Biblical Archaeology Review 42:6, November/December 2016

Strata: Tinsel Town’s Take on Ancient Egyptian Myth

Often when we think of Egyptian mythology (and Near Eastern mythology in general), we find their myths not only foreign, but strange and very hard to imagine in our modern, Western minds. Gods of Egypt, Hollywood’s newest attempt at adapting Egyptian myths, does a fantastic job of bringing these ancient stories to life in a visually beautiful and understandable way.

Of course, like any Hollywood film, Gods of Egypt adjusts, modifies and ignores the original source content at times. Take the nightly fight between Ra (the sun god) and Apophis, a chaos serpent—who, thanks to the film’s CGI special effects, looks like a chaos worm vacuum cleaner with rows and rows of sharp teeth. In the Egyptian tales, Ra has the help of other deities, including Set, the film’s antagonist, in fighting Apophis every night. However, in the film Ra travels alone. He tries to convince Set (his son) to join him and eventually replace him, but Set turns him down. The lure of earthly power is far too great for Set to give up for a less glorifying role.

Gods of Egypt gets many other elements right (and wrong), and overall the film is entertaining and interesting. The film’s addition of a human hero, Bek, helps to bring the gods down to a relatable level as he teaches them (especially Horus, our hero) the virtues of kindness, compassion and honesty.

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