This autumn, Tom Cruise brings one of the oldest mysteries back to our living room: THE MUMMY.
A TRIP TO THE PAST
The story is old, very old. It much older than the pyramids. In times, when people believed deeply in a myriad of gods, pharaohs, and priests tried to protect their burial chambers against intruders and thieves. For that reason, their architects built ingenious protection systems and traps. However, never ever a protection was more powerful than the curse of the Mummy. Those, who entered the holy place were cursed forever.
Almost hundred years ago, this legend experienced a rebirth, when Howard Carter discovered the intact tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun in November 1922. After the archeologist opened the burial chamber, some mysterious fatalities aroused the interest of the public. In the night, when the grave was opened the first time, a cobra killed Carter’s canary. The Egyptian cobra was seen as guardian of the pharaohs. From now, the media and public talked about a bad omen.
The dead of Lord Carnarvon, financial backer of the exhibition, short time after his visit of the tomb as well as the mysterious inscription on a clay tablet, which was found in the tomb, fueled the media interest. Sir Alan Gardiner, who is regarded as one of the premier Egyptologists of the 20th century, translated the hieroglyphs in the following way and, so, the “Curse of the Pharaoh” was reborn.
THE REVIVAL OF THE MUMMY
There’s no question that Hollywood took up that special subject. Thus, Universal Pictures presented the „The Mummy“ to an excited audience the first time in the year of 1932. The legendary Boris Karloff stared in the horror movie. It shows the rebirth of a cursed pharaoh, who seeks his big love, and who looks for revanche as well. Now, 85 years later, Universal Pictures and Tom Cruise have changed the old bandages to present us a contemporary story of the old legend.
NICK MORTEN (TOM CRUISE)
In contrast to previous film adaptions, and typically Tom Cruise, the Mummy is an action trip through the world and times. The adventurous journey goes back to the Egypt 4000 years ago. It leads us to the crusaders of the Middle Ages to bring us, finally, to the Iraq and London of our times.
Two great discoveries mark the beginning of the adventure. While underground workers stumble upon a burial chamber in London, Nick Morten (Tom Cruise) discovers a small village in the Iraq. Here, where terrorists destroy historical artefacts, he presumes a huge treasure.
THE GOOD & EVIL
Already in the first minutes, The Mummy plays with the question, who is good and who is the evil? Actually, Nick, a special forces officer, isn’t much better than the terrorists. He isn’t interested to protect cultural assets.
With his friend, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), he plunders historical sites in search of rare treasures, which he wants to sell to the highest bidder. So, the soldiers of fortune discover the grave of the old Egyptian princess Ahmanet by accident.
Ahmanet was a fearless princess, who had been promised the throne of Egypt. As heiress of the pharaoh, she was highly influential and powerful, but she was ambitious and diligent too. The first time in her life she felt fear when her father married a new wife, who gave birth to a son. Now, he was the first in line of succession and Ahmanet was rebuffed. Therefore, she made a pact with Seth, the god of dead and decay.
Again, The Mummy plays with ambiguities. Seth was a god of destruction, but he was also a guard of the oases as well as companion of the main god Horus. Ahmanet wasn’t evil too. But, she felt betrayed and deeply hurt. Thus, she seeks revenge.
It is this gamble with contrast, which makes the film interesting. “The Mummy” asks us the question, if there exist a true good and evil? What would we do? Could we cross borders, which are dangerous or not accepted by the society?
Isn’t it true that we think and act too often selfish? Although, Ahmanet is a dark princess, which sucks out life from others, she seems vulnerable and looking for love. She follows her destiny, but she wants to share it with a man. Actually, a very romantic attitude.
However, Ahmanet is performed by the beautiful Sofia Boutella. The gorgeous French-Algerian model, dancer and actress is a goddess in real life. And, she is a very hard worker, too. Sofia danced and performed in many music-videos.
She was seen in videos from Madonna, Rihanna, Usher, Chris Brown, Michael Jackson, to name just a few. Furthermore, she played in the blockbuster Star Trek Beyond. The smart and pretty woman has the sweet smile of an innocent girl. Additionally, she has a very warm personality and likable appearance.
Sofia mixes these positive characteristics with her role as dark princess. She shows, that something good and pure could be hidden also behind a shocking appearance. Thus, the audience will feel with Ahmanet. Often, they will be on her side.
Also, when she tries to get back her kingdom at any price. Therefore, instead of pure horror, The Mummy plays with emotions. Actually, nobody wants that someone hurts Ahmanet deeply a second time.
DR. HENRY JEKYLL (RUSSEL CROWE)
Especially, because of the fact, that her opponents are very strange characters too. Above all Dr. Henry Jekyll. The mysterious scientist leads the secret organization Prodigium. It was established to detect, study, curb and destroy the evil in our world. Actually, it seems that the British gentleman is stranded in our modern world. Furthermore, one gets the impression that Dr. Jekyll isn’t only protecting the world against the evil, but he wants to protect the evil from the world too.
Russel Crowe stars in the role of the mysterious doctor. The Oscar-winning actor shows once more his comprehensive acting skills. Perfectly, he creates the question in our mind, if he is good or bad.
Certainly, it is debatable whether a classic literary figure and story should be
mixed with other ones. Also in case of “The Mummy” experts will have problems with it. But, on the one hand, it is the logical step to emphasize the relation between the good and evil. On the other hand, the integration of a classical figure in modern movies could help to preserve valuable literary work for the next generations.
Of course not, because The Mummy would have that high cultural level. But, because of the play of Russel Crowe, which could arouse the interest of the youth, to learn more about this disrupted character. However, for that reason, it would be good to promote the real story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to the spectators, for example in the forthcoming DVD booklets.
JENNY HALSEY (ANNABELLE WALLIS)
Jenny Halsey is a beautiful scientist, who is working for Prodigium. She doesn’t know a lot about good and evil, but she wants to follow in the footsteps of her mother. She believed in the exist of an Egyptian princess whose historical traces were eliminated in the past.
When, Jenny meets Nick, she falls in love with him. But Nick uses her. He wants to steal her secret plans. When they meet again, she reproaches Nick his behavior, but, step by step, she learns that she isn’t perfect either. Because, she accepts to use others to reach her own goal. In contrast to the others, Jenny knows limits. However, she follows her heart and fate, but not at any price. She is the balanced approach between the other characters.
The British actress Annabelle Wallis performs the smart and very good-looking scientist. Wallis combines glamorous sex-appeal with classic elegance and the casual attitude of a primary school teacher. The beautiful talent becomes one of the most sought-after British actresses of our times.
She will also play a role in the 3rd season of the highly-popular TV series: „Peaky Blinders – Gangs of Birmingham“. Recently, we saw Annabelle in “King Arthur”, and, among Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong in the comedy “Grimsby”.
Besides the amazing cast as well as the imaginative story, Universal Pictures presents an authentic and realistic movie. Thanks to the general – and very good – trend, to waive CGI (computer animations) wherever it’s possible, “The Mummy” touches the senses. When we look back to the 2000-2010 decade, no action movie could arouse emotions. Because of too much computer techniques, the pictures were cold and sterile. Since some years, the big companies go back to the origins of film-making.
But “The Mummy” goes a step further. The crew used real film. This was a huge challenge and boon at the same time. The pros had to work much more accurately than ever before. The cast had to act on real sets, but not just in the studio in front of green screens.
So, the crew built the Iraqi village completely in the desert of Namibia. The actors were very impressed when they saw that a house was built up again per touch of a button in seconds, short time after it was comletely destroyed.
The biggest challenge was the scene in the airplane. The effects aren’t CGI, but true cinematic art. The team has built the freighter completely in the studio, based on a hydraulic foundation. That machine made it possible to rotate the airplane body steadily. Because of the rotation of the machine, the actors were exposed to true zero gravity in the airplane.
The team did everything to show the most realistic situation as possible. Furthermore, the new technique provided the simulation of of a start and dive. All inside details were made of rubber to protect the artists. The team worked 16 weeks to realize this sequence, which is an important turning point in the movie.
TOM CRUISE AND THE CAST ATTEND THE PREMIERES OF THE MUMMY
The Mummy is a trip through space and time. It presents an old story in new splendor. While previous versions dealt with horror or comedy, The Mummy tries to show the layers of our psychology and emotions. It isn’t possible to consider the one or other completely as good or evil.
However, what all movies have in common is the subject love. Love plays an important role. Is it possible that a cursed princess fight for love? Could we learn from an ancient zombie, who tries to rule the world? What could we learn? To believe in our fate, to fight for it, or to fight for love and power? When we look to many young people, without motivation and energy, “The Mummy”, or better Ahmanet could be a role model anyhow.
OUR RATING IN %MYSTIC 85%
Finally, “The Mummy” isn’t any new milestone in cinematic art, but a true entertaining film. It brings new aspects into an old story as well as more depth. There are some points of criticism regarding the story. Why it plays in the Iraq? How can a figure from the 19th century be active in London of our times? Furthermore, the end results due to the fact, that Universal certainly plans a sequel is. Nevertheless, “The Mummy” makes fun and presents some really good new actors on the screens.
We give the tip to watch this intoxicating film on a 4K or 8K TV screen. For it, the Blu-Ray version is the perfect media. But also the other version offer interesting bonus material as well as a very thrilling movie.
Text & Layout: Marco Kokkot
Pictures: © Universal Pictures