The Curse of King Tutankhamen's Tomb DVD review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
An ancient Egyptian curse should have made for sensational British TV, but this 1980 production largely falls flat...
When it comes to the story of the eight-year-old boy king, the classic tale never gets old, no matter how many versions are made. The Curse of King Tutankhamen's Tomb whisks you off to November 1922, where 48-year-old struggling archaeologist Howard Carter (Robin Ellis), who has already spent six years at an Egyptian dig in the Valley of Kings, is desperate to find something. Fortune, it seems at the beginning, blesses him when he discovers the tomb of Tutankhamen, one of Egypt’s youngest pharaohs. However, the rumours of an ancient curse, foreshadowing grief and disaster, threaten to mar his triumph...
The storyline is obviously good and, once you read the plot synopsis, lures you into watching it. However, if you’re really into Ancient Egyptians, then you might be in for a disappointed evening after watching this DVD.
The opening doesn’t live up to the précis, and fails to hook you in immediately. It starts quietly – no sound, no voice, and no background soundtrack – with nothing at all at the dig showing Carter up to his elbows in trying to get somewhere – a miscalculated attempt to disarm the viewer, perhaps. The ending is slightly better than the opening – rather than a climax, it acts as an epilogue and summarises the fates of the characters and what happens in the rest of their lives. This idea is good and would actually have been satisfying if justice had been done to the concept, instead of re-using previous scenes.
With a budget of over £2m, a small army of over seventy actors and technicians travelled all the way to the Valley of the Kings to shoot the film. The authentic location plays its role well in making the production visually appealing but perhaps isn’t enough to suspend disbelief. At certain times during the production, it feels as if it has been deliberately stretched on and on to fulfil the 84 minutes of runtime. There are quite a few unnecessary and protracted scenes which cause optical glaze and remove the viewer from the reality of the set-up. At least these serve as a counterpoint to the better scenes, especially Lord Carnarvon’s final scene.
Nearly half of the film does not live up to its title and scarcely emphasises events after the sensational discovery, when the effects of the 'curse' actually come into play. Perhaps with more emphasis and focus on the curse and its effects on Carter and the rest of the characters, the production might have been more of a favourite with viewers at the time.
Despite the lacking score and use of unnecessary scenes, the cast have made some kind of an effort to make the characters realistic and bring English society of 1922 back to life. The costume design is exceptional, adding to the cast’s hard work and enlivening the production. But unable, sadly, to rescue it.
The Curse of King Tutankhamen's Tomb is released on the 7th of February
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