Egypt Mania Review
This opens by announcing itself a deAgostini Production, which had me wondering if, by not keeping up with the seven-hundred-and-twenty-one monthly issues that followed this one, that I might be missing all the parts that I need to build my very own 12" high model of the mask of Tutankhamun. Fortunately (or not), this is a very rare standalone release from deAgostini and rather than collecting countless cover-mounted DVDs on the museums of the world, this release looks at just the one, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, better known as the Egyptian Museum.
Jean-François Champollion, the French scholar who translated hieroglyphs using the Rosetta Stone, was the first to recommend that Egypt build a museum to house the treasures that were then being exported en masse to Europe. Champollion died in 1832 but it wasn't until 1835 that the Egyptian government built a museum to house all of its treasures. After a series of disasters and, more simply, running out of room, the artifacts were moved out of a museum in Giza to their current location in 1902, when the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities was opened to the public. One assumes there was a good deal of fanfare at the time but this arrives on DVD with much less fuss and bother courtesy of Delta.
There isn't very much to say about Egypt Mania - this title doesn't actually appear on the main feature, which bills itself The Museum Of Egypt - other than it is a rather dry documentary on the treasures of the museum. It skips over any history of the museum, figuring that there's more than enough history in the items on display. At first, most of what it does show is at least interesting, including hieroglyphs and drawings showing the foundation of the Egyptian empire. For a time, there are sketches of what the pyramids and Sphinx would have looked like had they been preserved in their original state but the film hits a bit of a stride in its dealing with the remains of the Pharaohs, beginning with the most famous of them all, Tutankhamun.
Unlike most of the other royal tombs, that of Tutankhamun was found mostly intact by Howard Carter and his sponsor, Lord Canarvon. The Egyptian Museum houses a good many of the treasures found within, including vases and flasks, jewellery, chests and, of course, the famous mask made of solid gold. All of these are presented in this film, as are what treasures remain from the tombs of the other Pharaohs. Perhaps it explains an interest in the gruesome but Egypt Mania gets much better when presenting the mummified remains of, amongst others, Pharaohs Ramses II and III. So well preserved are these bodies that it's possible to see what they died of, understand how, with the building of new bone tissue, they lived on after sustaining some fatal-looking wounds and to look at the shadows of internal organs within alabaster jars. All very fascinating but only fifteen minutes or so out of the eighty of Egypt Mania.
It's very far from being the same as actually going to the museum and, to be fair, it's not really much of a feature. Had it been given away free as part of a series of history DVDs, it would be worth a watch but it's a different matter to actually pay for this. Even if it is a covermount in the first of a long-running History Of The World magazine series costing only £1.99...normal price £7.99.
Egypt Mania is presented in 1.33:1 and looks exactly as one would expect a direct-to-DVD. The picture doesn't look awfully exciting, clearly choosing a moment when the museum is empty of visitors to begin filming. While the feature does credit a director, Gianriccardo, he might, for all his input, simply have walked about the museum pointing the camera at the treasures within its cabinets. He does nothing else. The DVD offers a fair amount of detail and the narration by Charles Webster is always clear but it does little out of the ordinary. There are so subtitles.
There are no extras on this DVD.