Tutankhamun world tour sparks debate among antiquities experts

German specialists in restoration work on antiquities in glass and metal Christian Eckmann works on the restoration process of the golden mask of Tutankhamun at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 18 February 2018
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Tutankhamun world tour sparks debate among antiquities experts

CAIRO: Plans to embark on a worldwide tour to showcase 166 artifacts belonging to Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun set for next month have sparked a debate among antiquities experts, a news report said Sunday.
The exhibition is scheduled to tour seven foreign countries, starting from Los Angeles in the United States on March 23 and will continue over the next 7 years, Egypt Antiquities Minister Khalid Al-Anani said.
The exhibition includes 166 artifacts, excluding the basic pieces of Tutankhamun, Anani added. The full collection of Tutankhamun contains about 5,000 pharaonic pieces, he explained, which are scheduled to be displayed at the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum by the end of this year.
Egypt’s Heritage Task Force said that the duration of the overseas show is 7 years, and it is expected to generate close to $50mn.
But academics and scholars from within and outside the Antiquities Ministry are reportedly campaigning against the exhibition over concerns the monuments may be falsified, stolen or replaced.
A Facebook page has been created to call on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to intervene and open an investigation into the exhibition.
Monika Hanna, a member of the campaign, called the exhibition a “catastrophe,” according to Al-Masry El-Youm newspaper.
She said the law of archaeological artifacts allows the rental of duplicates, not originals, and leasing to scientific bodies or museums, not private companies as per the terms of this contract.
She noted that the “insurance value of the golden coffin of Tutankhamun is low,” amounting to only $5 million, and said the company may pay it to Egypt and claim it was stolen.
She expressed concern over the fact that the monuments will remain outside Egypt for 7 years, and wondered if the inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum will be delayed until that time.
Gharib Sonbol, Head of the Central Administration for Restoration and a member of the Foreign Exhibitions Committee, said that an imprint was prepared for all the artifacts that are scheduled to travel to ensure that the pieces will not falsified or replaced.


Film Review: Mowgli’s latest jungle run releases on Netflix

Updated 09 December 2018
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Film Review: Mowgli’s latest jungle run releases on Netflix

CHENNAI: Technology is not a bad thing, but when stretched to the extreme it can hamper films. “Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle,” which was released on Netflix this week, seems to suffer on this precise point.

Directed by the Hollywood legend that is Andy Serkis, the film employs his trademark use of technology that records an actor’s performance in three dimensions then maps the digital character, in this case the animals of the jungle, over the top.

While he is famous for his performance-capture techniques, it can be distracting from the plot and a little bizarre to watch on screen as the all-star cast — Benedict Cumberbatch as Bengal tiger Shere Khan, Cate Blanchett as the snake Kaa and Christian Bale as the panther Bagheera — morph into animal form.

Disney’s 2016 computer animated remake of Rudyard Kipling’s work was a huge hit and Serkis’ effort pales in comparison, but the upside to this latest remake of Mowgli’s adventure is that it focuses on the boy-cub’s (played by Rohan Chand) interaction with other humans and does so delightfully.

According to an interview with The Associated Press, Serkis was deep into planning when Disney’s version was announced, and, although he knew the films would be quite different, there was still pressure to be first. Once that “went away” when Disney beat them to theaters, Serkis said, they decided to take the time they needed to refine the story and get the performances and the technology up to his standard.

The film follows Mowgli as he is captured by a hunter (played by Matthew Rhys) and taken to a neighboring village, where a kind woman (Frieda Pinto) nurses him and even sings him a lullaby. Ultimately, the plot boils down to a choice between two worlds — the jungle and the village — and the young boy must choose between the lesser of two evils.

Serkis’ work has an important message for audiences and shouts loud and clear about the dangers of expanding urban developments in countries like India. The forests are shrinking, says a character in the film, and perhaps this film will shed light on the need to save the wildlife therein.