I will be honest, my favourite movie is The Mummy. I will also be honest, this movie may be my favourite because of the positive associations I have with it, including watching it all day for 2 days straight with my wonderful sister while we were home sick from school. Taped on VHS, we fervently rewinded the tape and covered the screen so that we did not spoil any of the “great moments”. But despite its overly family/comical social vibe, I still wonder today why that movie compelled us enough to watch it for 2 days straight. What possibly could our psyche’s needed from The Mummy in those sickly days?
A great way to dive into the symbolic significance of any fiction is to interpret the work as a projection of a single individual’s psyche, so that is what I will do here.
The story begins with Rick and Benny fighting a battle for the land of Hammunaptra, a land guarded by the Mejai for thousands of years. Rick is abandoned by Benny who hides within the tomb of Imhotep, the Mummy to come. Luckily Rick’s life is saved by the very curse which he will later defeat. This is a common archetypal trope, for the protagonist to be saved by the very thing which they will later have to defeat. This represents the commonplace scenario where a person is saved by a certain passion or addiction or purpose, but later falls prey to its grips when they ought to let that passion go. For instance, the reliance of child on their parents, they are so frequently saved by their caregivers, but a time will come to let them go and make their own way in the world.
Evelynn the Archeologist bails out Rick from prison and pursues the lost city of the dead, Hammunaptra. Where Rick and Eve compete with another crew of Americans to discover what lies beneath the sands. This is a classic story of adventure, a pursuit fueled by curiosity. We all go on this adventure in our own lives, especially when we are young and curious. An interesting component of this quest is that Evelynn knows that there is a curse of the mummy, but chooses to disregard it. We often pursue evil in ourselves, but choose to disregard the forewarnings that we may find that very evil which we search for.
Evelyn and Rick find the book of the dead, and the awake Imhotep, the mummy who possesses the power to conquer the world. This power of malevolence, with the sole purpose of power and domination, represents the malevolence and resentment within us all. This drive is powerful and can rule over us if we do not let it. We often fall prey to the temptation which anger provides within us, and The Mummy is the pattern which we all must go through in order to confront and defeat malevolence.
Evelyn and Rick must pursue the awakened monster and find the book of the living to send the monster back to its grave. Don’t we all go through this very process when we discover a fault within ourselves? We search desperately for the means to correct the fault which we did not know was there, and in the pursuit fall prey to that very malevolence. When we seek self-improvement, we risk self-degradation. When we pay attention to our faults, we risk feeling worse than if we had no knowledge of those faults.
Our story concludes with the protagonists conquering the monster, sending it back to the grave, and uniting in a loving partnership. The successful hero story, the story of ourselves finding evil, conquering it, and thus growing stronger as a result. This story is a narrative which we must all live our over and over if we are to succeed and live a fulfilled life. The Mummy is the story of self-critique, of triumph and courage, and of love. Elements which we always could do with a little more of.
Hustle it up!