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EGYPT: ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: The Pyramids Of Course!
Director: Christopher Cassel
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen Format
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Studio: A&E
Extra Features: See Review
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: December 19, 2006

Question: What did the baby pyramid say to the other pyramid?

Answer: How's your mummy?

Film ****

What comes to mind when you think of Ancient Egypt?  Powerful Pharaohs, the unparalleled beauty of the Nile, or maybe the great Pyramids of Giza?  Well yes, all of those things come readily to mind when you think about Egypt and its history. 

However, one thing that I never gave much thought to until watching this DVD was the engineering prowess these people possessed, and the sheer determination of each ruler to leave his or her mark on the landscape, whether it be through building, religion, or military might! 

The men behind the design and building of the Pyramids that dot Egypt’s plains were great thinkers with bold ideas and the manpower to back up those ideals.  These men were well ahead of their time where design and function were concerned.  So you could say that they were some of the first people to think outside the box, and inside the pyramid!

Workers were plentiful, and materials available, yet this did not prevent Pharaohs from making some of the same mistakes that modern architects and builders face even today.  You can pick your plot of land, and build your dream home.  However, when mother nature decides to resettle her apron, you will find your house shifted over a few inches, and nothing will ever level out again.

The ever shifting sands of the desert coupled with shifting tectonic plates proved a building hazard for at least one of Egypt’s Kings, and would lead him toward the ultimate endeavor, build the perfect pyramid or bust.  His coffers went bust, but in the end he achieved his goal and the first truly perfect (flat on all sides and shining brightly) pyramid was born! 

When it came time for Amenhotep IV to rule, he decided that full scale change was needed, on every level.  He would not be taking orders from Egyptian Clerics or Priests who, up and until then, held a great deal of power and sway.

He rebuilt the Egyptian religion around the sun god Ahten, and changed his name to Akhenaten, which means the servant of Ahten.  What is now Modern day Luxor was Thebe's the capital city of Egypt back in 1352 BC.  However, Akhenaten wanted a clean slate. 

So on order of the Pharaoh the Egyptians loaded up the cart and they moved to Beverly...Hills that is, swim.....no wait that's not right, they moved their entire civilization to what would later be named Akhetaten.

Needless to say this kind of massive upheaval did not happen very often, but when it did, it left a lasting mark on the people, as well as the landscape. 

This DVD is unique in that you not only see the Pyramids, and what went into building them,  you see the entire legacy behind them.  You meet the builders, the architects, and everyone who played a part from the Pharaoh all the way down to the boys wetting the ramps for the stone haulers. 

This film was narrated by Michael Carroll.  His voice lends perfectly to this type of historical endeavor.  Add to that the narration and the on screen presence of Mr. Robocop himself, Peter Weller and you have one fine DVD to add to your collection!

Video ***

This DVD is presented in a 1.85:1 Widescreen format for your viewing pleasure.  Colors were vivid and crisp, seeming to pop off the screen.  Scenes of the Blue Nile are a perfect example of how beautiful this DVD's visual presentations are.

Audio ***

This DVD's audio was very nicely done.  The Dolby Digital Stereo mix was pleasant and levels remained constant throughout. One of the things I like about A&E is its attention to detail when it comes to audio. 

Features ***

This DVD's vault contains almost more information in the extra features than the main feature itself...check it out.

The first of three featurettes gives you an Inside Look At Egypt With Peter Weller. Follow Peter as he explores the pyramids in ways you have only imagined. 

From The Director's Chair allows you to take a look at this DVD through the eyes of the director.  Once you get through this extra, you will know more about making a film on Ancient Egyptian culture than some of the directors in Hollywood!

Everything You Want To Know About Egypt is just that, a featurette about everything you want to know about Egypt.  

Interactive Menus, and Scene Selection bring these wonderful extra features to a close.

Summary:

A breathtaking view of one of the seven wonders of the world right in your very own living room...what could be better?   Okay, yes a Time Machine, but you have to visit the realm of H. G. Wells for that stuff! 

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