Are you fascinated by the mysteries of Ancient Egypt? You’re not alone. Millions are fascinated by the period. And, as a result, Hollywood has made numerous films about the era, transporting movie fans back in time to the land of pharaohs, pyramids, and hieroglyphics.
From epic adventures to historical dramas, the following nine films offer a captivating glimpse into the rich tapestry of Ancient Egyptian civilization. Whether you’re a history buff or simply intrigued by this ancient culture, these movies are a must-watch for anyone obsessed with Ancient Egypt.
So grab some popcorn and get ready to embark on a cinematic journey through the sands of time.
Death on the Nile (1978/2022)
Based on Agatha Christie’s book of the same name, Death on the Nile was adapted twice on the big screen. The 1978 version stars Mia Farrow, Bette Davis, Peter Ustinov, Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin, David Niven, Olivia Hussey, Jack Warden, Simon MacCorkindale, and Lois Chiles as its ensemble cast. The 2022 version stars Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Annette Bening, Emma Mackey, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Rose Leslie, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, and Kenneth Branagh.
Ustinov and Branagh played the famed Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot in the two films. The story takes place in Egypt in 1937 aboard a paddle steamer sailing down the Nile River. Wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway is murdered in her cabin and everyone is a suspect. It’s up to Poirot to catch the killer before they strike again.
The 1978 film definitely shows the sights of Egypt with scenes filmed at the pyramids, the Sphinx, and near the temples of Abu Simbel and Karnak.
Arguably one of Elizabeth Taylor’s most famous roles, Cleopatra is all about the famous Egyptian queen who seduces the Roman general Julius Caesar. Cleopatra would later seduce Mark Antony to save her kingdom. The film was also the most expensive for 20th Century Fox at the time. And the budget nearly sent the studio into bankruptcy. This was all due to the lavish sets built to depict ancient Egypt at the time of the queen’s reign, as well as the extensive traveling from Italy to Spain and Egypt.
The film also stars Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, Pamela Brown, George Cole, Hume Cronyn, Cesare Danova, Kenneth Haigh, and Roddy McDowall.
Cleopatra was also known to be full of controversy both on and off-screen. The movie was when Taylor and Burton began their love affair. The Egyptian government at the time also apparently banned Taylor from entering the country because she was of Jewish descent. They would ultimately change their minds when they realized the film would bring billions into their economy.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
The James Bond film starring Roger Moore is the 10th Bond film produced by Eon Productions. The title is based on Ian Fleming’s 1962 novel of the same name. However, no elements of its plot were used in the film. Some scenes of The Spy Who Loved Me were filmed in Egypt and include the sights of Karnak Temple in Luxor. This isn’t the only Bond film to have scenes depicting Egypt.
Moore’s predecessor Sean Connery’s iteration of the spy was seen in Egypt in Diamonds Are Forever. However, the supposed scenes where Bond is in Cairo were only filmed in a studio and not on location.
The Spy Who Loved Me also stars Barbara Bach, Curt Jurgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Geoffrey Keen, Edward de Souza, George Baker, Lois Maxwell, Vernon Dobtcheff, Desmond Llewelyn, and Bernard Lee.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
One of the most religious epics in the history of Hollywood, the movie is partly based on the Book of Exodus and the Prince of Egypt. The Ten Commandments follows the story of Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince who discovers his true heritage. He denounces the Pharaoh and starts his mission to free the enslaved Hebrews.
This is another film that was shot on location in Egypt, including Mount Sinai and the Sinai Peninsula.
The Ten Commandments stars Charlton Heston, Yul Brynne, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne de Carlo, Debra Paget, and John Derek.
Cairo Time (2009)
The romantic drama follows two people who unexpectedly fall in love. The woman, Juliette, travels to Egypt to meet her husband. She falls in love with her husband’s friend Tareq, who accompanies her around Cairo. The film is shot on location, giving audiences a glance at the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, and even the Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo.
Cairo Time stars Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Elena Anaya, Tom McCamus, and Amina Annabi.
The Mummy (1999)
One of Brendan Fraser’s most famous roles, the 1999 The Mummy is also one of the most popular ones. The story follows the legend of the creature, Imhotep, who is resurrected from the dead. It’s up to Rick O’Connell and company to stop him.
The film shows a little bit of ancient Egypt, including the Great Pyramids, and the Sphinx. The film, which is set in the 1920s, was mostly filmed in Morocco.
The Mummy also stars Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin O’Connor, Jonathan Hyde, and Oded Fehr among an ensemble cast.
The Mummy Returns (2001)
Following the success of the first film, came the second. In The Mummy Returns, Rick, Evie, and the gang are going up against a new creature: The Scorpion King. To make things worse, a woman, who is Anck Su-Namun reincarnate, resurrects Imhotep to defeat the Scorpion King.
The film stars Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Oded Fehr, Arnold Vosloo, Dwayne Johnson, Patricia Velasquez, Freddie Boath, and Alun Armstrong.
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Another story similar to The Ten Commandments, the animated Prince of Egypt is another film to watch. The film is another iteration of the story of Moses and is also known for its music and its cast.
The Prince of Egypt stars Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, and Martin Short. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey also sang two versions of the movie’s famous song, “When You Believe.”
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
It wouldn’t be a list depicting ancient Egyptian movies without including this Indiana Jones movie. It’s possibly the most famous Hollywood action film to be set in Egypt. It also marks the titular adventurer’s first escapade on the big screen. The archaeology professor-turned-adventurer Indiana Jones finds the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis get their hands on it.
Joining Indy are his ex Marion and his Egyptian friend Salah, as they try to get to the relic first.
The film stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott and is a wonderful film regardless of your love of ancient Egypt.
If your fascination with ancient Egypt has you craving more knowledge and adventure, these nine movies will satisfy your appetite, at least momentarily. From iconic classics to hidden gems, each film offers a unique and immersive experience of the wonders of this ancient civilization.
So, embrace the magic and mystery of ancient Egypt from the comfort of your own home. And let these cinematic journeys transport you to a world lost in time. Happy watching! (And watch for future coverage of our geek-out-worthy trip to Egypt earlier this year!)