An Upper-Egyptian clan robs a cache of mummies and sells the artifacts on the illicit antiquities black market. After a conflict within the clan, one of its members goes to the police, helping the Antiquities Service find the cache.
Universally recognized as one of the greatest Egyptian films ever made, The Night of Counting the Years is based on a true story: in 1881, when precious artifacts began showing up at market, it was discovered that members of the ancient Horbat tribe were secretly raiding Deir al-Bahari, the site of a legendary cache of royal mummies. The tribe had little livelihood other than selling antiquities, putting them in conflict with the Egyptian government's Antiquities Organization. After reading the script, Roberto Rossellini agreed to lend his name to the project, and Shadi Abdel Salam's film was completed in 1969. This cinematic treat was extremely difficult to see from the 1970s onward until last year's beautiful restoration by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation. Using original 35mm camera and sound negatives preserved at the Egyptian Film Center in Giza, the restoration preserves the film's poetic beauty, its evocative sense of history, and its themes of desecration and ...Written by
"Al-Mummia" is a tragedy of the collision if two cultures. The effendis of Cairo are loyal to the history of the 21st Dynasty. the tribe of people dwelling among ancient tombs are sustained by and called on to be loyal to the ways of their more immediate ancestors. The one group sees hierogylphs as inscrutable or meaningless, the other can apparently read them right off. The stateliness of the narrative style of the movie some might say is operatic, or rather, it has the solemnity of ancestral ways. In particular, the movie is a rare success in conveying the sacrality of artifacts of the particular religion of the pharaohs. The camera, for example, cautiously follows a "secret trail" into a tomb, watches a dark corner being turned before it turns itself, shows the desecration of prying the lid of a sarcophagus and touching the mummy inside. (I may be particularly vulnerable, taken on trips as a child to a museum where I was dared to see into a mummy by x-ray.)
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