Egypt in Hollywood
A blog about the pros and cons of antiquity films

Out of History and onto the Set

There is a big difference between movies that should be taken seriously and movies that should simply be viewed as entertainment. In The Mummy (1932 & 1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001), there are more false depictions than there are true. The entire plot of these two movies cannot be taken seriously; a mummy who comes back to life as a cursed being, with the goal of resurrecting his love and taking control over the world. First, the obvious, Ancient Egyptians could not resurrect someone and mummies cannot come back to life. In addition, a person cannot be mummified alive, the process would kill the person immediately. After removing the internal organs and the brain there is no way a person could then be wrapped and buried alive.

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy (1999) then continues by falsely identifying Imhotep as the Ramses’ priest and lover to the Pharaoh’s mistress. Imhotep was the great priest of Djoser who created the concept for the Step Pyramid. He was a great man of architecture and medicine who was later combined with the Greek God of medicine, Asclepius, and even to Jesus Christ.

His name, Imhotep, even means “one who comes in peace,” which is far from the movie’s depiction. The movie also introduces the Book of the Dead (gives life) and the Book of the Living (takes life away). The real book of the dead did in a way give life, but only in the afterlife. It was a guide to the underworld that would lead your soul safely through the twelve gates. The movie depicts the two books as normal books with a cover, binding, and turning pages, similar to what you see today. This is a huge fabrication. In Ancient Egypt, books were not even invented; Egyptians were used scrolls and would not have been turning the pages of a modern-day book.

The Mummy Returns (2001)

The Mummy Returns (2001)

While both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns offer false action packed entertainment, they do hold a small amount of truth. The movies use hieroglyphs in a reasonably realistic way, and they mention historical events and details throughout the films; however, they are overpowered by the legends and science fiction.

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One Response to “Out of History and onto the Set”

  1. This was a movie that actually creeped me out, sort of. I am glad you mention that Imhotep was misrepresented. I think I remember watching some show on the Discovery channel about him which argued as much.


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