Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Mummy

Special effects make films more interesting and worth watching. The movie The Mummy, which was released in 1999, is a remake of an old movie with a similar name, but has a lot more visual and mechanical effects that make it stand out more than the old one. According to Louis Giannetti in Understanding Movies, special effects can create a “totally different atmosphere” that makes the movie more enjoyable (33). The digital technology and make-up used in this movie also incorporate ethos, pathos, and logos to try to appeal to the audience.
An interesting use of special effects that stands out in The Mummy film involves a high priest who is mummified alive for being in love with the Pharaoh’s mistress. The high priest and the mistress both end up killing the Pharaoh after he finds this out. The mistress also kills herself when the Pharaoh’s guards come in and she tells the high priest to resurrect her later. He is unable to do that because he gets caught. His organs are removed and he is buried alive with flesh eating beetles. His sarcophagus is found years later and he is resurrected. His mission is then to try to resurrect the mistress and as he is trying to accomplish that, he wreaks havoc on the earth.
Since the high priest has no organs, he goes around killing people so he can take their organs for himself. He tries to restore himself so that he can be reunited with his love. The progression of how the high priest changes throughout the movie is interesting. When he is resurrected, his remains are shown as a computer generated skeleton. Through computer technology and make-up, more layers are added to his figure to make him seem human again. He obtains different organs from different people. First, a tongue and eyes are added to the skeleton. Then he gains muscles. The skin develops more slowly, where the layers underneath like the bone and muscles can be seen in different patches. His jaw is the last part to be incorporated in his body, restoring his human form. It is interesting to see this transformation and how the actor is able to fit into the character with these special effects and the use of make-up as he finally becomes human like he was before mummification.
This special effect helps give credibility to the actor because he is able to act well with the computer generated body parts in the process of  becoming human again. The progression to the human form is graphic and intense, which fits his character because he looks scary in person as well. His facial expressions also play an important part in contributing to his character too, which all adds to his ethos.
The special effect added to pathos as well because without the use of digital technology, the scenes in the movie would not have been as dramatic as they were. Since the high priest is evil and the progression of his transformation generates scary images, the actor has to also look the part in order for his character to be consistent with the theme of the movie. The actor does fit the role because he does a good job of looking tough and mean in the fully restored human form. According to Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters in Everything’s an Argument, “strong emotions” add “energy” (46) to the movie and it makes his role more effective. His outfit, which is a black cloak, also adds to his character because the color black here symbolizes darkness. The use of this black color  is “strongly emotional in its appeal” (22). He is bald as well and this makes his facial expression stand out more, which are intimidating. So digital technology makes the movie more intense and the audience is able to enjoy it more.
In the context of this movie and the ancient Egyptian belief in resurrection, the use of special effects makes the role of this character believable since he is shown as being immortal in the movie. This adds to the logos of the film and it fits in with the theme of the movie. Without it, the movie would not flow as well and nor would it reflect the supernatural part of the Egyptian culture. So the special effects took this movie to another level of perfection and was a key point in making it successful.


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