Last night I wandered along to the Petrie Museum for a rather interesting idea. The museum was hosting a small film event and was going to show a viewing of the Hammer Horror classic, The Mummy – which was rather apt for a museum dedicated to Egypt.
The viewing was not in a large cinema or auditorium (as they do at the next-door Grant Museum), but was set up inside the museum itself. So, after arriving and wandering round the place for a short while with glass of wine in hand, we settled down on a small collection of chairs and listened to the resident Egyptologist give a short intro to the film.
The film is based in part on the early mummy horror movies, but was the first to be in colour, and also took the topic seriously – as recent mummy movies had tended to be comedies.
The film director was not that familiar with Egypt – so the studio hired a so-called expert to assist. It seems they may have been sold a pup, as no one seems to have heard of the advisor and he made some absolute howlers in the movie. The worst, which he apparently assured the studio no one would notice (and everyone did) was to decide there was a God called Karnak, when in fact Karnak is a famous temple complex.
Anyhow, intro over – lights off and film started.
The museum was going for atmosphere rather than technical excellence, so we basically had a DVD projected onto a small screen – but sitting in the dark, surrounded by a huge collection of Egyptian relics while watching an Egyptian horror movie was rather fun.
In a way, it also reminded me of the first time I saw Star Wars when I lived in the Middle-East as that was just a room in the Abu Dhabi Hilton with a projector and a small screen.
Anyhow, it was quite a fun way to watch a movie, and apart from being squashed in between the antiques, the small number of people they could fit in made it feel more intimate as an experience.
The museum hopes to run a series of horror and Egypt themed movies next year – which I will list on the events calendar as soon as I have the details. We were also asked to suggest a few ideas for trashy movies to play, and a discussion prior to the viewing had lined up some ideas – and I suggested Land of the Pharaohs, which was one of those old-fashioned Hollywood epics with (of all people), Joan Collins in the lead role. A movie loosely based on Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars – Legend of the Mummy and the Disney classic, One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing were warmly appreciated. As you can maybe tell, they are not aiming for serious films or blockbusters ;)
Incidentally, the Museum is a rather lovely, if curious place being buried inside University College London, and is basically a vast display of antiquities – most of it collected by the founder of modern Egyptology, Flinders Petrie. However, unlike most museums, there are few explanatory signs and this is basically a huge "warehouse" of Egyptian antiques. I quite like it.
Note – slight artistic license with the posting title as this museum doesn’t actually have any Mummies (well, just a bit of one) – they are all over at the British Museum now.