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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

History Channel, no date

We see mummies, the Egyptian Afterlife, the journey of the soul, plenty of very nice re-enactments, experts, and - of course - "The Book of the Dead", which in this case happens to be the scroll of Ani. However, this mainly is the story of the famous Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge. Who seems to have been a bit of an entrepreneur and whose former reputation seems to have suffered a little on account of present day views regarding the ownership of archaeological treasures.

It makes me sad to see that the core bussiness of organised religion has hardly changed at all. For those ancient Egyptians already knew how to turn promises of eternal life into money. All in all this is a nice film and certainly worth watching. But do we learn anything new about the contents of the Book of the Dead ? Not really. If that is what you want you'll be better off buying a couple of good books on the subject.

Die Geschichte des Todes

Prounen Film, 2008

This is a very nice documentary film, split up into 4 episodes. There are a few experts who come to make their comments: Hartmut Zinser (Religion), Andreas Scholl (Archaeology), Horst Bredekamp (Art History) and Etienne Francois (History). Apart from that, it is a bit like watching a slide-show with a voice-over. Having said that, the images are interesting and beautiful. We learn what the ancient Romans thought about death. There's the wealthy Romans buried alongside the Via Appia, and the Christians in their dusty catacombs. On to the Middle Ages when people were in fear of death, damnation and the fires of Hell. We are shown the Papal monuments in St. Peter. Next stop: the Kaisergruft in Vienna. There are the natural mummies inside the Capucine Catacombs of Palermo. We make a quick visit to Père-Lachaise in Paris. And in Vienna we go to the Zentralfriedhof and the Pathologisch Anatomisches Bundesmuseum. There are the space-saving graves of the cemetery of Barcelona. And - surprisingly - the film ends with 9/11 and Ground Zero. I think it is a great film that I have no problem recommending. Please note: it is in German and without subtitles. But the main thing are the images and I would still be watching it if the soundtrack was in Chinese...

GHOST TOUR OF GREAT BRITAIN - The Most Haunted Graveyards in Britain

Ghost Tour of Britain, no date

Once again we get to get to hear about the vampire gambler in his pyramid grave. In the graveyard of Liverpool Cathedral you can find grey ladies, white ladies, vampires (or so we are told and sadly that is all that we are told) and the "Limping Spectre".

Highgate Cemetery and its large black figure also gets a mention. Go check it out for yourself. WWW.FELIXFILMS.NET.

Momies, Tombeaux Oubliés - (FRENCH LANGUAGE)

National Geographic (France), 1998

National Geographic has been around for ages, publishing great material. This happens to be a French language edition of an interesting documentary film about different types of mummies from all over the world. If you are interested in mummies, do not miss this one. Undoubtedly there will be an English version available somewhere. If not, just look at the wonderful pictures, or better still, surprise yourself and learn to understand French. Hey, even I have managed, so it can not be all that hard.

Mysterious Forces Beyond

Orion Channel, 2004

This double DVD features six items:

   Episode 1 - "Heaven and Beyond - Angels"

Angels are messengers from God and a reality to some. "A marketing trick", according to one skeptic. Nice pictures. There is a therapist who uses angels to help her patients. The priests and scientists do not agree. I am not surprised.

   Episode 4 - "Death & Paranormal - Reunions with the Dead"

Seeing dead people is a common experience. Are they visions, hallucinations, or are they for real ? Dr. Moody appears to have developed his "psychomanteum" where people who want to contact their dead relatives can gaze into a black mirror. Many years ago, I made a rather nice looking black mirror myself, which seemed to be working just fine. Hey, why pay money to a "psychomanteist" if there is DIY ? Some people use crystal balls. I use one made out of black onyx, which works just as well. Like someone in this episode says: "We see what we want to see". And then continues: "We know how the brain can fool itself." My feelings exactly.

   Episode 5 - "Death & Paranormal - Reincarnation"

The Egyptians built a cult around it and so did the Bhudists. And other cultures and religions. But there is no scientific evidence for it. Someone did investigate the relation between birth defects and wounds from a (supposed) previous life. There is past life regression therapy where some people discover - surprise, surprise - that they were famous historical persons in their previous lives. Oh yeah, I bet they were. Why be some low-life if you could have been the Emperor Napoleon himself ? What was it this guy said in the previous episode: "We see what we want to see". And "We know how the brain can fool itself."

   Episode 6 - "Death & Paranormal - A Journey to the Other Side"

All about near death experiences. Are they dreams ? Hallucinations ? A wife-beater has a heart attack and sees the Light at the end of the tunnel, meets Jesus and becomes a priest. Fortunately there is Dr. Beyerstein who seems to have both feet on the ground. I quote: "I don't think it's a good idea to mix science with religion." Quite ! And here is another one: "As far as I know there is no evidence at all that anyone has ever come back from brain death." Dr. Beyerstein, you are my hero !


Rest in Peace

Ed. Filmladen, Vienna, no date

This is a most excellent one-and-a-half-hour documentary film about Death. Nice choice of subjects, beautifully filmed. The film starts with a marvelous intro: very nice images of the famous Mummies of Palermo. Then opening titles and straight on to Isaiah Owens an American undertaker who takes great pride in the preparation of corpses for their funeral. On to Bucharest where Mark Benecke (assisted by his wife Lydia) has found himself a maggot-infested corpse for his workshop on forensic entomology. Apart from his forensic expertise he also shares his views on "the meaning of life". Next stop: the island Lyr in Sweden where we meet Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak who wants us to turn corpses into compost as an alternative to burial and cremation. We visit an institute in Hamburg where corpses are taken apart in search of transplantable bits and pieces. Then to Nepal where we meet "fireman" Gyan Prasad Acharya, who cremates corpses on the riverside. Then to Phoenix, Arizona and Aaron J. Drake who shows us around his hi-tech institute for cryonics. On to Vienna where Artist Harald Köck seems pretty much obsessed with death and corpses. And after all this doom and gloom we go to Mexico where we arrive just in time for the festivities of the Day of the Dead. And now a FRIENDLY WARNING : Perhaps this is not everyone's cup of tea. In fact there are a number of scenes that are quite revolting, so don't watch this after a heavy meal. And if the sight of decomposing bodies does upset you, don't watch it at all. Damn good film though !

Saqqara - op zoek naar verdwenen Graftombes

National Geographic, 2002

A very nice and interesting documentary about lesser known Egyptian tombs and mummies. To me, National Geographic has become a standard for very high quality film and photography. And they definitely did not disappoint me on this one. It is amazing how much material from ancient Egypt has already been found. And it really blows your mind to see how much of it is still waiting out there to be discovered. If you are into mummies or Egypt, go see it !

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

ABC Distribution, no date

I guess it must have been about 45 years ago that I first read the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And I was stunned to find that so many of the images described in the book were quite similar to the dreams that I dreamt in those days. But let us not waste time reminiscing. On to the documentary ! So what have we got ? We are promised Leonard Cohen. As a presenter ? Doing the voice-over ? Please don't let him sing !

FURTHER INFORMATION TO FOLLOW.

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last update May 2012
Obviously all the rights to the images are the property of their rightful owners.

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