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An American archaeologist is in Egypt with his pregnant wife, searching for the tomb of a long-lost Egyptian queen. At the same moment he discovers the tomb and opens it's accursed seal, his wife gives birth to his daughter. Years later it transpires that the malevolent spirit of the Egyptian queen left the tomb just as he was entering, and possessed his baby girl. As the truth becomes clear, the archaeologist realizes that he must destroy his daughter in a ceremonial ritual, before she uses her awesome powers to threaten the safety of mankind. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
The Awakening is directed by Mike Newell and collectively adapted to screenplay by Clive Exton, Chris Bryant and Allan Scott from the Bram Stoker novel The Jewel of Seven Stars. It stars Charlton Heston, Susannah York, Jill Townsend and Stephanie Zimbalist. Music is by Claude Bolling and cinematography by Jack Cardiff.
Heston plays archaeologist Matthew Corbeck, who after discovering the tomb of disgraced Egyptian Queen Kara discovers his daughter is possessed by Kara's spirit and to save mankind he may have to destroy her.
It's honourably serious, a willing attempt to make an intelligent end of the world type picture with flecks of troubling family dynamics. The production value is top draw, every effort has been made to make it look great, with lavish photography (nice to see a film of this type actually be filmed in Egypt), skillfully crafted set designs and an evocative score that drifts across the sands with distinction. Hell, even the casting of Heston at a time when his star had considerably faded, still gave the production some weight. If only it wasn't so immeasurably dull and distant!
The makers, obviously tugging on the coat tails of The Omen and Mummy movies previously, never develop the edgy themes bubbling away just below the narrative's surface. It's often feels like a big compromise was put forward by an executive, a request that they must ensure deaths are the draw card and to hell with the possibility of making a substantial brain tickler. Or it could just be that there were too many writers in the mix?! So what we essentially get is a laboriously paced movie going through the motions until the next death scene arrives, and then it's back to some slow brooding again.
The cast are solid, the ending suitably downbeat, and if you like Omen type deaths then there are a couple here worth your time, but you may need plenty of energizer drinks to keep you awake first. 4/10
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