"Tutankhamun" DVD Review
July 30, 2007 by Zach Demeter
Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is probably one of the best documentaries on King Tutankhamun Iíve seen. Ever since I was young, Iíve been interested in archeology (no doubt spurred by the exploits of a certain Indiana Jones) and for a few years I was even subscribing to Archeology magazine and eagerly watching anything having to do with Egypt on National Geographic or the Discovery channel. Whether it was on the gradual onslaught of PCs in my household that led me towards that field rather than archeology Iím not sure, but thereís no way I can deny that there isnít still a strong interest in archeology.
With Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs weíre not only given a thorough history of what we know about Tutankhamun, but the documentary also goes into detail about King Tutís family and possible offspring. Throughout the hour long documentary weíre given glimpses into all of the artifacts found in Tutís tomb, as well as a few others of his family, and if you were unable to go the exhibition, it gives you a small sense of the grandeur that the artifacts give off.
The documentary is fascinating to watch and comes with a ton of commentary by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt and others who have spent a good portion of their life studying Tutankhamun. While Iíd heard most of what was told in the film, the aspects of his family life were all new to me and simply getting to see the artifacts in close up detail made the whole documentary worth watching.
Overall Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is a great hour of history to watch and to anyone who wants to own the definitive story of Tutankhamun in documentary form, this documentary comes Recommended.
While I had figured that this DVD wouldnít offer much in extras, Iím happy to say Iíve been proven wrong. Not only does the disc arrive in a clear amaray DVD case, itís got a gorgeous full gold display from one of the artifacts and the disc art is all matte black with two gold symbols printed on. Menu is static and contains music.
The video of the documentary and all of the special features is a bit questionable in terms of DVD quality. There is a ton of grain, compression and interlacing at times, making for a rather slipshod looking transfer. Perhaps itís the original elements they had to work with, but at times the video can get really fuzzy looking. Still, Iím sure itís sharper than the original broadcast. Audio is clean and clear, although the narrator, Omar Sharif, is sometimes hard to hear as his voice can lower to a whisper when he talks about the artifacts and history of Tutankhamun.
The extras are a real treat to watch. Not only is there a video montage of the artifacts in the exhibit (over 100), some of which are seen in the documentary and some which are not, we get a behind the scenes of the exhibition and documentary, which goes into great detail about how difficult it was to get all the stars to align to get everything to work together. We hear from people involved in the exhibit as well as the documentary production and even contain footage of celebrities talking about the exhibit (Virginia Madsen even pauses to recount her original viewing of this exhibit in 1976 as a child).
One of the more talked about aspects of Tutankhamun is the ďcurseĒ that his tombs discovery apparently put on Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter and if you were wondering why it was left off the main documentary, itís likely because many donít consider there to be any truth to it. Still, itís a major part of the legend of Tutankhamun and itís included In the small ďDiscovery of Tutankhamunís tomb in 1922Ē featurette.
Overall we have the main feature plus an hour of bonus features and while the video quality is questionable on the DVD itself, it comes Recommended. While it may not have a ton of replay value, the legend of Tutankhamun is surely something youíll want to share with young kids and this documentary is detailed and filled with footage of all the breathtaking artifacts that were buried with King Tutankhamun.
Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is now available on DVD.