Pharoah | Chicago Reader

Pharoah

There's a marked anti-Soviet subtext to this 1966 Polish drama—a fictional pharaoh tries to bring democratic reforms to Egypt, only to clash with corrupt ministers who have a stranglehold on the government—yet it's thoroughly commanding as a period spectacle. Director Jerzy Kawalerowicz (Mother Joan of the Angels) makes stunning use of color and wide-screen, evoking primitive awe with his framing of the barren desert landscape and displaying a sophisticated, modernist sensibility in his hard-angled shots of architecture and crowds. The film contains almost no music; the diegetic sound effects (particularly those of bronze weaponry) assume an uncanny power, playing as important a role as the visual imagery in bringing the ancient world to life. Novelist-filmmaker Tadeusz Konwicki (Salto) collaborated with Kawalerowicz on the script. In Polish with subtitles.

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