Film: The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy (1999) is the first movie in The Mummy Trilogy. It is a loose remake of the 1932 film of the same name.

Set circa early 1920s, it features proficient historian Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and her older brother, lazy archaeologist Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah) on a quest to find the lost city of Hamunaptra, City of the Dead, said to be the hiding place for the wealth of ancient Egypt. Enlisting the help of former legionnaire Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), they inevitably end up accidentally releasing- and then having to stop- a mummy named Imhotep, a former Egyptian priest who was condemned to a hellish immortality, and once awakened unleashes the ten Biblical plagues upon Egypt.

This film provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual:
    • The novelization gives some details that it probably would have been difficult to convey in the movie, such as some of the Carnahan's backstory and the cause and effect of their parent's deaths. Among other things, pouring the scarabs into Imhotep's sarcophagus wasn't just to torture him further... it's an essential part of the ritual that they would eat his flesh, and when he became desperate he would eat them, and this would continue for years. This dark mockery of the cycle of life was an important aspect of making him immortal so that he would suffer forever.
    • There was a lot more detail in the original script that was cut for pacing, including an expansion on Imhotep's backstory, the rest of the plagues, and titbit explanations on minor issues. The original script can be viewed here.
  • Almost Kiss: Rick and Evy when they both get drunk during the first night in Hamunaptra and he teaches her how to throw a punch. Since Rick clearly holds his liquor better than Evy, Hilarity Ensues.
    Evy: [completely hammered by this point, but attempting to appear dignified] I may not be an explorer- or, or an adventurer, or a treasure seeker, or a gunfighter- Mr O'Connell...! But I am proud of what I am!
    Rick: [pretty much sober] Oh? And that is...?
    Evy: I... am a librarian! [proud smile] And... and I am going to kiss you, Mr O'Connell.
    Rick: [amused] You can call me Rick.
    Evy: [smiling] Rick... [leans in]
    Rick: [stops smiling and leans in as well]
    Evy: [passes out]
    Rick: [exasperated/disappointed look]
  • An Arm and a Leg: During the final fight, Rick slices off Imhotep's arm. After tossing him away, Imhotep is able to reattach it.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The Medjai, the descendants of Pharaoh's bodyguards who try to keep people away from Hamunaptra, and Imhotep. Interestingly, despite maintaining their vigil and still taking the ancient religious elements seriously they have all converted to Islam by the time of the movie.
  • And I Must Scream: Imhotep's fate prior to his release by the main protagonists. His tongue was cut out, he was wrapped in bandages to the point of immobilization, and was then locked in a sarcophagus with a bunch of flesh-eating scarabs. To be eaten alive. Forever.
  • Artistic License Geography:
    • Right at the beginning, during the opening shot of Thebes, pyramids are visible, but there never were any pyramids built around Thebes. You can also see a small version of a Sphinx in front of the pyramids, making the whole set look like Giza, in Cairo. Apparently, somebody believed that Ancient Egypt without pyramids would not be realistic.
    • Then the opening (modern day) scene: what's the French Foreign Legion doing in Egypt (a British protectorate)? Ancient Egypt at its height didn't expand anywhere near what became France's African colonies.
      • This is somewhat mitigated by Rick mentioning that his unit deserted to go treasure hunting, but that just raises more questions, especially since he mentions them marching across Libya (An Italian Colony) to reach Egypt.
  • Artistic License History:
    • The Book of the Dead and the Book of Amun-Ra are both made to look like a bunch of black stone and gold (respectively) tablets put together in a form resembling a modern-day book. The Ancient Egyptians would have written their books on papyrus scrolls. Even if they could make the books the way they're depicted, the Book of Amun-Ra would never have been made out of pure gold - it would have been obscenely heavy.
    • Hamunaptra is a real place and was really nicknamed 'City of the Dead', but it is the ruined city in India, a relic of unknown civilization destroyed several millennia ago.
    • Imhotep decides not to kill Beni and instead have him work for him when Beni begins to pray with a Star of David in his hands. Imhotep recognizes Hebrew as the language of "the slaves", but despite the Biblical account there is no historical evidence that the Hebrews ever suffered mass enslavement in Egypt.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Ardeth Bay appears to say the same sentence three times. Granted, he changes intonations. In case you're interested, he says "The desert will kill him".
  • Audible Gleam: When Beni's bagging all that golden treasure from Hamunaptra (which winds up in Rick and Evy's hands after he bites it, and probably paid for their Big Fancy House in the sequel).
  • Author Appeal: The Mummy (1932) is Stephen Sommers' favorite movie, and he worked for years to get a crack at making his own version of it. This is the result.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: As Rick explains, his platoon shown at the beginning of the film were so certain they could find Hamunaptra they marched out into the desert against orders to find it. And they did. Rick and Beni were the only ones to come back.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Beni serves Imhotep purely out of fear and greed, and he clearly loathes every minute of it, except the part where he taunts the eyeless Burns, perhaps because he blames them for unleashing Imhotep. By the end of the movie he finds out being the toadie for an undead dark wizard is really not all it's cracked up to be.
  • Big "NO!": The Egyptologist when he hears the Mummy's resurrection: "NO! You must not read from the book!"
  • Bilingual Bonus: In-Universe: Beni Gabor can apparently pray in several different languages, so any available gods passing can hear. Not to mention Evy's ability to read, write and speak Ancient Egyptian and possibly many other languages.
  • Blunt "Yes":
    Dr. Bey: We are part of an ancient secret society. For over three thousand years we have guarded the City of the Dead. We are sworn at manhood to do any and all in our power to stop the High Priest Imhotep from being reborn into this world.
    Ardeth Bay: Now, because of you, we have failed.
    Evelyn: And you think this justifies the killing of innocent people?
    Dr. Bey: To stop this creature? Let me think...
    Ardeth and Dr. Bey: YES!
    • Or later in the film:
    [mummies rise from the floor]
    Rick: Who the hell're these guys?
    Ardeth: Priests... Imhotep's priests!
    Rick: ... Alright, then.
    [More Dakka ensues]
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: Evy's introduction scene has her knocking down every bookshelf in the library she works in, by accident.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: When Beni gets lost in the pyramid, the recently resurrected Imhotep is about to kill him as the cowardly Beni prays to various gods in an attempt to ward him off. When Beni starts to chant in Hebrew, Imhotep recognizes the language and instead forces Beni into his service, since having someone around who can actually understand him would be useful to someone who's planning to conquer the world.
  • Cats Are Magic: At two points, a normal cat is able to ward off Imhotep because "cats are the guardians of the underworld". This is exploited only the once, because Imhotep completes his regeneration soon after and becomes immune to whatever the cat would supposedly have done to him. In the Licensed Game of the sequel, cats drain Imhotep's life bar.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The flesh-eating scarabs. OK, these were important when they first showed up, but still...
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Winston.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Jonathan picks the key that opens seemingly every locked Egyptian artifact in existence out of Rick's pocket before the start of the first movie, then swipes it again out of Imhotep's robes during a struggle near the end.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • As part of his punishment for murdering Pharaoh Seti I, Imhotep is buried alive in a sarcophagus filled with flesh-eating scarab beetles.
    • Beni Gabor, who has spent the movie betraying everyone, faces a slow death by dehydration and starvation after being trapped in Hamunaptra's treasure chamber. That's bad enough, especially given that the single torch he has is going out. Cue those self-same flesh-eating scarab beetles.
    • Some hired locals were sprayed with acid when they pry open a pass in the tomb and trigger a booby trap.
    • Everybody unlucky enough to be in the vicinity of the chest (that held the Book of the Dead and Anck-su-namun's canopic jars) when it is opened- they get their flesh sucked away by Imhotep.
    • The priests who helped Imhotep in the prologue are mummified alive.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Evy reads from a book that sets off the events of the first movie, and that conveniently prevents the production company from having to pay more actors.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Imhotep, whose punishment for having an affair with the Pharaoh's favorite wife, killing the Pharaoh, and trying to raise the dead is to be eaten alive by scarabs. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, once the scarabs are done and he comes back he has all the powers of the Ten Plagues of Egypt.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Subverted by Ankh-su-namun in her mummy form. She looks exactly as you'd expect a 3000-year-old mummified corpse to look, but she was gorgeous when she was alive.
  • Damsel in Distress: Evy a couple of times. One of the times is actually a subversion since she goes with the villain willingly to save everyone else (though it's not explained how she ended up unconscious and chained to a slab; note that it is shown in the original uncut script).
  • Deadly Dust Storm: Imhotep has power over them, can even turn into one.
  • Death by Materialism:
    • Beni. He just got a little too greedy with the gold he was thieving from Hamunaptra- the guy already had a huge saddlebag and simply had to go back for more.
    • The prison warden steals a wall decoration that's actually a live scarab beetle... which burrows into his foot, up his entire body, up his face, then starts eating his brain.
  • Death Seeker: Winston Havlock, a WWI pilot who survived when all his buddies died in glorious combat. In fact, when the heroes recruit his assistance against Imhotep, and tell him point blank that he'll probably die as everyone else who got involved has died, he sounds downright giddy at the prospect.
    Winston: [as Imhotep's sandwave is about to bring down the biplane] Here I come, laddies! [laughs]
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Beni ran away and left his so-called comrades to be killed by the Tuaregs; he locked himself in the tomb, even shutting out his "friend" Rick; and worst of all, he became Imhotep's servant in order to save his own miserable neck.
    • The Foreign Legion commander at the beginning raises his sword to give the order to charge... and then drops it and gallops away, leaving Rick to give the order to attack.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: The British Egyptologist tells Evy "You must not read from the book!" She does anyway. Subverted in he declares this after she's already done what she wasn't supposed to.
  • Dwindling Cast: As Imhotep slowly works his way down the cursed, and as everyone who tries to help stop him dies.
  • Eagleland: The Americans, oh so very much. It's lampshaded a bit, though.
    [the barge is burning, and the Trigger Happy Americans are gleefuly shooting up the Medjai]
    Jonathan: [with disgust] Americans.
    • That being said though, they are still benevolent and team up with our British/American/Egyptian heroes to stop the mummy, so they are a combination of type 1 and 2.
  • Eye Scream
    • When Imhotep is accidentally released he is a rotting corpse, without eyes. Guess how he gets them... not to mention the "My eyes! My eyes!" screams. Imhotep also takes his tongue and then his very life essence the next day.
    • When the boat is attacked, Evy uses a candle to the eye as self-defense.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four Americans in the first film: O'Connell is choleric, while Henderson is sanguine, Daniels is melancholic, and Burns is phlegmatic.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Terence Bey refers to the plagues of Egypt when scolding Evy for destroying the library, and she herself later refers to them about an hour into the film when telling the others about the Hom Dai. Imhotep brought these plagues back with him when he was resurrected.
    • The collapsing bookshelves in the library set up the destruction of Hamunaptra at the end, especially the falling pillars.
    • When Evy and Jonathan show Terence Bey the map a scene or so later, lines of dialogue from Jonathan refer to the treasure chamber at Hamunaptra and how the city would sink into the ground at the flip of a switch. This is seen and goes on to happen at the end of the film.
    • Rick's Forced Kiss to Evy while imprisoned early on sets up how the two will end up together at the end of the film and the sequels, as does the later scene of Evy nearly falling asleep on Rick's shoulder while riding camels and when Evy is very drunk and passes out before she can kiss Rick.
    • The prison warden's hatred of bugs. He's later killed by the scarabs.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Winston.
  • Groin Attack: This is ultimately how Beni escapes from Rick shortly after being interrogated. Later Rick does it to one of Imhotep's mummy priests.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The Imhotep's mummy priests.
  • Hidden Depths: Jonathan, while being lazy, childish and a thief, is also surprisingly knowledgeable about the Bible, and can kind-of read Ancient Egyptian.
  • Hollywood Homely: Apparently glasses and having her hair done up completely hides the fact that Evy is, to put it bluntly, gorgeous. It takes up until she loses her clothes to fire and has to buy replacements from some locals for Rick to notice her looks.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Rick says this about his first kiss with Evy, since he was about to be hanged. He seems surprised when she takes offense.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Rick O'Connell interrogates Beni for information about Imhotep's plan by shoving him just inches away from a ceiling fan.
  • Jerkass: The British Egyptologist is both sexist and annoyingly smug. Unlike his American associates, he's lacking in sympathetic qualities.
  • I Warned You: Rick warned Evy not to mess with the Book of the Dead.
    Evy: We released him and we are going to stop him!
    Rick: "We"? We didn't release him, I told you not to read the book, didn't I tell you not to read the book?
    Evy: (rolls eyes) Fine! Me, me, me, me, I, I, I woke him up and I intend to stop him!
  • Karmic Death: Beni Gabor's greed comes back to bite him, just as Evy warned. In scarab form.
  • Kiss of Distraction: Evy kisses Imhotep in order to break his concentration so the sandstorm he's creating to kill the heroes disperses.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Rick and Evy both steal from the American team at different points.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
  • Last Request: Comes up humorously when Rick is about to be hung:
    Executioner: Any last requests, pig?
    Rick:' Yeah, loosen the knot and let me go. (The executioner hesitates, and asks the warden in Arabic if they should honor the request.)
    Warden: Of course we don't let him go!
  • Legion of Lost Souls: Rick and Beni are in one at the beginning of the film.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Evy, increasingly throughout the movie.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Subverted; when the heroes finally "kill" Imhotep, the whole place starts coming down on them. It was actually Beni's fault, leading to his Karmic Death.
  • London England Syndrome: Because apparently we can't figure out that yes, this is the Cairo in Egypt.
  • Logical Weakness: The mummies of Imphoteph's priests, and the Pharoah's guards, being walking dried-out corpses, are weak to fire or just plain physical force, which makes them shatter like glass.
  • MacGuffin: The golden Book of the Living, the black Book of the Dead, and the canopic jars containing Anck-su-namun's internal organs.
  • Man on Fire: One Meji gets set on fire when the boat's attack.
  • Meganekko: Evy, for not goddamn long enough.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Imhotep is often shirtless in both this and the squel.
  • Neck Lift: Imhotep does two. One to Jonathan, and plenty more to O'Connell.
  • Nerd Glasses: Worn by Evy in the beginning, and shed for good not long after - which is odd because contacts didn't exist in the 1930's.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: The villain's Arc Words of the first movie: Death is only the beginning.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Evy reading from the Book of the Dead. She at least resolves to fix it.
  • No Name Given: Ardeth Bay in the first film, to the point where it's surprising on repeat viewings to realise they never mention it once.
  • Noodle Incident: The movie never tells us why O'Connell is in prison when Evy first meets him. All he ever says of the incident is "He was just looking for a good time."
  • Meaningful Echo: Anck-su-namun's second death is shot almost exactly like her first; her shadow is cast upon the wall while she doubles up as a weapon is driven into her stomach. Only this time, instead of killing herself, she's being stabbed and then hacked to pieces by the mummy guards.
  • Mortality Ensues: It turns out that the companion book to the Book of the Dead doesn't kill the villain when read from. What it does is remove his immortality, allowing him to be killed like a mortal.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Said by the Egyptologist during the locust swarm heralding Imhotep's rebirth as the full weight of the situation dawns upon him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Evy reads from the book, brings back Imhotep and gets an awful lot of people killed as a result.
  • Nothing Personal: Both Evy and Jonathan take turns insulting the American members of rival expedition, pausing to add "no offence" to Rick each time.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: At the climax, Ardeth gets dragged off fighting Imhotep's priests, and is presumed dead. He reappears alive and well once everything's over, alive and well, having apparently destroyed all those mummies he was fighting single-handed.
  • One-Handed Shotgun Pump: Done by Rick, stating, "I believe in being prepared."
  • Picky People Eater: Imhotep is probably one of the pickiest people eaters around. He took body parts only from the people who had basically stolen his. Justified in that his curse requires him to consume the specific people who opened the container holding the book in order to regenerate. Then again, after being fully regenerated in The Mummy, he decides to do this to Rick.
  • The Psycho Rangers: Though they are neither actually evil nor equal in number, the American expedition in the first part of the first film are identifiably counterparts to the main team: both groups have scholars (Evy/the Egyptologist), American adventurers (Rick/the "cowboys"), early casualties (the warden/the laborers), and heavily flawed comic relief (Jonathan/Beni).
  • The Punishment: Imhotep's being mummified alive in a sarcophagus full of man-eating scarabs for his blasphemous acts. On the up side, he gets Cursed with Awesome and can return from death with very little help from stupid people. Meanwhile, his punishers spend the rest of their lives (as do all of their descendants) keeping him cooped up. Clearly, the punishment was worth it!
  • Present Company Excluded:
    Jonathan: And when those damn yanks go to sleep- no offense-
    Rick: None taken.
    Jon: - we'll dig our way up and steal that book right out from under them.
    Rick: Are you sure you can find this secret compartment thing?
    Evy: Oh, yes, if those beastly Americans haven't beaten us to it- no offense.
    Rick: None taken.
  • Red Herring: During the climax, Beni takes a moment to pull a small golden relic from one of the bags of loot he's carrying, and the camera lingers for a moment as he examines it. It looks similar to the key to the Book of the Dead, implying that as the black book had a black key, the golden Book of the Living needs a gold key that Beni has found... nope. Both books use the same key, and this scene is just there to throw you off.
  • The Remake: It's a re-imagining of the original black and white horror classic.
  • Removable Turret Gun: Ardeth plucks the mounted machinegun from the plane before it sinks into the quicksand. Justified as the gun in case is a regular infantry light machine gun.
  • Rivers Of Blood: The Bible example gets a Shout-Out. Upon Imhotep's awakening, all the water in Egypt turns into blood.
  • Romance-Inducing Smudge: Inverted, where Imhotep's romance with Anck-su-namun leads him to smear her body paint.
  • Sadly Mythtaken:
    • Imhotep is scared by cats in the movie due to the claim that cats are the guardians of the doors of the the Egyptian underworld. While there are a few cat deities in Egyptian mythology (one of them, Sekhmet is actually pretty terrifying), they were associated with other aspects, to be specific, war, disease, hunting, fertility, and motherly love. It would have made much more sense to have him be afraid of snakes, since most of the deities assigned with duties like punishing the damned in the afterlife were horrific snakes, such as Khetti, or the servants of Seker, whose job was essentially to punish people like Imhotep. Plus, then Imhotep would have had an excuse to say "Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?" as a Shout-Out.
      • Actually the cat goddess Bastet was tasked with destroying the evil serpent Apophis to defend Ra. Seeing as Imhotep is not just an evil soul but a sorceror it makes sense.
    • The Ten Plagues of Egypt were caused by the Hebrew God in order to liberate the Hebrew people, so it's pretty bizarre that an Egyptian curse would recreate or utilize said plagues. Made stranger by the fact that Imhotep identifies Hebrew as the language of slaves, meaning when he was cursed the plagues hadn't even happened yet.
  • Save the Villain: Rick attempts to save Beni at the end, but the latter doesn't make it out in time.
  • Say Your Prayers: Beni's prayers are played humorously, as he prays to several gods in several different languages before praying in Hebrew actually winds up saving him, because its a language Imhotep understands.
  • Shooting Superman: People will not stop shooting Imhotep even though he is Immune to Bullets. Even after Ardeth has told people that no mortal weapons can harm him, they shoot Imhotep. At least they slow him down. Probably also a case of When All You Have Is a Hammer.
  • Slimeball: Beni Gabor.
  • Squick: In-universe, both Rick and Jonathan are disturbed when Evy goes in to explicit detail as to what mummification entails.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • "No harm ever came from reading a book."
    • This little gem:
      Rick: You're gonna get yours Beni! YOU'RE GONNA GET YOURS!
      Beni: Oh like I never heard that before!
    • Then later on:
      Evy: You know nasty little fellows like you always get their comeuppance.
      Beni: Hehehe.....They do?
      Evy: Always.
  • Spit Take
    • Jonathan is getting drunk in the camp battle; Beni runs up and takes a heavy swig of the Glenlivet, and then spit-takes it onto Jonathan as Ardeth Bay rides up behind them.
    • All the characters in the bar do spit-takes when they realise the water has turned to blood.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Book of The Dead and the Book of the Living. The Book of the Living gives power over the living and can take life, the Book of the Dead gives power over the dead and can give it. Also, the latter can remove an undead person's immortality and grant command of mummies. Fancy.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Evey, at the beginning, manages to level an entire library by accident. Her employer's horrified reaction, and following rant ("Compared to you, the other plagues were a joy!") suggests this isn't the first time she's done something like this.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Imhotep's curse rendered him terrified of cats. It Makes Sense in Context, though, given that cats are the guardians of the underworld, a place which he surely does not wish to return.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Medjai. When Evy, scandalized, asks if they're willing to kill innocents to stop Imhotep (who is fully capable of ending the world), they snap out an emphatic "Yes!"
  • We Will Meet Again: Imhotep corners the heroes, and is taking Evy away to be sacrificed. Before the bad guy can leave, Rick O'Connell looks right into Imhotep's eyes and says, "I'll be seeing you again" with all the menace and hatred and promise the man can muster. Imhotep, who doesn't understand a word (the man's an ancient Egyptian who doesn't speak English) gets the message anyway, but he's so assured of his near invincibility that he only reacts with mild amusement. Turns out, underestimating O'Connell was a huge mistake.
  • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?:
    Evelyn: [completely drunk] I know- you're wondering, what is a place like me doing in a girl like this?
    Rick: ... Yeah, something like that.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • "Watch for bugs. I hate bugs." Guess what gets him.
    • Imhotep for cats due to the whole "guardians of the underworld" thing. Too bad this is only used in a rather throwaway manner.
  • You! Exclamation: Evelyn exclaims this to Ardeth when he turns up in the Cairo Museum.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Without the stock phrase exchange, but Imhotep promises to spare the rest of the party if Evy comes with him so that he can perform the ritual. Naturally, once she's in hand, he orders his followers to kill the rest of them. Of course, the rest of the group had made it extremely clear they planned to follow and try to stop the ritual, so not attacking them would have been fairly silly.
  • Zombie Gait:
    • Imhotep's enthralled in the first movie. Lampshaded, somewhat, by Jonathan, who shambled along with them to avoid their wrath.
    • Averted with the actual mummies, though; they all move almost as quickly as people and Imhotep can move considerably faster.