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Abd'el Hakim Awyan,
John Anthony West
Each of the four separate episodes -rather independent chapters- presents some of the findings of Egyptology, largely in the form of realistically presented docudrama, a splendid spectacle by peplum-standards, yet unusually true and hence surprising for non-specialist viewers in various details. Remarkable is the revealed contrast between the image-building clichés presented by the official, mostly monumental sources, glorifying deified pharaohs' glorious reign and triumphs and 'celestial' deities, and the more mundane reality, deduced largely from other archaeological findings, showing more human vices, misery, crime... Written by
The most significant aspect of this drama/documentary series is that each episode, portraying life in ancient Egypt, is based on a surviving text from the period.
Now, I daresay life is too short for each of us to access these texts, let alone decipher the language or separate the wheat from the chaff. So I reckon this series is the closest that most of us will get to experiencing ancient Egyptian life, and there is a real feeling of being a "witness" to events which is a tribute to the program makers.
There has been an incredible degree of care and responsibility in bringing the text to the screen. The stories reveal how the values of this distant civilisation mix with the universals of the human condition. There is no sensationalism, and the intrinsic narrative drive of the stories and their meticulous realisation draw in the viewer.
Where there is uncertainty in the text, this is stated - for once the viewer is given credit for some intelligence. The dialogue is subtitled, and my suspicion is that the actors are REALLY speaking Ancient Egyptian but this is nowhere made clear.
I think it is difficult to create a credible drama with (some) actors in loin cloths, as one thinks "sword and sandal" epics! However, this has been achieved. The cinematography is impressive with a stylish beige and pink hue (the colours of linen and skin) unifying the visuals. The computer graphics are seamless - impressing without intruding.
I find it incredible that a program of such quality has been made in the age of modern television. These programs will work all over the world and for decades to come - because their appeal is timeless.
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