Nefertiti is familiar to modern
viewers largely because of the stunning portrait bust of the beautiful queen,
but as it turns out, there is potentially a lot more of a story behind Nefertiti than we realized. Nefertiti
Resurrected interweaves the story of Egyptologist Dr. Joann Fletcher's
research into Nefertiti's role in history with Fletcher's attempt to identify a
mystery mummy as Nefertiti herself.
The material itself is
intriguing, but the reason that Nefertiti Resurrected doesn't get a higher mark
is largely that it's a fascinating 45-minute-long documentary trapped in a
There are two main elements to
the documentary: the explanations of Nefertiti's history and possible identity
by Dr. Fletcher and other Egyptologists, and the live-action re-enactments of
Nefertiti's life. Both elements are puffed up as much as possible. Not only do
we hear Dr. Fletcher explain her theories and her research (which is quite
interesting), we follow her around like a lost puppy, trailing her as she walks
around various sites, or as she takes a look at this or that piece of evidence.
Someone must have told her that it's a good thing to be enthusiastic on film...
but evidently no one told her that there's such a thing as "too much of a
good thing." After a while, listening to Dr. Fletcher enthuse for the
umpteenth time about how everything is "Wonderful!" and
"Fabulous!" and "Exciting!" and "Thrilling!"
moves from the merely annoying to the absurdly comic.
Liberally splashed through the
program are the historical re-enactments, which ideally ought to be
illustrations of points that the documentary makes, but that here tend to take
on a life of their own. The re-enactments are very well done, to be sure; they
present a nicely vivid picture of what the ancient Egyptians and their
surroundings looked like, and how they behaved. It's just that the sequences
are given too much emphasis on their own merits, with too little explanation of
what they're supposed to be illustrating.
Oddly enough, the other flaw of
Nefertiti Resurrected is how poorly it explains some elements of the
program. Throughout the documentary, key bits of information are explained
either insufficiently or in a confusing manner, such as the reason why
Nefertiti and Akhenaten came into conflict with the priests of Amun, or why the
three "mystery mummies" were in a separate chamber and Dr. Fletcher
was only allowed a short time with them before they were sealed up again.
Despite its imperfect
presentation, Nefertiti Resurrected does present an interesting topic
and some fascinating information: as I said, it has about 40 or 45 minutes'
worth of solid material. If you're willing to have some patience with the
program, or if you haven't seen many other documentaries on ancient Egypt, it's
not bad; also in its favor, it does present archaeology as the problem-solving
discipline that it is.
The Discovery Channel presents Nefertiti
Resurrected in a solid widescreen transfer. The image, which is in its
original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, is not anamorphically enhanced, so it doesn't
have the sharpness of detail that it might have had, but otherwise it looks
quite good. The print is in perfect condition, with no flaws or dirt appearing,
and colors look natural. Some grain appears in the dimly-lit scenes, but
overall the image is fine.
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is
more than adequate for this documentary. The voices of Dr. Fletcher and the
other interview subjects are generally quite clear, the voiceover narration is
always crisp and clean-sounding, and the re-enactment sequences sound good as
has an assortment of minor special features, none of them particularly
interesting. The bonus section starts out with three trailers for the program,
each emphasizing a different aspect of the documentary ("Movie
Magic," "Passion," and "Science.").
Next, we get a section called
"Explore the Evidence," which consists of an image of the three
"mystery mummies" with tags labeling different parts of the scene:
the elder woman, the boy, the right arm, the shaved head, the defacement, and
the double-pierced ear. Viewers can click on one of the tags to get a text
screen with information about that piece of evidence. However, all of these
text segments just reiterate information that's presented in the documentary
The "video forensics"
section is more substantial. This is a collection of very short featurettes
(presented in anamorphic widescreen, incidentally) in which Dr. Fletcher
elaborates on various aspects of the three mummies and her theory about
Nefertiti: "Three Anonymous Bodies" (1 1/2 minutes), "The Elder
Lady" (2 minutes), "The Child," (1 minute), "The Mystery
Woman" (3 minutes), "The Identities" (1 1/2 minutes), and
"Who Was Nefertiti?" (3 1/2 minutes). These clips are actually more
focused than much of what was put into the main feature, with Fletcher focusing
on conveying information rather than just enthusing about how great it is, but
unfortunately most of what she says overlaps with material that's presented in
the main program.
Lastly, we get two trailers for
other Discovery programs: James Cameron's Expedition Bismarck and Quest
for the Lost Pharaoh.
If you're interested in ancient
Egypt, Nefertiti Resurrected is a good choice as a rental. It's a
fluffed-out version of what could have been a very well done short program, but
the topic itself has enough value that it's worth watching once. If the
material catches your fancy and you want to learn more, you'll want to also
check out Egypt's
Golden Empire, which includes the reign of Nefertiti and Akhenaten in