In eighteenth-dynasty Egypt, Sinuhe, a poor orphan, becomes a brilliant physician and with his friend Horemheb is appointed to the service of the new Pharoah. Sinuhe's personal triumphs and tragedies are played against the larger canvas of the turbulent events of the 18th dynasty. As Sinuhe is drawn into court intrigues, and bizarre secrets are revealed to him, he learns the answers to the questions he has sought since his birth. Short on historical accuracy but strong on plot and characterization. Written by
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[Older Sinuhe voiceover]
I, Sinuhe the Egyptian, write this. In my place of exile on the shores of the Red Sea. There is no more desolate spot on earth. Soon the jackals and the vultures will make a poor meal of what is left of me. No monument will mark my resting place. I will leave only this, the story of my life. I have lived fully and deeply. I have tasted passion, crime and even murder. It is for you to judge me. You must weigh the good against the evil, the passion against the...
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"The Egyptian" has several pluses that make up for a rather slow pace. There is plenty to the story, which involves a lot of action as well as some interesting themes, and there is a lot of good scenery and cinematography. Most of the cast is pretty good, and there is an assortment of interesting characters.
The setting in ancient Egypt works well and is used to good effect. It makes for many interesting sights, which are filmed nicely and used well in the story. The plot does a good job of weaving the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, who tried to bring monotheism to Egypt, into the lives of the main characters. As the central character, Edmund Purdom is all right, but some of the other characters often command more attention. Victor Mature is particularly convincing as the no-nonsense Horemheb, and Peter Ustinov steals more than one scene as Purdom's assistant.
The only real flaw is the length. While there is plenty to the story, there are times when it moves quite slowly, and it doesn't seem as if it would have been all that hard to shorten some of the scenes. In particular, some of the speeches that summarize the conflict of ideas among the characters would have been more effective if they had not been quite so wordy.
But overall, this is a good movie, and it works pretty well both as a period piece and as a story.
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