Search - Pyramid on DVD

Actors: Derek Jacobi, David Macaulay
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 0min

Studio: Pbs Release Date: 05/06/2009 Run time: 60 minutes


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Movie Details

Actors: Derek Jacobi, David Macaulay
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Educational, History
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/11/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Good intro to pyramids and Egyptology
J. Russ | STOW, OH USA | 08/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"David McCauley, in the video based on his book Pyramid, presents a view of life in the Fourth Dynasty during the reign of Khufu and an account of the building of Khufu's pyramid complex at Giza. While this animated account is primarily a fictionalized history of the building of the pyramid, it holds fairly well to known facts regarding Khufu's reign, and allows the modern viewer a better understanding of life in Old Kingdom Egypt.

MacCauley begins by showing Khufu as a strong and vigorous ruler at the outset of his reign and in the early planning stages of his pyramid complex. This coincides with what is known about the rulers of the Third through Fifth Dynasties starting their tombs pyramid complexes early in their reigns. Khufu's massive pyramid took, according to Herodotus, twenty years to complete and Khufu himself probably reigned twenty-four years. Khufu's vizier was his brother Ankh-haf, who appears in the video as both vizier and as chief architect of the pyramid complex. This, while not evidential, follows the pattern of Zoser in the Third Dynasty whose vizier Imhoptep was also his chief architect.While MacCauley's characterizations of the various members of the royal court are purely speculative, he uses them to explain some enigmas of the dynastic succession after Khufu. MacCauley would have the line of succession move from Khufu to his eldest son, Kawab, then to Hardedef, Baufre, Djedefre and last Khafre. From various king lists it is clear that Djedefre succeeded Khufu and was in turn succeeded by his brother Khafre, but birth order and direct maternal ancestry for all these sons of Khufu is not exactly known. The conflict between the brothers, as seen in the video, is based on speculation by some that Djedefre conspired against his older brother Kawab and in turn was overthrown by Khafre. This speculation is largely based on the marriage of Khufu's daughter Hetepheres II to both her brother Kawab and, after his death, to her half-brother Djedefre. The remarriage to his brother's wife is thought to have possibly been a legitimizing factor for Djedefre's reignThe video implied that Khufu had three queens and that the three small queens' pyramids on the eastern face of Khufu's pyramid would be for these royal ladies. Kawab is associated with Khufu's queen Meritates because of the proximity of his mastaba to her pyramid, the central of three queens' pyramids. Another of Khufu's queens, Henutsen, is associated with the southernmost of the queens' pyramids and was probably the mother of Khafre. The northernmost of these small pyramids, however, is not associated with one of Khufu's queens, but with his mother Hetepheres I. There is also evidence that Khufu had four queens, not three, though the names of the other two are unknown.The video shows the progression in the building of Khufu's pyramid and its complex of temples over the course of many years. It is accurate in its description of the local stone quarried for the inner core and of the Turah limestone, probably ferried down-river, for the casing. Several theories exist on the use of ramps including one long sloping ramp, a series of four ramps spiraling from each corner and a combination of the long ramp with a ramp wrapped around three sides of the pyramid. The depiction in the video chose the four spiraling ramps as the method used by MacCauley's Khufu. It had been long thought that fear of tomb robbers was the motivation for moving the burial chamber from beneath the pyramid to higher up inside the structure itself. Anyone interested in alternate rationales for the locations of these chambers should read "The Complete Pyramid," by Mark Lehner.The building of the mortuary and valley temples in the video expands on, but does not contradict the evidence of archeological excavations in the area around Giza. The covered and highly relief carved causeway was, no doubt, used to transport the Khufu to his final burial chamber and red granite sarcophagus after his embalming in the Valley temple. The equation of the living pharaoh with Horus and the deceased pharaoh with Osirus also parallels what is known of Egyptian belief, although the reference is primarily from later texts. Understandably missing from the video, which was produced in 1988, is any mention of the small satellite pyramid, perhaps for the king's Ka, uncovered in 1993 by archeologist Zahi Hawass. Also missing, however, is any mention of the boat pits, some of which were uncovered in 1954. One somewhat inaccurate impression the viewer gains from the video is that all pyramids were built in the fashion depicted. There are many similar elements among the various pyramid complexes such as alignment to the cardinal points, clearing a foundation of bedrock and chiseling a grid on which to build, and use of lesser quality materials in the core and higher quality material for the casing. Still, from the evidence available, it can be seen that each any every complex is unique in some way and that pyramid building techniques were being invented and reinvented throughout the entire pyramid age. All in all, however, the inaccuracies and fictional extrapolations are minor compared to the value of the video as a whole for students of Egyptology."
Great Look at History for Kids and Adults
Kendra C. Jones | Hillsboro, OR United States | 01/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"David Macaulay's video series has to be one of the best introductions to some of the major architectural achievements in the ancient world. Combining animation with live-action shots of historic sites is a stroke of brilliance as both work hand-in-hand to enhance the viewer's comprehension of the architectural, social, and historical importance of the subjects Macaulay describes. David Macaulay, himself, is a wonderful host on this guide through the ancient world. There are four videos in this series: Pyramid, Roman City, Cathedral, and Castle, and I highly recommend them all."
The Story Of Humankind's Most Enduring Physical Creations
Goodbye Cruel World | Under Your Skin | 12/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Another in the long line of animated adaptations of the coolest series of illustrated architectural books ever written, David Macaulay's collected works. This film shows how and why the great pyramids of the Nile Valley were constructed, and herein imagines the key figures of the era, while giving us a storyline (with murder, political intrigue, and the evil of human ambition) to add interest to an already fascinating subject. Although I personally prefer Cathedral, Castle, and Roman City a little more than Pyramid, I still like this video enough to have watched it about once a year going back into the '90's and wouldn't hesitate to urge anyone who thinks he might be interested to see this DVD for himself."