". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, July 11, 2016

Take A Little Trip! Ride Ra's Solar Barge: Gods of Egypt (2016)

Gods of Egypt almost went straight to video. Probably it was saved from that fate and actually had a global theatrical release back in February because, shot in Australia, their tax liability was zero, and all costs were reduced by 40 - 50 %.  So though it was a box office bomb and disappeared immediately, it actually took in sales of a single million over the production cost.

Even before the film was finished critics from around the world lambasted the producers for casting such a white bunch of actors for something set in ancient Egypt. The reviewers unanimously found the film risible, which is understandable, but -- maybe they missed the parody?

This flick is visually so over the top that it's gloriously entertaining.

Khepri, the scarab / dung beetle, is associated with Ra; as Khepri faithfully rolls his ball of dung across the earth as Ra's barge ferries the solar disc daily across the heavens. Thus Khepri is God of rebirth, the sunrise and scarab. Ra's aspect in the morning. I couldn't find an image of the scarab from the film.  Damn.  It was so cool.

We even get to see chariots pulled by giant scarabs.

Ra on his Solar Barge, engaging in his daily battle against Apep or Apophis, the monster of chaos.  I have not been able to find an image of the film's Solar Barge, and am very sorry.  It is magnificent.
The greatest achievement of all is Ra and his Solar Barge. In fact, the Solar Barge and Ra are astounding. It's quite imaginative in exactly the way in the first half of the 20th century children's picture books of the gods might well have portrayed it and Ra,

Thoth, god of wisdom, writing, memory, libraries, has such a huge brain that while recording the world's knowledge in his library there are countless Thoths. Multi-processors -- Egypt, totally up-to-date when the rest of the world lived in caves!

It takes a while to understand what this action adventure flick is: it is (almost) a parody of the action adventure superhero comix flix, employing humanity's first superheroes, the gods and goddesses of Egypt. The story line follows fairly thoroughly, though updated, and reduced to graphic novel dimension, while referencing contemporary superheroes such as Iron Man --  the Egyptian Book of the Dead journey, and Egyptian founding gods’ mythology.

I.e. the simplistic formula of Joseph Campbell's hero’s journey, which is the plot of Gods of Egypt -- Horus must mature and learn what being hero means.

See! Scarabs! In the background!  I did not make them up!

However, one does suspect this happens out of desperation rather than having any idea of what anybody involved was doing or thought they were doing. It's hilarious to see the god Horus become Iron Man, except Horus, being an Egyptian god, he's the element of gold, of course. The Egyptian gods don't have blood, which is what distinguishes them from humans. They have gold in their veins instead.

I thoroughly enjoyed this silly thing. Though I’d never have spent the 18 bux at a cinema to see it, it was just fine to pass the time streaming from netflix.

One does wonder what the cast thought . . . a couple interesting figures in it -- Coster-Waldau and Rufus Sewell.  One can see that if the studio seriously expected this thing could become a franchise they had to be disappointed.  But how could they have thought any such thing?  Making it a parody of superhero comix must have been something pulled together in the editing studio in hopes of at least not embarrassing the project too badly.

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