Ancient Two-Fer: Exodus (2014) / Troy (2004)


Sorry, kids, but this is how my mind works: I was listening to a BBC History Extra podcast about ancient Egypt with Egyptologist Joann Fletcher, and then I watched her documentary series “Immortal Egypt” (which, if anyone else has watched it, I’d really like to discuss her hair and dramatic gestures with you) and then I wanted to watch something set in ancient Egypt, but the pickings are slim, so despite bad reviews, I watched Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). Then I STILL wanted more ancient Egypt, tried to watch Nefertiti Queen of the Nile (1961) only to discover it’s TERRIBLE and pouted a bit. Then I was posting costume images to social media, and it was Brad Pitt’s birthday, and I posted some hilarious pics of his abs from Troy (2004), so decided to rewatch it! Then I watched Bettany Hughes’s documentary on Helen of Troy, then listened to an In Our Time podcast about the Trojan War, then saw they’d just posted an episode about Tutankhamun, and now I want to watch the 2016 miniseries about Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb (The Mummy of Tutankhamun) so get ready for a forthcoming review.

[Edited to add: these two films are grouped together because both are set in the ancient world. I ran out of Egyptian films to watch!]

Phew! Onwards!

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Directed and produced by Ridley Scott (Gladiator), this is his version of the biblical Moses story, which he sets during the reign of Ramesses II. When the film came out, there was a lot of flack given to the casting of white actors in Middle Eastern roles, and the fact that Scott describes himself as an atheist. I’m an atheist too, so that second part didn’t bug me so much, although then I wonder why Scott was interested in the first place and didn’t just tell a historical story? Because, as the fabulous An Historian Goes to the Movies explains, there’s no historical basis for the Moses story.

Is the movie any good? It’s fine? I liked the first half much better, in which Moses (Christan Bale) is part of the Egyptian court, because there was a lot more to look at — sets, costumes, etc. Nearly all of the women were wasted: Sigourney Weaver (1492: Conquest of Paradise, Snow White: A Tale of Terror) plays Tuya, wife of pharaoh Seti I (John Turturro), and she only gets to glower about Moses potentially being Hebrew.

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

I feel like this headdress is a little Rick James-y.

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

This is gorgeous but so, so wasted on screen.

Tara Fitzgerald plays Miriam, Moses and Ramesses’ childhood nanny — or is she? She gets to deny she’s anything more, and later give Moses a hug. Woot.

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

Nice wig?

Indira Varma (RomeCarnival Row) plays the high priestess, and she gets to be snarky about how prayers aren’t IMMEDIATELY answered, and that’s it.

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

Were those headdress shapes really made of hair?

Golshifteh Farahani plays Ramesses’ wife, Nefertari, and she’s basically there to give him a son.

2014 Exodus- Gods and King

I don’t even remember seeing this on screen.

The only woman to get any real screen time is Moses’s wife, Zipporah, played by the stunningly beautiful Spanish actress María Valverde (The Limehouse Golem). She’s basically the perfect wife, but it didn’t bug me because she was so riveting to look at, both in her beauty and her facial tattoos and strongly colored costumes.

2014 Exodus- Gods and King

Strikingly beautiful!

The second half of the movie is all about Bale wandering in Canaan, finding god, returning to Egypt, and liberating the Hebrew slaves. It’s very, very un-shiny. I thought Joel Edgerton did a good job at playing Ramesses — I got the cockiness of a new, young ruler trying to make a name for himself. Bale was good, but not good enough to counteract about an hour of bleakness.

Exodus’s costumes were designed by Janty Yates (JudePlunkett & MacleaneCharlotte GrayDe-LovelyKingdom of HeavenRobin Hood). Yates did a lot of press about the film, and I found these two videos about the film’s costumes interesting:

She did a lot of research at the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. Here’s a few of her thoughts on costuming the film:

“All the Egyptians [in the film] wear lamellar armor, which has this petal-shaped metal that’s even more elaborate than chain mail. And because Moses was a top general, his is a little more ornate because he had the wherewithal to have the court craftsmen craft this beautiful cuirass, which is the breastplate, and do some wonderful engraving on it” (For ‘Exodus,’ Janty Yates dresses Moses and Ramses).

On Ramesses’ gold armor:

“That was taken from research. It was drawn in hieroglyphs. There were two or three Ramses’ helmets, one of them looked something like a bees’ nest in blue, and you’d have to have a specific face to pull it off, so we went with the gilded helmet because it just looked terrific. I did absolutely go over the top with the gold because Ramses was appallingly over the top. He must have built something like 80 to 100 statues of himself. He was exceptionally vain but rather wonderful. To exacerbate his gold self was rather joyous” (Costume designer Janty Yates knew ‘Exodus’ posed ‘enormous’ challenge).

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

I felt like it was very heavy-handed to have Ramesses in gold/white and Moses in black. Hmm, who’s going to be the black sheep very soon?

“The Egyptians, we wanted a custom look, even for the slaves, the courtiers. We basically had to start from scratch. We had to build everything, from the palace guards all the way through the principles” (Costume designer Janty Yates knew ‘Exodus’ posed ‘enormous’ challenge).

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

Lots of detail, even on background characters, but I feel like we’re seeing more silk than linen, which it’s my understanding is what was primarily worn.

“Ridley didn’t want [Moses] to be anywhere near Ramses [in color tones]; he wanted him to be completely opposite, i.e. military and impeccable but, of course, he had to be wearing a dress. So we had to butch it up a bit. The jewelry, belts, everything was made by hand” (Costume designer Janty Yates knew ‘Exodus’ posed ‘enormous’ challenge).

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

This was a GREAT color on Bale. Note all the tiny pleating!

2014 Exodus- Gods and King

More of Moses’s tunic, and Ramesses in more casual dress.

“The jewelry on ‘Exodus’ was a big deal. Everyone wore about 15 pieces: headresses, pectorals, bracelets, upper arms, multiple rings, the belts — what we call the aprons” (Costume Designer Janty Yates on Epic Job of Dressing ‘Exodus: Gods and Men’).

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings

Ramesses wears the formal tied-on beard that signified the pharoah in the period.


Troy (2004)

I saw Troy back when it came out, and I weirdly enjoyed it in exactly the sort of sword & sandals way it’s supposed to be appreciated. Rewatching it was the same experience: it’s a lovely bit of fluff filled with gleaming pectoral muscles, boys thwapping each other with swords and arrows, and pretty women being brave. Brad Pitt’s (Interview with the Vampire, Legends of the Fall, Allied) attempt at a slightly less American accent comes and goes hilariously, Orlando Bloom (various Pirates of the Caribbean films, Kingdom of HeavenThe Three MusketeersCarnival Row) is a pretty block of wood, Eric Bana is noble and chiseled, Sean Bean is underutilized, Diane Kruger (Farewell, My Queen) is beautiful but underdeveloped, Rose Byrne (I Capture the CastleCasanova, Marie Antoinette) is the most interesting character (Briseis and Achilles’ love story is ludicrous yet highly entertaining), Saffron Burrows’ (Circle of FriendsMiss Julie, Enigma, Frida) cheekbones could cut glass, and Peter O’Toole clearly just had an eye job.

Peter O'Toole, Troy (2004)

This is the most facial expression you ever see from O’Toole, whose wide-open eyes look terrified throughout.

2004 Troy

Eric Bana could kill anyone just by twitching one pectoral.

Troy‘s costumes were designed by Bob Ringwood (Empire of the Sun, Excalibur). According to the LA Times,

Ringwood was disappointed that there was so little surviving reference material describing or picturing garments worn during the Trojan War era. Homer’s poetic version of the famous battle, for instance, describes clothing and armor of his own time, not those worn three or four hundred years earlier in the actual war. Ringwood made the most of existing resources, beginning with catalogs from museums around the world. He also spent several days in the British Museum studying thousands of tiny figures in bas-relief sculptures. ‘I kept setting off the alarms in the museum by getting too close, but if you make the effort to study them, they’re actually quite accurate depictions.’ The costumes for the royal court in Troy, which he feels are the most historically accurate in the film, are based on these sculptures” (Holly Poe Durbin, “The Art of Costume Design: Annual Motion Picture Exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising” TD & T – Theatre Design & Technology, Spring, 2005, 64-69).

2004 Troy

Helen‘s dress is clearly made from a sari, but it’s pretty! King Priam (left) is wearing a full-length tunic.

2004 Troy

The boys get very geometric armor.

2004 Troy

Pretty sure Helen wears this in Sparta; it’s a totally different color scheme for her. More hot sari action!

2004 troy

In Troy, she’s all white and gold.

2004 Troy

Andromache is in sea-colors.

2004 Troy

Similar but different. More sari!

2004 Troy

White for stressing.

2004 Troy

Briseis is almost always in near-rags, but we briefly see her dressed up for her priestess gig.

I wish I knew more about ancient costume, so if you do, please weigh in on the historical accuracy of the costumes in Exodus and Troy!

39 Responses

  1. Shashwat

    Exodus has some really good costumes and wigs,particularly on the supporting cast.The costumes look like real clothes,not mere props.Only moses sticks out as a sore thumb with his too modern hairstyle and monochromatic clothing when he should be swatched in natural dyes.That hair wig for the priestess,however,is inaccurate.It was a style generally depicted on royalty,and was actually a reed crown with a hollow depression on the top. This is what I have seen searching through the images of frescoes and paintings available online.
    Troy was just a faux historical eye candy with literally zero efforts on wigs, hairstyle and men’s armoury.

    • Roxana

      What was with the Priestess anyway? There were no important priestesses in Ramesside times. God’s Wives of Amun were important in the Eighteenth Dynasty and would become very important indeed some two dynasties later.

      • AsinusAdLyram

        Could have been a priestess of Hathor. She was big from the Early Dynastic Period, and her temples date back as far as the 4th. Royal women were often highly placed in her temples, and in some depictions the priestesses of Hathor were depicted alongside the wives of the Pharaoh.

        • Roxana

          Priestess of Hathor was a common title for royal and Noble ladies in some Dynasties but her High Priestess, if there was such a thing, would have hung out at Denderah, Hathor’s cult center. I don’t recall her ever being much of a national figure. I’m not even sure there was a high Priestess as opposed to a high priest.
          Now there was a supervisor of the Harem of Amun, a lady responsible for the female singers and musicians, a part time job for elite women, but she was an administrator rather than a priestess.
          Contrary to their reputation AEs weren’t a mystical people. Priesthoods, even high priesthoods were just civil service jobs and often combined with many other offices and titles.

  2. Tamara

    Sorry, but I don’t buy this BS about “The Egyptians, we wanted a custom look, even for the slaves, the courtiers. We basically had to start from scratch. We had to build everything, from the palace guards all the way through the principles”.
    If they really did their research so well, and thought about every detail, then why do I see side boob on most of the background female characters? And why does one of them have a ridiculous pony tail a-la Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin? And why does Moses wear medieval ultramarine? And why do half of the fabrics look like nylon chiffon?
    Also, the slaves look nothing like Hebrew people, and Bale even less so.

    • MoHub

      Also, why does Moses have facial hair. He was raised in the Egyptian court and would have been clean-shaven in the Egyptian style as befits his adoptive culture. Also, Moses had a speech impediment, which would have made it difficult for him to command his troops.

      • Roxana

        Excellent point! Moses would certainly have been groomed like any other Egyptian nobleman.

  3. Tamara

    Also, I find it hilarious that Peter O’Toole wears tie dye in Troy.

  4. Alexander Sanderson

    I saw Exodus years ago and I have to say that very little stuck in my memory… I certainly don’t remember Sigourney Weaver looking so gorgeous! I do feel though that her costumes do lean a little towards ‘theatrical/operatic’ Egyptian; but she is certainly an actor who can pull off all that craziness with aplomb – defiantly wearing the costumes whilst refusing to allow the costumes to wear her. I had to laugh at Tara Fitzgerald’s frizzy haystack of a wig. Tragically good. I know just what they were trying to achieve, but how they so completely missed the mark is beyond me. Hilarious!

    • Joanne Renaud

      I’m getting a “page not found” when I click on that link, unfortunately.

  5. Brandy Loutherback

    In Ancient Greece/Troy, Didn’t married Ladies wear their hair up? Wouldn’t Helen try to wear her hair up?

    • Roxana

      In Mycenaean times women seem to have worn their hair in long ringlets bound with ribbons or decorated with jewelry. Like Minoan ladies they wore fitted bodices with bell shaped skirts. Unlike the Minoans Mycenaean ladies covered their breasts. Men wore short tunics showing lots of leg, some images show them wearing what seem to be wide legged shorts. Unlike classical clothing Mycenaean was shaped and sewn not draped.
      What Ionian coast people were wearing I really don’t know but I’m betting against tie dye!

  6. Roxana

    The Exodus narrative is a bit too neat and trope heavy to be strictly historical but it is a historical fact that wandering tribes of semitic Beduins drifted in and out of Egypt from the Old Kingdom on and seeing that the early Hebrews were a federation of linguistically and culturally similar tribes an Egyptian connection is far from improbable.
    That said the costumes are AWFUL from the historical pov. They usually are but Moses’ armor is just plain terrible. Are those breeches? And yes, clothing was made of linen. Silk was unknown until classical times.
    I don’t know what the Troy designer is talking about. Those costumes vaguely resemble classical modes but certainly neither Dark Ages nor Mycenaean styles.

  7. Leona

    My daughter and I refer to Troy as the “Brad Pitt in a skirt” movie….yummy

  8. Teresa

    Referring to the Exodus movie, what High Priestess is that? It would be news to students of Egyptian religion if there were a High Priestess (of any deity) during the Ramesside Period! God’s Wife of Amun, yes, but that isn’t the same thing. And that hair–I don’t know what to say. Looks like an alien, not an ancient Egyptian. I suppose it was inspired by the shape of Queen Nefertiti’s very individual blue crown (the one she wears in the famous Berlin bust), but that crown was unique to Nefertiti, and underneath it she was likely to have had her head shaven, or her hair twisted up out of the way.
    In the photo with the “Rick James-y” comment, the dress is all wrong–it’s not linen. The Egyptians of Ramesses’ time did not have silk (or cotton, for that matter, despite what you might have read in various crap-tastic novels), and the dark and bright colors are highly unlikely, to say the least.
    I wouldn’t expect Ramesses to be going out in public with his head bared, either, even as a Crown Prince, and certainly not as Seti’s co-regent (I take it that’s supposed to be Dad in the nemes headdress, in the background). And there are soldiers wearing a sort of modified nemes in that photo. Nope. Ramesses wouldn’t have had that shiny gold cloak, either, though I expect he would have loved it.
    Another problem I see in the stills (I have no interest ever in seeing ANY Exodus movie) is that the actors, for the most part, look like they are wearing costumes, not clothing they are comfortable in. Maybe if more realistic Egyptian clothing were used, the cast would feel at home in it.

    • Roxana

      Ramesses’ armor is actually very close to the real thing as far as looks, though I’m not sure about the greaves.

      • Faye

        The greaves are anachronistic, and look very out of place to me as an Egyptologist.

        • Roxana

          I didn’t think the AEs used leg armor. Not much point when one is fighting from a chariot, no?

    • Roxana

      I also quite like Nefertari’s headress, the shape is right and gold sequins were used decoratively on headresses like the blue war helmet. The earrings are good too and the collar.
      Nefertari btw succeeded in giving Ramesses several sons, as did her fellow Great Wife Iset-Nofret and a large number of other women. By some counts Ramesses had close to a hundred sons, and almost as many daughters. He seems to have been a proud and conscientious father. He had his children represented in long rows of carved likenesses on his monuments and built a huge tomb for his sons, KV5. Daughters were apparently buried, like his wives, in the Valley of the Queen’s.

    • Roxana

      Fair enough. It is pretty. And Peter O’Toole wipes the rest of the case off the screen in every scene he appears in.

  9. Roxana

    Christian Bale as Moses finding God? As I recall Exodus it was more like God finding Moses and pinning him to the wall. Moses was a very reluctant prophet.

  10. Faye

    Some of it looks correct, but other parts of the costumes look so wrong it’s painful to me as an Egyptologist!

    For example, Sigourney Weaver’s beaded collar looks great. But then they’ve put some kind of weird, embroidered sheer fabric top and bottom. What the heck is that? It’s certainly nothing the ancient Egyptians ever wore. Her crown, tiara, whatever thing, looks more Mesopotamian than Egyptian too. Her dress looks too modern as well. It’s close fitting, which might be alright for the Old Kingdom, but in the New Kingdom a looser, flowing style was favoured. Also even if we say her character is like, ultra traditional or something, the neckline is wrong for an Old Kingdom sheath dress – it was very plunging, with the ‘straps’ covering the breast and the main neckline ending below the cleavage. I saw in the video that she’s even wearing a peacock feather headdress at one point! No no no no no! Wrong!

    Varma’s high priestess is all kinds of wrong. Yes, the hair emulates Nefertiti, but that should be an actual crown/headdress, not hair. And then they’ve put all these gold sparklies in it and just ugh no. Her own collar, with just rectangles of some gold coloured stuff, are not something the Egyptians wore either. It looks more like a modern “costume piece” than anything else.

    Nefertari’s headdress is interesting. Right shape, although it’s not clear that it was made of metal disks. Not impossible though. Can’t really see her clothes properly but her collar looks correct (i.e. absent any fabric panels), and she seems to be wearing a flowing linen dress just as the real Nefertari was depicted.

    It’s clear that Ramesses’ costume was more inspired by the art of Angus McBride than ancient Egypt. There would have been less gold and more blue and green, either in enamel work or as lapis lazuli and turquoise. The gold greaves he wears make me wince! Like someone has slapped a Spartan’s greaves on poor old Ramesses. Incidentally, the dark purple attired extra in the shot of Ramesses and his mother is wearing an excellent example of the Old Kingdom sheath dress where the neckline ends below the bust – pity they couldn’t have put Sigourney in that. Oh, but her hair is wrong – too “Jasmine” as another commenter observed.

    Bale’s been given greaves too, by the looks of it. I’m not sure what’s up with his sheet metal collar either instead of beads. I like the pleated robes both he and Ramesses wear when they’re not at war, but Moses’ battle wear is too thick and heavy. The Egyptians didn’t have a whole lot of armour, the hot climate being a factor, and that one shot shows him with a full lamellar tunic AND some kind of leather thing on top? Nope.

    As for Troy… the Trojans’ armour is clearly inspired by that of the historical Hittites, which, since they were contemporary neighbours, I guess gets a pass. But they’ve put flipping greaves on it again, which the Hittites did not do. Helen is definitely wearing more of an Indian sari than contemporary Mycenaean or even Minoan attire, so that’s a nope. The crowns that she and Andromache wear, with those beautiful leaves and tiny flowers, are actually inspired by much later Greek crowns circa 300 BCE, almost a thousand years later than the period in which the Trojan war is supposed to be set.

    • Roxana

      Sigourney’s costume is just awful from the authenticity pov, and I’m not thrilled from the aesthetic either. I thought there should be more color in Ramesses’armor too but wasn’t sure, thanks for the confirmation. And the lovely golden wreaths worn by the ladies in Troy did look very Hellenic era to me.

    • Joanne Renaud

      Thank you so much for all the amazing info! I’m very curious to hear what you think of the big-budget spectacle “The Egyptian,” with Jean Simmons, Gene Tierney and Michael Wilding. It got a good write-up in the old costume design book “Hollywood and History,” which is all I know. What do you think?

      (The good news is, that “The Egyptian” is not about Exodus at all, so thank God for that.)

      • Roxana

        Is that the movie with a scene set in an embalmer’s shop full of mummies Tobe pickling in huge tanks of natron solution?
        Judging from the stills the costume are a disaster, but the sets include a lot of copies of genuine Egyptian artifacts; a lamp from Tut’s tomb, a chair belonging to Sitamun, etc.

      • Teresa

        All I remember of the costumes from that one were clunky wig covers (once again, cheesy costumes that looked like costumes, not real clothing). “The Egyptian” is lousy history, whether you’re looking at the movie or reading the novel–a piece of melodramatic, sensationalist (and misogynist) trash. I admit reading the book, but I was an undergrad at the time and more apt to finish books I didn’t enjoy. Then I tried another of Waltari’s books, and guess what–another scheming seductress targets the virtuous hero. That’s when the book went back to the library!
        Incidentally, that character in the Egyptian, Nefernefernefer (I think) was based on a supernatural character from a real Egyptian story, the “first tale of Setna.” The story we have dates to the Graeco-Roman period and recounts the magical adventures of Prince Kha’emwast, the fourth son of Ramesses II, who lived a millennium earlier. You can read it in Miriam Lichtheim’s excellent anthology of Egyptian literature.
        Back to the movie, the characters at the end are wearing ankhs (familiar hieroglyph for “life”) and referring to them as crosses; they are supposed to emblematic of Akhenaten’s heresy. They are no such thing, of course, and real Egyptians would more likely be wearing the ujdat-eye (eye of Horus, “healthy” eye) as an amulet.
        And finally, poor Horemheb! One of the most interesting kings in Egyptian history, and he ends up associated in the public mind with the over-acting of Victor Mature!

        • Joanne Renaud

          Ok, that’s great to know. Thanks so much for the feedback!

          BTW, are there any movies set in ancient Egypt where the costumes are GOOD?

          • Teresa

            Well, there aren’t many movies set in ancient Egypt to begin with (a good thing, in my opinion). No, I can’t think of any–producers always seem to want shiny, colorful, and “glamorous.” Look at Elizabeth Taylor’s gowns in “Cleopatra”–they don’t look Egyptian OR Greek.
            There’s a perception of Egypt as being a land of luxury, decadence, tyranny, and exoticism. Where are the men hoping to train for a scribal career (they won’t be eligible for corvee), the parents worried about misbehaving children, the woman fretting because she’s got “nothing at all” to wear for the upcoming festival (what she actually said was, “I’m absolutely naked!”)? Where are the stomach aches and the dental disasters? Ramesses II could tell you about the latter.
            Even recent documentaries get really basic stuff wrong. I haven’t seen much of them; this is where not having cable is a good thing. (When I was teaching, I would have felt an obligation to watch them otherwise.) But I have seen some clips with nemes headdresses on commoners and more of that colorful clothing. And there was a sequence in an episode about Hatshepsut (Discovery Channel, I think, in 2007), in which the actress playing Hatshepsut walks out a door and looks up at a statue–of Ramesses II!
            The only Discovery Channel disaster I’ve seen was the one featuring Joanne Fletcher, about the alleged identification of Nefertiti’s mummy. This was during a meeting of the local chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), an organization that lay people can join (check them out at (Note to Kendra: I find Fletcher to be incredibly annoying and can’t understand why she’s on television so much when there are plenty of Egyptologists with better credentials and superior presentation skills. At least get a haircut, Joanne!) Anyway, the documentary was boring and repetitive, and the highlight of the whole thing was the appearance of the “High Priest of Amun” in an enormous wig that stuck out at least a foot from his head on each side: a wig that no Egyptian would have worn, certainly not the High Priest, who would have had a shaven head. Then my professor’s voice from the back of the room: “Who…does…your…hair?”

  11. cassandra

    Exodus has Miriam being Moses nanny? The Biblical account identifies Miriam as Moses’ older sister, and Moses’ nursemaid as his mother. Miriam’s role was just to wait in the bushes until someone found him, and jump out all like “hey, i see you found a baby there! My mom just so happens to be a nursemaid, should you need one.”
    And if the account is to be believed, then likely Pharoe’s daughter would have known what was up, and been cool with it. As an an ancient Egyptian, she Would have believed that her chances of getting into the afterlife when she died were based on her heart being lighter than Anubis’ feather, which was achieved by the good deeds you did being more numerous (and more noteworthy) than the bad ones. So ancient Egyptians frequently performed good deeds seemingly just for the hell of it. There is one ancient account (non-Biblical, but i don’t remember which one, at the moment), that describes an Egyptian woman adopting her slaves, so that they could be her legal heirs. Not to mention that there must have been Egyptians who Felt morally opposed to the decree to kill Hebrew children, so they likely did what they could to help (secretly, of course). I haven’t watched Exodus yet, so maybe they portray her as knowing exactly who Miriam is, but so many movies show Moses‘ adoptive mother as having no idea that her (always hairy and bearded) son could possibly be Hebrew.
    Also, all if these people should be middle eastern/north african or greek/mediterranean, not white.

    • Cassandra

      Small correction to my own comment: this would have been well before Alexander the Great and the Ptolemaic Dynasty, so there wouldn’t have been any Greeks in the royal family. They definitely would have been North African, though.

  12. kproche

    My favorite old cheesy big-spectacle “Egyptian” film is the 1955 Land of the Pharaohs, complete with Joan Collins as a scheming princess and the big seal-the-tomb-with-sand-driven-clockwork finale. I loved the callback to that finale in the Brendan Fraser Mummy film.

  13. saffireblu

    Oohh, I struggled with both these movies…
    I fell in love with ancient mythology as a child (even though I was probably too young to appreciate some of the context), & dreamed of being an Egyptologist/ archaeologist when I was younger; I read every book & on Ancient Egypt & mythology, & later bought every book I could on them – I watched every ‘historical epic’ that came my way- even crappy ones; the older ‘Helen of Troy’ movies (the old Rosanna Podesta one, & that one with Rufus Sewell as Agamemnon & a brunette Emilia Fox, as Cassandra) the super-cheesy ‘Land of the Pharaohs’ – ‘Colossus of Rhodes’ – ‘The Egyptian’ – ‘Serpent of the Nile’… don’t @ me, my viewing standards were super-low back then!

    I think the most historically accurate part of Troy’s costumes was probably the Spartan dancers, with their ‘Minoan-look’ dresses (like- that is the era of the Trojan War- would it kill you to go for that?**) – maybe some individual items of male armour, but pretty much nothing else- I mean they had an Egyptian-looking temple/ tomb-thing in Trojan lands, for pete’s sake!! Why??!!!

    I didn’t hate ‘Exodus’, but it felt like I wasn’t destined to remember it, a day after watching.
    I had the same problem with ‘TUT’- only worse- like, some of the costumes were cool, from an aesthetic point of view, but in terms of accuracy? What makes it so much worse – we have so many freaking artefacts from his tomb, & the era (18th Dynasty) in general; why, why , why can’t they just look at the stuff, & go from there- why make up some garbage, fantasy crap for a supposedly historical movie?
    If I wanted that, I’d get hammered & watch ‘Gods of Egypt’!
    I mean, ‘The Mummy’ for all its’ faults was a fun watch, & blended history & fantasy so well- I didn’t even really mind the absurd amount of gold shown.

    **I had a book at my school library, on the Iliad/ The Odyssey, I think it was published by Usborne, back in the late ’80’s or early ’90’s – it was so beautifully illustrated, with Minoan-style costumes- there was variety & difference, & comparisons between the artwork of the illustrator, with the historical evidence.
    I think there was a docu-drama done by the BBC back a ways, about Atlantis that had Minoan-inspired costumes, but I only saw a couple of screen-shots of it – I can’t imagine how much better a big-budget movie with this styling would have been.

    • MelZ

      100% agree! The dancing girls in Sparta were probably the most historically accurate costumes in the whole movie- & maybe some of the armour…

      Why did the Egyptian clothes in ‘Exodus’ have to be so colourful? There are historically very few references/ examples of them dyeing it- the big one was their pale blue mourning dresses – why couldn’t they have just shown more of a contrast to the resident Hebrews, the Bedouin-like people Moses lives with, & other foreign visitors to the royal court? I think that would have come off better.
      And I’m just curious- why did they think they had to design the costumes ‘from scratch’?
      The 18th Dynasty/ New Kingdom was one of the most well documented periods of Egyptian history- every book I’ve ever read on Ancient Egypt has pictures of tons of artefacts from the 18th Dynasty…

  14. Teresa

    And there are so many paintings from the Eighteenth Dynasty and the Ramesside Period showing clothing! Maybe it’s too “plain” for Hollywood? I’m sure Hollywood does not like all that white and off-white; it’s not shiny and “glamorous” enough. Tunics and sheath dresses for women of the earlier Eighteenth Dynasty, then those sheer robes and the sari-lilke wrap dresses later on. Tunics and kilts of various lengths and degrees of elaboration for the men. At court, elaborate wigs of various styles for both sexes. Kohl for the eyes, for anyone who could afford it. For the wealthy, jewelry of gold with semi-precious stones (turquoise, carnelian, lapis). Occasional silver jewelry–Egypt did not have a lot of silver, certainly not enough to have the walls of beaten silver that are one of novelist Pauline Gedge’s most egregious errors. Papyrus sandals. Headcloths on people doing dusty farm work such as winnowing–if such people are ever even considered by producers or costume designers. See? Was that so hard?