As a long standing fan of ancient history, archeology, architecture and technology, and with a keen interest in revisionist, or non orthodox theories; I was very pleased to see this DVD title crop up for review and requested the pleasure of covering it.
The film promises a great deal from the title alone. If you then throw in the tag line “The investigation that changes the world”, expectations are raised even further.
Is this just hyperbole or can the film really deliver? Well, let’s see.
In The Revelation Of The Pyramids (I will refer to it as simply ‘Revelation‘ from now on), filmmaker Patrice Pooyard seeks to offer the viewer a new way of regarding the accepted origins and links between a number of key historical sites around the globe, with the building of the great pyramid of Khufu (referred to in the film by the greek form ‘Cheops’) taking centre stage, and the majority of screen time.
Narrated by veteran actor Brian Cox, the overall style of the film’s delivery is distinguished if a little over dramatic in places (hiring an actor to narrate tends to be an indicator that this is an intentional stylistic choice). Having said that, the film is well measured and sober suited enough not to feel in any way insulting of one’s intelligence (unlike so many TV documentaries).
The film runs a nice hour and forty minutes in length too, which is good again for avoiding that awful TV feel of ‘In this show, we’re gonna tell you all about the great pyramid’ – and then the show is barely 45 minutes long including four advert breaks, plus those woefully annoying ‘Coming up in the next part’ preview loops that are entirely pointless to anyone with a brain, and just shameless filler for the witless to not notice a lack of actual content. Wow, now that’s an in depth production, not!
I really hate that, and wish that satellite and cable TV stations didn’t always seem to be aiming for the lowest common denominator when it comes to how ‘in depth’ they usually get with their programming.
Anyway, intellectual rants aside, Revelation seems reasonably thorough and well judged, and you do need to have at least an engaged and alert intellect to stay with it over its 100 minute or so run time.
Having said that, it does try to pack in a lot of information about a lot of things, and do so in a manner that still appeals to the lay person. I felt that it might have been more effective to offer further expansion of key points and broken the whole thing into several hour long ‘episodes’ for TV. This would allow a much longer ‘total’ running time, a slower, more considered pace, with a lot more detail (particularly at the other key sites visited only quite briefly in the film). It hasn’t worked out that way though obviously, and Revelation has intentionally been made a stand alone film. To be fair it does very well in not ever feeling foolishly rushed or lacking in conviction. Kudos must also be given at least for making those briefer segments interesting and tantalising enough for the viewer to maybe want to know more (rather than appearing merely throwaway).
Allow me a slight diversion from the particulars of the film for a moment, as it seems important to provide a context against which Revelation appears to be set.
It always bothers me when ‘orthodox’ academia (in any field); the ‘establishment’ if you like – is seen to adopt or maintain a certain position on something (to the exclusion of all other possibilities), when that position is not backed up by the sort of solid evidence you’d expect. The whole ‘It is, because we say it is’ line falls on stony ground here. This type of scientific myopia is as anathema to me as religious or political faith or allegiance. I believe that the single most important and powerful tool one can ever wield is an open mind. Therefore to discount something that’s outside of the party line, simply because it’s outside of the party line is an abomination to free thinking.
Case in point, the great pyramid in particular has always been an enigma. Most Egyptologists freely admit that there’s very little (if any) hard evidence that actually links the monument to Khufu. Monuments themselves are all but impossible to date, so corroborative data from other sources is always required. However, even with this in mind; the great pyramid is generally accepted to be Khufu’s, and this ‘fact’ gets added to the history books and taught in schools. This one supposition leads to a thousand others, like the idea that, if it’s Khufu’s pyramid, then it ‘must’ be his burial tomb. One absurdity then leads to another, and before you know it, they’re telling you the great pyramid was built in just 20 years. The film demonstrates very ably how completely ridiculous a 20 year build time is, so look out for that part. Orthodox thinking, like political and religious thinking is beset with circular arguments that lead nowhere. So for me, any thorough and honest research into the subject must surely be welcome, and I’m willing to at least listen to alternative proposals with an open mind.
We are all born into a world where ‘the powers that be’ (in their many guises), very much like to convey a sense of surety about the bigger questions of our origins. It seems it’s ok for scholars to argue and be divided over small details, and for those details to be swayed one side or another from time to time and given an official seal of approval, but the big stuff always seems somehow locked to a certain way of thinking and an accepted ‘truth’. Woe betide anyone who offers alternatives, that’s for sure.
There’s a sense that ‘academia’ needs everything to always be neatly wrapped in a shroud of conformity, and very often tied with the thread of faith as well. How unfortunate for all us enlightened beings out there.
Personally, I have rarely, if ever thought this way, and am very glad when others seem to hold similar ideals.
The makers of The Revelation Of The Pyramids certainly seem to think that way.
Now don’t get me wrong, i really liked the film. Being an avid fan of this sort of thing, and reasonably well read; there really wasn’t much in it that i hadn’t seen or read about before (some of it sailing quite close to the grain of Graham Hancock’s amazing Heaven’s Mirror of a few years back, for example). But naturally the hyperbole is on maximum with the film’s premise that some mysterious nameless researcher has been uncovering all this information for decades and is now passing it to the makers of the film yadda yadda – This part (even if 100% on the level) unfortunately can’t help but smack of ‘Alien Autopsy’ and other such hokum. I actually thought it was a bad move to pitch it this way (if it was in fact an artistic choice). There’s just no need. The facts accurately described in the movie speak for themselves and no cloak and dagger mystery and intrigue can impress like the testimony the monuments themselves provide.
Whether it’s the great pyramid, and all its unbelievable architectural precision and repeated use throughout it’s dimensions of not only Pi, but the golden number also, or the great Moai of Easter Island. The amazing and huge geoglyphs at Nazca in Peru or the massive temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. These sites speak volumes, you only have to look at the map….
The film eventually reveals it’s denouement and you’ll either buy it or you wont, but it’s certainly a fun ride getting there.
On a different note, i really liked the original music scored for the film, Jean-Baptiste Sabiani’s work reminded me a little of Eric Serra’s score for the movie The Fifth Element as well as channelling a good dose of Iveson & McCree’s best cues from the original 1996 Tomb Raider video game (and that’s not an insult). The music is certainly well chosen to compliment the nature of the film, and i enjoyed it immensely.
I would have like to have seen a few DVD extras included perhaps, although the ‘mystery’ aspect might have put paid to that i guess.
All in all then a really enjoyable and well pitched film that i think punches above it’s weight in certain areas. The narration gives it a bit of gravitas, at the expense of making it a little showbizzie (if that’s even a word?) in places.
My only fear in actual fact, goes back to my former rant about the anti-intellectual bent of our satellite and cable stations these days, as Revelation is probably a bit above them.