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4 Times Egypt Was Featured in Iconic Hollywood Films

August 22, 2023
Still from the Mummy (1999)

Hollywood has long found inspiration in the captivating world of ancient Egypt, using the country as a backdrop or a central element in the plots of several films. From epic adventures to spellbinding mysteries, the dunes of Egypt’s deserts and its mystifying past have been intricately woven into the storylines of some of American cinema’s most popular films.

While some films were set in Egypt, the filming itself didn’t necessarily always take place in Egypt. Instead, the filmmakers used a mix of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and dedicated sets to bring ancient Egypt – or at times, modern Egypt – to life.

Here are 4 iconic films that have featured Egypt in their storyline.

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy, starring Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz, is a remake of an earlier film carrying the same title, which was released in 1932. The plot centres around two adventurous explorers who accidentally unleash the curse of an ancient priest in the city of the dead in Egypt: Hamunaptra.

The filmmakers used a combination of (CGI, built sets, and location shoots to recreate Egypt as the backdrop of the film. Most of the location shoots depicting Cairo were filmed in Marrakech, Morocco.
Meanwhile, the port of Giza, featured in one scene, was shot in Chatham, England.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Set against the backdrop of 1930s Europe and several other locales, Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark stars Harrison Ford as the titular character, going on an adventure to find the Ark of the Covenant. The archeologist is on a deadline as he needs to find the ark before the Nazis do. As is customary for Indiana, he goes through a journey of deciphering cryptic clues, surviving treacherous traps, and facing machiavellian adversaries.

The film’s plot line, however, does not strictly revolve around Egypt, as the
adventurer travels to a number of countries along his quest to find the ark. The scenes set in Egypt were shot in Tunisia.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

The third instalment of the Night at the Museum film series sees the director of night time operations at the Museum of Natural History in New York, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), go on a journey to save the museum’s exhibits. The adventure begins with the Tablet of Ahkmenrah, which was found during an archeological excavation in 1938.

While the film is not set in Egypt, central to its plotline is a story inspired by ancient Egyptian civilization, with pharaoh Ahkmenrah and his parents featuring as important characters to the narrative.

Death on the Nile (2022)

Based on Agatha Christie’s 1937 novel of the same title, the film Death on the Nile is set along the banks of the Egyptian Nile. The film follows detective Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Braganagh, as he investigates the death of an heiress.

The 2022 iteration is an adaptation of the original film released in 1978.

Much of the film was shot in the United Kingdom with the production team building sets and using special effects to represent Egypt.

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