This movie isn't as terrible as some reviewers have made it out to be. Let's say, overall, about average for its type. The photography is more than adequate, the locations unmistakably including Egypt. The score does its job well. And the acting is on par with Charlton Heston's usual. He can do better when he wants to, as in "Khartoum." Stephanie Zimbalist is fresh, attractive, and seductive -- both before and after she is possessed by the spirit of Kara. She's pretty sexy too, decked out in tight bell-bottomed slacks and wearing her long auburn hair held back by a barette -- is that the word? One of her more exciting moments comes when she steps down in the tomb and kisses her father warmly on the lips. She seems to have not much more than a few expressions to work with, which is okay; Gary Cooper only had one and a half. She relies mainly on an intense stare and half smile, which can signal either happiness or evil intent. The editing is confusing and the ending leaves the story open for a sequel which will probably never come. The story itself is dated, although spiced up with some Omen-like executions.
Heston would never get away with removing those artifacts from Egypt today. Not unless there was a huge under-the-table payoff made. No more Elgin-marble controversies. The archaeological techniques are dated as well. The archaeologists we seem to think of as heroes would be considered criminally sloppy by today's standards. If you excavate a site now, you don't just dig into it to see what you can find. You dig a trench into the site, from the outside inward, so you leave most of the site intact for future research. We don't know what analytic techniques will be available a hundred years from now, anymore than Carnaveron and the rest could foresee Carbon dating. Brouilloin, the information theorist, called this "the principle of fundamental surprise." If we knew now what we will have discovered a hundred years from now, we would already have discovered it. What Schliemann did at Troy was simply dig it up until all the information was gone, the archaeological equivalent of strip mining. King Tut's tomb was handled just as badly. When they first cracked the wall of the as-yet unsullied part of the tomb, a breath of air whooshed out from the opening. That air was three thousand years old. It was the same air breathed by the Egyptians who built the tomb. We will never know its chemical composition or what kind of particulate matter might still have been floating around. And the soil of the tomb, which surely contained biological materials like pollen and the residue of three-thousand-year-old microorganisms, was treated like -- well, like ordinary dirt.
The movie has few zingers. It moves slowly and deliberately, a pace that many modern moviegoers are no longer used to, after so much exposure to MTV techniques. And the director -- all directors -- need to have it pounded into their skulls that when a character looks into a mirror on screen, the audience is not supposed to see her staring obliquely into the camera lens. Not only does the use of this stupid trick contribute absolutely nothing, but it is distracting and jarring, and an insult to at least some of the viewers.
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