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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>
Hawks had between 3,000 and 10,000 extras working each day during the fifty-plus day shooting schedule. The government supplied those extras, half of whom were soldiers in the Egyptian Army. See more »
Due to the temperature of Egypt it was customary for women to shave their heads and wear wigs of either human hair or woven wool on fine skull caps. The women did not have lovely flowing hair of their own. 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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Land of the Pharaohs is a fascinating, sometimes morbid glimpse into the Hollywoodized past. Unlike many epics, the film forsakes the usual Judeo-Christian perspective in favor of a completely pagan outlook. That, combined with some striking scenes involving the building of Khufu's pyramid, makes this worthwhile entertainment.
Over the years, many have criticized the film, including Howard Hawks, Hawkins and Collins. On close examination, their criticism of the dialogue is only partially justified. While there is some verbosity, and the discourse between Khufu and his first wife over his desire for a son seems unnecessary if not ridiculous(in this instance actions would speak louder than words)the dialogue is more than serviceable. During the funeral ritual for the heroic dead, the grand, evocative speech is even inspired.
Hawks also lamented that the film contained "no one to root for." Indeed, Hawkins' Pharaoh is decisive, infrequently warm and unquenchably greedy. As Princess Nellifer, Joan Collins is even more unsavory. There exists however, a necessary counterpoint in the character of Vashtar, who designs the pyramid in order to free his people. James Robertson Justice gives a sympathetic performance as the designer who is alternately good natured, thoughtful, and indignant at the pharaoh's cruelty. As the pharaohs advisor, Alexis Minotis manages a remarkable acting feat by enforcing Khufu's will and simultaneously evoking audience sympathy. As Vashtar's son, Dewey Martin's All-American boy persona is the only off key note.
Despite the generally capable acting, the film's chief attraction is the abundant spectacle. The thousands of workers toiling to build the pyramid, and the colorful court pageantry, are what linger most in the viewer's mind. The much-discussed ending may or may not be historically accurate, but is nevertheless filmed with a chilling sense of realism. In short, Land of the Pharaohs is an interesting thematic departure from the epics of the 1950s.
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