Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

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  • The Loves of Pharaoh (1922) - Plot Summary - Newly restored German silent epic, directed by Ernst Lubitsch. In which Amenes (Emil Jannings), the powerful, oddly bearded (sticks straight out) Pharaoh of Egypt, is more worried about getting his "Treasury" built than the safety of the workers who build it. When the massive tomb like structure is complete, Amenes vows no one may venture near his Treasury on fear of death. Meanwhile, the King of Ethiopia makes an offering of his daughter as a wife for Amenes so their nations can be allies/comrades - and Theonis, a beautiful Greek slave girl owned by the Ethiopian King, ends up getting stolen by handsome Ramphis, a worker on the Treasury building, who on meeting her is so struck by her beauty that he immediately carries her away. The two end up frolicking at the forbidden Treasury grounds, are captured, and sentenced to death by Pharaoh. Theonis arrives at the feet of Amenes to beg that her lover Ramphis's life be spared and Amenes is immediately lovestruck when he looks at the pleading slave girl's face. He offers marriage in exchange for the life of Ramphis, but she won't do it - that is until her love is seconds away from a crushing death via this gigantic stone brick that is being lowered onto him by a ring of slaves. She agrees to be with the Pharaoh, and Ramphis is spared but sentenced to a life of hard labor in the stone quarries. When the Ethiopian King and daughter arrive with a consort bringing gifts, he finds that his slave girl is now in the hands of Amenes, who prefers to marry her rather than the Ethiopian princess. No pact can be made now between the two countries and war is on! Ramphis and his fellow slaves manage to fight off their guards and escape from the quarries, and when Theonis hears of this the Pharaoh locks her in a secret room inside his Treasury to keep her away from her lover. Lots and lots of plot turns, battles, and high intrigue to follow!

    Review - This film is visually interesting, with massive crowd scenes roaring over dusty desert hills, the masses assembling at the court steps before the Pharaoh and new Queen of Egypt, and shots photographed high above running armies of people and the stone quarry as the enslaved men make their escape. This film is what I would call "high melodrama", and the acting is often a bit over the top (which gathered some inappropriate laughter from the live audience at the screening of this). The plot is actually pretty outlandish, but that's all part of the fun - I love epics like this. The music that accompanies this film is absolutely terrific and a great enhancement to the feeling and impact of the film as a whole. The music was performed live at the screening of this I saw at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, by Robert Israel conducting a 16-piece orchestra - a wow!! Featuring a large amount of extras to fill up those crowd scenes, well done, interesting costumes, art direction and imagery (though i wasn't completely convinced by some of the rather fake looking knives the characters were wielding), entertaining story, and a magnificent score to accompany all this -- I found the film quite enjoyable. Rating - * 8.5/10 stars *

    Director: Ernst Lubitsch
    Film Genre: Historic Epic / Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 100 minutes
    German Original Title: Der letzte Mann

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10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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