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Patrick Schoenmaker

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The Mummy

Released by Universal - 1999

Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Story by: Stephen Sommers, Lloyd Fonvielle & Kevin Jarre
Screenplay by: Stephen Sommers
Produced by: Patricia Carr, Sean Daniel,
James Jacks, Kevin Jarre & Megan Moran

Brendan Fraser .... Richard 'Rick' O'Connell
Rachel Weisz .... Evelyn 'Evie' Carnahan
John Hannah .... Jonathan Carnahan
Arnold Vosloo .... Lord Imhotep
Oded Fehr .... Ardeth Bay


In the post-Indiana Jones era, the 1990s, the movie screens were ultimately devoid of true Indiana Jones-inspired fare until the final year of the decade, when Universal Pictures graced the silver screen with its now-blockbuster The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser as the intrepid fortune hunter, Rick O'Connell. For the few of you out there who have not seen the film, the story is as follows.

Discovering the Book
of the Dead.

During the reign of Pharaoh Seti I, his most trusted alchemist and high priest, Imhotep, is caught with Seti's mistress, Anck-su-namun. The mistress murders Seti and is executed by the royal guards. Imhotep, in his attempts to revive her with dark magic, is also caught and buried alive at Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead, with an ancient curse cast upon his soul. Time passes…

In 1923, Rick O'Connell is an American solider for hire in the French Foreign Legion. During a heated battle with enemy Arabs, Rick and his men find themselves with their backs to the ruined city of Hamunaptra. There, Rick discovers a small artifact, and ancient box.

Three years later in Cairo, a goofy, brainy librarian named Evelyn with an affinity for Egyptian lore and archaeology finds her brother Jonathan with the box in his possession. Inside it, they find an ancient map to the city of Hamunaptra, thought to have been a city of myth. Evelyn, determined to find the original owner, discovers Rick in a local prison and saves him from execution. In return, Rick agrees to show them the way to Hamunaptra, where it is believed Seti I hid all of the great wealth of Egypt. Evelyn also wants to find the rumored Book of the Dead, which may contain ancient magical knowledge.

Vosloo as The Mummy!

Along with a group of serious American competitors, Rick, Evelyn, and Jonathan race to the city in search of fortune and glory. Instead, they accidentally awaken the dead corpse of Imhotep when Evelyn finds the Book of the Dead and reads the incantations inside. The mummy, unleashed, begins killing off the American fortune hunters one by one in an attempt to regain his powers so he can resurrect Anck-su-namun and dominate the Earth. It is up to Rick and Evelyn to stop him.

The film was a huge success, due to the fact that, for the first time in a long time, the film had a sense of story and characters that were a little more developed than usual. Combine that with great sets, effects, and atmosphere and The Mummy was guaranteed to be a winner.

Fraser as Rick O'Connell.

However, while many said that the film was inspired by the Indiana Jones series, people tend to forget that this film was very much inspired directly by its 1930s counterpart, The Mummy. Rick O'Connell is not an archaeologist and the plot does not center on any one rare artifact. Initially, some fortune hunting is involved, but the real crux of the story is the threat of Imhotep's powers. Unlike Indiana Jones films, this story centers on an ancient evil that returns in a magical and tangible form as Imhotep's living corpse and the corpses of numbers of undead warriors.

This film is filled with amazing magical situations that Indiana Jones would never be seen running through. Rick fights off scores of mummy warriors with a sword and guns, Imhotep causes all sorts of magical plagues upon Cairo, and wayward archaeologists manage to cast spells out of ancient Egyptian tomes. There is no central object of the quest either. There is no Lost Ark or Holy Grail for the characters.

Our heroes sneaking.

Probably the biggest influence Indiana Jones had on this film, besides Rick O'Connell's shirt, is the set design and atmosphere of the past. Also, the more grounded action sequences (meaning those in which humans fight humans) are in the spirit of Indiana Jones, if not as straight forward and primal as Indy's scenes. In other words, whereas Indy's fistfights and gun battles were gritty and dirty, Rick O'Connell's fights with Magi warriors and others are filmed with a flare, a slick bravado in which his clothes may get dirty, but his hair is never mussed and his lip never bleeds.

Regardless of all this, some of the Indiana Jones spirit is there, in the dark ruins which the characters traverse by torchlight, the swarms of scarabs so reminiscent of the bugs from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the general excitement of the film. Unfortunately, do not expect any wild stunts (such as sliding under trucks). In this digital age, these aspects of the film are handled "virtually". Sad, yes, but true. However, the film does entertain on its own terms and is available on DVD for those who crave an adventure in the spirit of Indy, if not in the style of Dr. Jones. (MF)


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