Sort of a process doc, focused on hands and objects (no faces are seen until the last ten minutes), partly documenting its own making (you hear claps for sound sync, direction to move action into camera view). I usually can’t figure out what they’re doing but I got when they traced the faint remaining pigment lines from ancient pottery and recreated the original design. Anyway the end titles (in reverse order) tell us exactly what we’ve been looking at.
Darren Hughes in Cinema Scope:
The film seems designed to ensnare viewers in the unspoken fetishistic pleasures of collecting, archiving, and displaying — the same pleasures that drive the economies of poaching and museum-building … Rinland has consistently used a number of formal techniques that have, in recent years, become associated with ASMR. [This film] is a comprehensive catalogue of triggers.
“How could you do that?”
“Had to! Science, you know!”
Historians/Archaeologists being uncareful with their findings, discover the mummy of Imhotep who was buried alive. These guys have fragile British minds, and one goes instantly mad when he sees the mummy walk away from the dig site. Unlike the Hammer version, the mummy doesn’t return as a silent grey-ragged monster but as a well-spoken Boris Karloff, who helps the remaining dudes and one of their sons figure out where to dig next. Karloff hypnotizes a hottie named Helen to make her into his immortal queen, but the other guys needlessly interfere after realizing Karloff is their lost mummy by watching flashbacks in a magical TV-pool.
Imhotep’s funeral procession as seen in the Flashback Pool:
The hottie was Zita Johann of Howard Hawks’s Tiger Shark. Her movie career was as short as Freund’s directing career – he had shot Dracula and Metropolis, and after stepping up for this movie he made Mad Love and a few others before returning to his cinematographer role. David Manners, our young hero nobody cares about, also played the hero nobody cares about in Dracula, and his dad was Arthur Byron, sadly unrelated to Mary Shelley’s buddy Lord Byron.
L-R: Byron, Johann, Karloff, Manners
At the time I saw this, both movies playing the Ross were oscar-nominated period pieces starring Michael Stuhlbarg. I liked him as the Russian spy, but as an archaeology professor distracted by his work, he didn’t have as much to do here… until the end, when he gives a hell of a monologue and we realize he wasn’t as distracted as he seemed. I wouldn’t have gone to see the lazy sunny movie where the bored vacationing rich kid falls for an older boy but it kept topping critic lists and I loved Guadagnino’s last fast-cutting high-energy vacation movie, so was wondering how he’d play it this time. While nothing much was happening on the seduction front, teen idol Timothée Chalamet dating and dodging local girls, I nerded out over the editing style, still with the attentive cutting but making room for some lovely long takes. Meanwhile, Chalamet finally gets his older boy (Armie Hammer) and runs off with him for a couple days, then returns home a mess… Stuhlbarg monologue, a long stare into the fireplace, and the beauty of the damned thing snuck up on me.