[CRITICAL] GODS OF EGYPT

In the genre of epic from mythology and age-old GODS OF EGYPT (d’Alex Proyas (Dark City, I, Robot, Premonition) falls directly in line with the works produced by Hollywood in recent years : The clash of the Titans (2011), Immortals (2011), wrath of The Titans (2012), The Legend of Hercules (2014), Hercules (2014), 300 : Birth of an Empire (2014), etc., Budgeted at more than $ 140 million, the film is already promising to be one of the big flops of the start of this year, having just raised more than $ 30 million on its own territory. And when we look at the revenue of the last works ” mythological “, the genre of epic seems to be alive and well in bern : theExodus from Ridley Scott reported that $ 65 million in the United States, 72 million for the Hercules with The Rock, 18 million for the Hercules by Renny Harlin, is only the result of 300 is doing with honors (106 million for a budget of 110) but such a figure is however put into perspective by comparison with the success of the original (210 million for a budget of 65). These contrasting figures indicate a certain disinterest of the public for the mythical tales, especially in the United States. If the superhero Marvel/DC have more than their share of responsibility in this “crisis” of the gender, it would be pertinent to point a finger at the other difficulties of the epic post-2010.

Yet, the fascination of the myths is inherent to the human being ; we love the myths because we see a hidden truth, usually contained in a form of allegorical or symbolic. Since always, the fable mythical contains a true narrative that the ornamentation fabulatrice, that is to say, the imagination of the poet and now filmmaker, would come to hide. Although always pleasant (the quarrel of the gods) and moving (the fate of humanity ; the existence of a hero), what makes us see the story is no less an illusion, a deception, own the charms of the imagination. Thus, when talking about the gods – it is here the gods of the egyptian mythology (Thoth, Osiris, Ra, Anubis, Horus, Apophis, etc), the story reveals the names and faces that came from in the collective imagination by means of oral, written and visual, we see the causes. That is to say, from the top of their sacred character, they explain to the man the great principles which should guide his life (Love, Friendship, Respect, Benevolence, Courage, Honor, etc). The more a man is conscious of himself – and modern man is a rationality to any event – the more the gods are becoming more complex copying, and psychological traits specific to the progress of man : they must now embody precise concepts such as Chaos, good, War, Wisdom, Disorder, etc., as Well, the fable of the mythological answers to very specific criteria which Proyas grabs here with enthusiasm : for example, they need to remain credible, and can therefore free themselves fully of the reality, because all fiction should go back to what it represents. This implies, in particular, a balance between verisimilitude and ornamentation of which the tendency subversive, that sometimes takes the film, would lead to a world of fantasies, idols and icons ; it must also please and to teach, in order to deliver moral truths universal, which currently fall largely in désuétudes.

To observe the reasons for the “semi-failed” movies mythological, the hypothesis of a “crisis of imagination” appears as the embodiment of the ideal of evils that the hollywood industry contemporary. A gap that is as much historical as aesthetic. First, there is a gap between the fable as an ornament, and the fable as the truth, or in other words, the image magnetic the historical past meant to fascinate us and is no longer able to fulfil its function pleasant. While the exemplary story of the hero of any epic story – adventure of Horus and Bek in GODS OF EGYPT – no longer seems to be valid ; the tendency would be rather the hero tortured and martyred way Christopher Nolan or ironic décomplexés way Deadpool. While the gap between the real world and the world of epic was own to the fable of the mythological and of its mode of plot and action, today it is the aesthetic that is in charge in the first place to fill this gap. Like video game (God of War) or a movie (300), the aesthetic of video-ludic immersion is enveloping the structure of these films revisiting the places and mythical characters in a world that is completely virtual ; a world of infinite possibility but the new poets, filmmakers seem to be unable to renew a formal language other than drawing patterns in the current (comics, video games). Digital technologies will then serve to illustrate the former regime of representation, to layout and create a world, but this time ” bigger “, or “disembodied,” not of fiction but of images and icons. What is even more unfortunate, is that the wonder of these films, including the power of irrational seems to be itself infinite, combined with these digital technologies, would have had to radicalize, or even transform, the shapes of yesteryear. Movies mythological recent do alas that deplete a recipe dating back almost sixty years.

”The universality of the epic tale that is obtained from now on by the popularization of the myths, all reduced to the same sign, that of the one-upmanship garish”

Although GODS OF EGYPT tries at times to draw its pin from the play – Proyas is seeking to intensify the reality, to play on the reports of scales (the size of the gods to men), to send us in space (the scenes in Ra) – these elliptical experiments in narrative and formal can not hide the lack of imagination in overall film. The universality of the epic tale that is obtained from now on by the popularization of the myths, all reduced to the same sign, that of the one-upmanship garish. The glory and the greatness promised to these characters in the epic – the first intention of the mythological tale – is summed up finally in a confrontation between the pseudo-dramatic between a robot-hawk-(golden Horus) and a robot-jackal-black (Seth) the shape of which is customized (with the attributes stolen from the gods the dead) seems even more impressive. In Troy (2004), Wolfgang Peterson managed to give the duel between Achilles to Hector a real sensitivity film that came first by the fight choreography, the cutting and the music. The film eulogizing this duel mythical, but remained in a regime of classical representation (like Gladiator for example). Conversely, GODS OF EGYPT deviates from this model of representation, under the pretext that he is the superhero-divine with extraordinary powers. Similar to the model that Marvel/DC, the better to exalt his famous duel egyptian god, Proyas chooses the ease, of the form “magnifying” introduced by the aesthetic regime of the digital age. For a result that is obviously less efficient ; the immersion playful is not fully assumed. As for the cutting digital, that is to say, the explosion of the spatio-temporal setting of these realistic constraints, the demand sensitivity of abstraction that few filmmakers have mastered currently (Lana and Lilly Wachowski, Tsui Hark).

To summarize, because this is obviously a topic that is beyond the scope of the genre of epic fantasy, GODS OF EGYPT suffers from two evils major : the first one is to propose yet another version of mythology at a discount as a narrative model classic ultra outdated (the version of Hercules by Disney appears vastly superior in terms of emotions and enchantment) with a single argument, the confrontation fun between Seth and Horus. And the second being its aesthetic digital without being ugly – it depends on the sensitivity of each individual – seems to be extremely confused, not to say in any way controlled in their manner of distributing places and mythological characters. A new disappointment, which will likely be followed by a new disillusionment at the box-office, but which should nevertheless not change one iota the plans of the hollywood studios : the remake of Ben-Hur is scheduled for September of this year.

Antoine Gaudé

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