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
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 »
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 »
THE LOVES OF PHAROAH Stunning Reminder of Lubitsch's Masterly Handling of the Epic
TCM presented a beautiful print of Ernst Lubitsch's Egyptian epic THE LOVES OF PHAROAH (1922). Released by Paramount in the US, the film was Lubitsch's last feature in his home country of Germany before setting up camp in Hollywood. (That's another story all together.) The "Lubitsch Touch" in his historically-based epics, such as CARMEN, MADAME DUBARRY, SUMURUN, or ANNA BOLEYN, is the director's ability to present us with the overwhelming sight of the plight of the crowd and then gradually direct our attention to a personal drama taking place within the epic sweep of time and destiny. (He does so more genuinely than DeMille, who seemed to have imitated this approach.) Then, of course,there are the sexual situations, the uncontrollable attractions, and the inevitable rejections that determine the fates of the characters, a theme continued into the director's sophisticated comedies and, later, witty musicals that followed this film. LOVES OF PHAROAH has stunning visual moments both large and small: the crowds working, revolting, being manipulated by rulers to the turning of Emil Jannings to a wall and dropping an outstretched hand, showing his reluctant realization of the futility of his affections. The film is deliberately paced but never draggy. Though there are moments of regret (the depiction of the Ethiopians is particularly stereotyped and inconsistent), this foray into Arabian exotica is a dramatic improvement over the stilted presentations seen in SUMURUN from a couple of years before. With THE LOVES OF PHAROAH, Lubitsch reaches the apex of his epic years (though THE PATRIOT may have reached greater heights, though we'll never know until a print is found).
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