01 February 2005

Librarian Movie Reviews

by Heather Phillips

“I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell; but I am proud of what I am.”

“And what is that?”

“I am a librarian.”

This exchange between Rick O’Connell (played by Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Evie) Carnahan (played by Rachel Weisz) in Stephen Sommers’ 1999 remake of 1932’s The Mummy* foreshadows Evie’s transformation from the stereotypical librarian, into a librarian who is also an explorer and adventurer.

In a very real sense, The Mummy revolves around Evie, the librarian in question, and her personal transformation, for it is only when she loses her inhibitions that her personal traits are able to completely blossom. Her transformation begins when she meets, and is kissed by the movie’s hero, Rick O’Connell. It continues as she is rescued from a hook-handed maniac by O’Connell (who else?), who proceeds to save her life again by throwing her overboard from a burning riverboat and into the Nile. This is a baptism into a new life. The next time we see Evie after her emergence from the river, she appears in stark contrast to her previous self. Where before she appeared in a conservative bun, wire-rimmed glasses and a primly enveloping skirt, we see her now with her hair down and curling about her neck, veiled and jeweled in diaphanous black with her eyes rimmed in kohl. Interestingly, when Evie later has reason to fear the potential loss of her hero/love, she reverts back to her bound hair and long skirts, albeit retaining a lower neckline and her kohl-lined eyes.

Her transformation is not only an outward one. With her transformation, her adventurous side comes out. We see her racing pell-mell across the sands toward Hamunaptra, the famed city of the dead. Evie has developed the daring and courage to match her intelligence and curiosity.

She will need these traits in her search for The Book of Amon-Ra, aka, The Book of The Living. Her impetuous curiosity leads her to read an ancient incantation (“It’s just a book. No harm ever came from reading a book.”), which reanimates Imhotep (played by Arnold Vosloo), the mummy of the title. She will need all of her intelligence and courage to vanquish the creature and ride off into the sunset with the hero. She must out-deduce a group of renowned and well-funded scholars, thereby discovering the means to save the world from the “walking plague” she has accidentally unleashed upon an unwitting world.

In The Mummy Returns, Evie maintains her transformation – loose hair and cleavage enhancing clothing, as well as a newly demonstrated ability for knife-fighting and shotgun marksmanship, intact. And though she is now married, a mother, and pursuing adventurous archeological interests, she is still a librarian – and one whom “the Bembridge Scholars have been begging” to direct their archives. In this second movie, as in the first, it is her penchant for collecting information and her ability to effectively transmit it, combined with her willingness to act decisively that form the crux of the movie. Imhotep is back again, and he holds a grudge against Evie and her family for defeating him last time. He kidnaps her son, whom Evie and her husband must rescue through their knowledge of Egyptian history.

Neither movie is a “good movie”, as such; but then, neither is meant to be. These movies are meant to be escapist entertainment filled with amazing special effects, hidden passageways, undying love, ancient secret societies and supernatural terrors set in exotic locales and populated by attractive people. And they do it admirably. So I have no problem recommending these movies, unless, however, you just can’t deal with bugs. Between the giant scorpions, flesh-eating beetles and plagues of flies and locusts, these are movies that dedicated entomophobes might do well to be wary of.

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