Date: 7:30 – 9:00 pm, 03-Mar-2017
Cost: Meetings are Free to members, Guests $5 – Students with ID $2
The Scorpion King as a Scorpion and JFK as a Mummy Hunter: Ancient Egypt and its Antiquities in Cinema
Egypt has long been the setting for theatrical interpretation and with the emergence of silent film at the beginning of the 20th century, the Nile Valley became a staple venue for exotic historical fiction. Much of our popular appreciation for Egypt is rooted in cinema; archaeologists have tended to evaluate films relating to archaeological context in reference to the accuracy of the ancient world that is depicted or the ways in which the discipline is portrayed. While audiences can and do question the historical accuracy of the stories that are presented, there are more subtle and more problematic interpretive issues that readily escape notice. These films offer typological arguments in which the normative constructs from the era of the viewer are reified by witnessing characters with recognizable values deal with the same kinds of issues that are struggled with outside of the cinema. Potentially subversive studies of the past are transformed into works that demonstrate the naturalness of neo-liberal politics. American Protestantism and democracy are given a teleological force that seems rooted in historical fact. These and other pre-critical readings of the past are given a seeming scientific accuracy for popular audiences through the veristic tropes used in this kind of film-making and the kinds of questioning that archaeology should encourage is undermined by these cinematic narrative techniques. This talk shall survey these and other issues in relation to a wide variety of cinematic genres, from silent film to recent flops.
About the speaker:
Room EDC 287 in the Education Block at the University of Calgary.