intolerance'.

There are of course a few errors in this movie: the elaborate Double Crown symbolising the two kingdoms of Egypt is the proper size and shape, yet the actors heft it about so easily that it's clearly a prop made from some improbably light substance. The pharaoh receives papyrus scrolls bearing messages written in hieroglyphics; this is wrong (the messages would have been written in hieratic, and the king would probably require a scribe to read them on his behalf), yet somebody made a commendable effort to use the proper hieroglyphics ... which is more than Universal Studios bothered to do in any of those 1930s mummy flicks.

Emil Jannings gives an operatic performance as the (fictional) king Amenes. The king of the Ethiopians (Paul Wegener), hoping to make peace with Egypt, offers his daughter Theonis to become the wife of Amenes.

But Theonis falls in love with Ramphis, the handsome son of the king's adviser Sothis. (Ramphis wears a hairdo stolen from Prince Valiant: one of the few really ludicrous errors in this film.) Amenes sentences the lovers to death, then offers to spare Ramphis from execution (sentencing him to hard labour for life) if Theonis will consent to love only Amenes.

There are some truly spectacular scenes in this film, very impressive even in the partial form which I viewed. Paul Wegener gives a fine performance as Samlak, king of the Ethiopians, but he looks like he escaped from a minstrel show: to portray an Ethiopian, Wegener wears blackface and body make-up, and a truly terrible Afro wig. And since his daughter Theonis is presumably also an Ethiopian, why is she white?

There are fine performances by Lyda Salmonova as a (white) Ethiopian slave-girl (the nearest equivalent to Aida in this operatic story) and by Albert Bassermann as the adviser who is spitefully blinded at the pharaoh's order. Theodor Sparkuhl's camera work is superlative, as always, and the art direction is brilliant. Although I viewed only an incomplete version of this film, I've read a surviving screenplay; the script (with some lapses in logic) is definitely the most ridiculous part of this film. But the favourable aspects of this movie very definitely outweigh its flaws. I'll rate 'The Wife of the Pharaoh' 9 out of 10.


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