In eighteenth dynasty Egypt, Sinuhe (Edmund Purdom), a poor orphan, becomes a brilliant physician and with his friend Horemheb (Victor Mature) is appointed to the service of the new Pharoah (Michael Wilding). Sinuhe's personal triumphs and tragedies are played against the larger canvas of the turbulent events of the eighteenth 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
This movie was based on the 1945 historical novel, and international bestseller, of the same name by Finland's Mika Waltari, which was based on the ancient Egyptian "Story of Sinuhe". Ten years later, he wrote a novel titled "The Etruscan", and nine years after that, "The Roman". See more »
Sinuhe uses a modern-day spade to bury his parents. See more »
[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 version released on VHS in the U.S. removes some scenes (3 minutes or so of footage) to accommodate a 136-minute runtime. See more »
Maybe it's just a personal affection for this screen version of the Mika Waltari novel, or a fondness for things Egyptian (I grew up loving to visit the mummies in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts) but I think Maltin is a tad tough on this rather good film. The production values are great regarding color and cinematography, and it appears some effort went into historical authenticity (much of it from the novel, I'm sure). Purdom is admittedly a bit stiff in the lead role, but one can accept this as part of Sinuhe's character. Victor Mature is, well, Victor Mature. Peter Ustinov is a delight to watch in this type of role, which he always did so well and so wittily. Bella Darvi's performance as Nefer is classically camp, and I find even Michael Wilding's rather dry portrayal of Akenaten to have its own appeal. The historical oddity of Akenaten's monotheism, a brief detour in ancient Egypt's theological history, is interesting, as is Akenaten himself, and well worth reading about; the religious wars portrayed here have a basis in fact. An interesting footnote regarding Darvi, whose birth name was Bayla Wegier: she was a Polish émigré who producer Darryl Zanuck and his wife Virginia took under their wing (I believe they may even have adopted her). Her screen name Darvi is formed from Zannuck's and his wife's first names. She continued her acting career in France, but never achieved great success and, after a rather unhappy life, died at her own hand in 1971. Altogether this is an interesting film and enjoyable to watch for the visual values alone. American Movie Classics shows this occasionally in letterbox, which is essential to capturing the scope and sweep of the story.
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