You Died Again on Screen
The ancient Egyptian mummies have been extensively portrayed throughout history, since the early inceptions of photography and cinema, and remain popular in visual culture. Certain ways of portraying them have been repeatedly followed like traditions, which resulted in establishing stereotypes. In my MA thesis at Leiden University, I investigated how some of these recurring portrayals dehumanise the ancient Egyptians. I have compiled an archive of photographs and films, analysed their portrayal patterns, and identified two traditions; the portrayal of mummies in non-fictional photographs as artefacts (artefication), and their portrayal in fictional films as monsters (monstrification).
In this filmic essay You Died Again on Screen, I offer a critique on the encounter with their monstrified filmic portrayals in nine globally distributed “The Mummy” films dating from 1932 to 2017. By addressing them directly through my voice-over narration, I attempt instead to portray them humanely, as seated spectators looking at their own fictional filmic portrayals. In doing so, I hope to lessen the distance between them and us as viewers, enticing in turn a critical reflection on the dehumanising nature of their spectacularised dehumanised bodies.
Read MA Thesis: “They Were Also Humans: On the Dehumanising Nature of Photographic and Filmic Portrayals of Egyptian Mummies”