Can anyone recall times in their lives, when interests become part of who they are? All boiling down to one exact moment when you first came across something, that would transcend to be unimaginably amazing in every sense, as you become completely mesmerized by it forever. For me, certain films resonate this into my life interests, and 2 films do this no better than The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Some of you might remember these movies as pure brilliance despite the lack of historical accuracy among them, while others may be more sceptical of their place in block buster history. However, these movies only used Ancient Egypt as their setting, taking certain aspects from this part of history to shape the stories within. No part of them was meant to represent historical accuracy, merely historical fiction for the action adventure universal audience of the millennium. These films sparked a lifelong interest in Ancient Egypt, and let’s face it, how many of you would have taken Egyptology as an option in First Arts? It isn’t hard to be fascinated by the splendour of the monuments, or the mysteriousness of the mythology of the Ancient Nile. My interest goes back to watching The Mummy quite repetitively when I was 10. Who was not taken by Rick’s heroism, Evy’s intelligence and beauty (kind of an on screen Lisa Simpson), and Jonathan’s comedic humour?
The first of the series, The Mummy, was released in 1999. Directed by Stephen Sommers, the film was a loose remake of the 1932 film The Mummy (Freund, 1932). The film opens in 1290 BC in the Ancient city of Thebes in Egypt, as we witness the murder of Pharaoh Seti I when he finds out his mistress Anck-su-Namun is having an affair with the high priest Imhotep. He is killed by their hands. His bodyguards rush in as Anck-su-Namun kills herself stating that her body is not his temple. Imhotep attempts to resurrect her at Hamunaptra, city of the dead, only to be found and sentenced to the Hom Dai. The worst of all Ancient Egyptian curses, and one so horrible it was never to be practiced as if he were resurrected, he would arise a walking disease. He would be a plague upon man-kind with the glory of invincibility. Now, flash forward to the golden age of Egyptology in the 1920’s as we meet an inquisitive, intelligent but slightly clumsy young Egyptologist named Evelyn Carnahan working at the Cairo museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Jonathan, her brother, turns up with a (what Evy calls) a ‘puzzle box’ which contains a map to the lost city of Hamunaptra. They get little help from the museum curator so set off to find the man that Jonathan stole the box from. They set Rick O’Connell free at a local prison, and he becomes their guide to the city. The journey turns into a major expedition with a larger group being led by Benny, an old friend of Rick’s, into the desert to find the city as well. The film unfolds as Evy reads The Book of the Dead found at Hamunaptra, and resurrects Imhotep. A race to save the world follows, as the audience is only brought deeper into the lives of the characters and the world of The Mummy. I would recommend anyone to see this film, as it is a classic among historical fiction, comedy, drama, and fantasy. The film also budded the career of Rachel Weisz, who played Evy, who would go one to win an Academy Award for her role in The Constant Gardener (Meirelles, 2005).
The film was followed by an actual good sequel in 2001 with The Mummy Returns (Sommers). All the main cast from the first movie came back with the same director, as the characters individual stories develop 10 years after the first movie. Dwayne Johnson also stars as The Scorpion King, in which a spin-off series was developed based on his story. The Mummy Returns has opening scenes set in London, with many events occurring at The British Museum, as well as inaccurate models represented by Tower Bridge in place of Westminster Bridge next to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
It was eventually followed by another sequel in 2008, which we don’t talk about. One of the reasons for this is because Rachel Weisz didn’t reprise her role, and a different actress replaced her.