The Mummy (1999)
Greatness Of 'The Mummy' Within The Action Genre
By: Domonique Cox-Salberg
The Mummy begins with an introduction to the alluring ancient world of Thebes, Egypt—the city of the living and the crown jewel of Pharaoh Seti I. These scenes immerse us with an elaborate setting of Egyptian architecture, royal attire, and the Goldfinger paint job. Most notoriously on Anck-su-namun (Patricia Velasquez).
This setting shows the pharaoh Seti, his high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), and his mistress Anck-su-namun and what leads to their demise. And in that, the creation of the mummy. Millennia past. It is now the 1920s, where we meet a French foreign legionnaire named Rick (Brendan Fraser) and his cowardly friend Beni (Kevin J. O’Connor). Then, a librarian named Evelyn and her brother Jonathan on a naive quest to Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead.
Quick jump to the following sections:
So, jumping right into the film’s greatest qualities, the entire cast’s chemistry is favorable and balanced, especially its likable, strong leads Rick and Evelyn. The role of Evelyn is refreshing because she is a fully-realized female character. She is an academic and has her separate motivations and purpose for adventuring into Hamunaptra, and not merely an accessory for the male lead to have something to gawk. Evelyn supersedes her aesthetics. The audience instead gets an entertainingly clumsy, yet intelligent resolute woman guided by her ambitions and not only romantic interest.
Rick, on the other hand, is the handsome, fun, hero thespian modeled in the vein of an Indiana Jones type. However, Fraser still creates a memorable character worthy of appreciation. He acts in a way in which he knows comparison to Harrison Ford’s beloved character is likely, so why not have some fun with it. Almost as if winking at the audience. Still, he is the backbone of the film and what makes the movie enjoyable. Every scene Rick is in, there is some humor or glimpses of his charming smile found within every frame.
Cinematography & Costume Design
But on top of the great cast and the movie’s fun and charming atmosphere, The Mummy’s cinematography and setting are just as noteworthy. The story takes place in Egypt, yet The Mummy filmed in Marrakech, Morocco. The filming included photography shots taken for the movie in the Sahara Desert outside the small oasis town of Erfoud, and the United Kingdom. Thus, Adrian Biddle is the cinematographer who supplied The Mummy with its beautiful shots. His past cinematography work is in the films V for Vendetta (2005), Thelma & Louise (1991), and Aliens (1986).
Moreover, what is appealing about films shot in the desert, like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), is the clean and simplistic yet grand look to them. There are not many sets that take up space. Instead, it is usually the actor(s) and the vastness of desert land as their only companion. Seeing Rick and Evelyn embrace one another at the end with the wind blowing in their hair, and the backdrop of the desert is a magical setup. In like manner, the 1920’s setting and attire in The Mummy are pleasing as well. Rick is seen sporting a classic 1920’s adventurous outfit featured in many movies. He is a French legionary, so his key pieces are a white military shirt with little panels on the shoulders, khaki trousers, and brown boots.
Plus, an old-school western-style shoulder gun rig, bandana (for keeping mouth and nose clear during sandstorms), brown leather belt, and wristband too. Rick’s outfit shows us that he is ready for action and adventure at any time. Likewise, Evelyn is wearing the picture-perfect 1920s attire for women in multiple outfits throughout the movie, each reminiscent of the romantic years. She is often seen wearing long skirts, simple white tops paired with a silk chiffon scarf, summer hats, and oxford style middle-heel boots. The femininity of her outfits radiates sophistication and a simpler time adding to The Mummy’s charm.
However, what ties the characters, setting, and fight scenes together so well is the movie’s stirring score. Created by composer Jerry Goldsmith, the music in “The Mummy” makes the film come to life. Goldsmith is known for lending his musical talents to films such as the classic Chinatown (1974), Planet of the Apes (1968), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)—which brought him more popularity, and L.A. Confidential (1997). Hence, the music is ostentatious and provoking like most action/adventure movies, but what makes it stand out is how it mixes these foundations with the influence of Ancient Egypt and haunting features.
The middle eastern style of music is woven expertly into heroically portrayed horns and pounding drums and strings, making for an exciting adventure with Rick, Evelyn, and Jonathan. While never being hampered by a lot of added effects. From start to finish, the music does not feel out of place or distracting. It moves from intensity, romanticism, and dread seamlessly. Instead of turning into obnoxious filler music that can plague some action flicks, the score remains to be vigorous, comprehensive, and purposeful. Each song captures the film’s tropes brilliantly and never loses its momentum or ever feels out of place. So, with its fantastic cast, non-stop humor and charm, brilliant score, and engaging cinematography, The Mummy has become a true action-adventure classic.
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Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell
Rachel Weisz as Evelyn
John Hannah as Jonathan
Kevin J. O’Connor as Beni
Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep
Jonathan Hyde as Egyptologist
Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bay
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Rated PG-13 For Pervasive Adventure Violence and Some Partial Nudity
Cinematography: Adrian Biddle
Editing: Bob Ducsay
Soundtrack: Jerry Goldsmith
Distribution: Universal Pictures