Friday, 4 January 2013

The Mummy (1932)

This is the first telling of the love story between the ancient Egyptian Prince Imhotep (buried alive 3000 years ago) and the woman he loves, Princess Anck-es-en-Amon; a love story that spans thousands of years as well as death itself. I'm guessing that most people are likely to be more familiar with Stephen Sommers' 1999 version, so the best way of describing this film is as an abridged version, and with a run time of only 70 minutes it really crams a lot in.

There is quite a minimal cast who are all much of a muchness, that is of course excepting the enigmatic Boris Karloff. As the Mummy, his performance is very understated but perfectly pitched; he opens doors with such a sleight of hand that it appears that they just open before him. His movements are all slow and deliberate as his presence dominates all his scenes. The main thing that bugged me, however, was that having been revived, Imhotep then waits ten years before trying to revive Anck-es-en-Amon. This could be because he was waiting for another British expedition so he can direct them to dig where Anck-es-en-Amon is buried, but this isn't satisfactorily explained. In the mean time, Imhotep has found himself gainful employment in the museum in Cairo and obviously been integrated into society for all this time!

Karl Freund’s direction is very careful and deliberate and makes great use of light, particularly on Boris Karloff, however the film is very dated. Some of the dialogue is very clunky and the ending in particular is very unsatisfactory. Having said that, the film is still enjoyable and worth checking out for Karloff’s performance.