Preserved on film: The Mummy, silent cinema and Egyptomania

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper examines the ways in which the figure of the mummy featured in the silent cinema until its first appearance in sound with Boris Karloff’s The Mummy in 1932. It provides a historical account of the emergence of a thriving mummy sub-genre that began in 1899 and peaked in the late teens and early twenties. It then examines how the various mummy films reflected the social and cultural spheres of the period. In doing so, my paper firstly explore the generic evolution of the sub-genre and then its rapid diffusion and decline following the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Secondly, it ponders the question as to why public fascination with the discovery, so apparent in Britain and America during the Egyptomania craze, was not capitalised upon in the cinema. It concludes by pointing out that critics such as Antonia Lant and Tom Hutchinson are incorrect in their assertions that Tutankhamun’s discovery gave a boost to the mummy genre. Instead, I argue, the controversies it raised actually hindered and for a decade killed off what had once been a hugely popular figure in the cinema.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Jul 2004
EventScreen Studies Conference - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jul 20044 Jul 2004

Academic conference

Academic conferenceScreen Studies Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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