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In ancient Egypt the Pharaoh Khu-fu is obsessed with acquiring gold and plans to take it all with him into the "second life." To this end he enlists the aid of Vashtar, an architect whose people are enslaved in Egypt. The deal: build a robbery-proof tomb and the enslaved people will be freed. During the years that the pyramid is being built a Cyprian princess becomes the pharaoh's second wife, and she plots to prevent Khufu from taking his treasure with him when he dies .. as well as helping him make the journey early. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
WILHELM SCREAM: Emanating from within a crocodile. See more »
Domesticated camels feature throughout the film, which is set in the early Old Kingdom. But the camel was not domesticated around Egypt until the end of the New Kingdom, some two thousand years later. See more »
I, Hamar, Lord High Priest of Egypt, am preparing a chronicle of the reign of Khufu, ruler of Egypt. Word has come that again he has been victorious in the war against our enemies and now Egypt has taken its place as the greatest of all nations in the world! Today, Pharaoh and his armies return.
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Because it belongs to a genre that has grown unhip ,Howard Hawks's magnificent epic ,his only movie in cinemascope ,gets incredibly low ratings."Rio Bravo" 's screenplay is not much better than "pharaohs" ,but it's fashionable to put a western on your best movies list.A sword and sandal cannot be serious (with the exceptions of "Ben Hur" and "Ten commandments" )and that's why "the Egyptian" and "land of the pharaohs " are despised and dismissed as cheesy.
Hawks's movie has one of the best ,most impressive and terrifying ending I know.These last pictures are a riveting tour de force with an editing to rival the best of Lang or Welles.The story spreads over fifteen years ,which is long for a relatively short work.Hawks was obviously more interested in his villains (Hawkins and Collins) than the heroes(the architect slave (Justice),his son and his people:both are fascinating.The pharaoh's dream of eternity is selfishness itself disguised as religion.To be buried with his riches to be able to enjoy them in his second life paradoxically seems a pagan attitude;the architect ,in direct contrast to him,is a slave who 's got nothing and he did not believe in life after life:it might make think of a Jew but neither him nor his people seem to have a religion,which is a very original move for a peplum (in Curtiz's "the Egyptian" ,the precedent year,the same went for the hero Sinouhe:these are the only examples in an epic).Hawks might have been influenced by Lang's wife's screenplay "das Indische Grabmal" ,which Lang finally took to the screen in the late fifties but which was filmed by others before him.Do not let the Faulkner reference fool you.He reportedly wrote half a page of script which can be summed up as follows:"Pharaoh pays a visit to the pyramid while the workers are sweating blood to get it done and he asks "how 's the work coming on?".
Nellifer is Joan Collins at her bitchiest: a greedy woman,who had already problems with dynasties.Unlike pharaoh,she wants to have her cake and eat it.Her acting is pure camp ,which fits the character like a glove.Her fate will make your hair stand on end.
Hawks makes a wonderful use of the cinemascope , when he displays a cast of thousands and when he directs his characters in the confined atmosphere of the pyramid.He succeeds in creating a sublime contrast between the dark subterranean of the grave and the luminous blue sky of the desert,particularly in the last sequences ,I say it again,among the very best of the fifties cinema.
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