Egypt on Film: Five Classic Movies Set in the North African Country

Egypt has always held a certain allure for film-makers, especially those looking themes of historical, mythological or religious significance. It’s easy to understand why, as the country’s history acts as a marker for many different ages. As far back as 1899, film-makers were making the earliest movies about Egypt, and there are 100s to choose from today.

But which are the best? That’s always going to be subjective. But we have picked out five classics below that offer a nice cross-section of Egypt on film. From classics of the Golden Age of Hollywood to modern Egyptian cinema, these five stood out to us:

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Although Indiana Jones travels all over the world in his first cinematic outing, the majority of the action takes place in Egypt (the desert locations were actually shot in Tunisia). The movie needs no explanation, of course, as it is a masterpiece of cinema that launched one of the biggest franchises in history. The action is non-stop, the villains are cartoonishly evil, and Indy is both cool and ridiculous at the same time. You know there is going to be a happy ending, but that’s not the point. Movies like this are the reason popcorn was invented.

IMDB Rating 8.4/10

Cleopatra (1963)

There are many ways to experience the magic of the ancients, including a world of pharaohs and pyramids at Egypt slots from, but there is arguably no better way to go back in time than with this classic starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton. The story of Cleopatra is a compelling and complex one. And, you’re really in for the long haul here because the official run time of the film is 5 hours and 20 minutes. But it is brilliant, and the quadruple-Oscar winner was way ahead of its time in terms of set design and production.

IMDB Rating: 7/10

The Mummy (1999)

We could have chosen any from several brilliant “Mummy” movies, including Boris Karloff’s classic 1932 horror, The Mummy. However, this fun and delightfully silly action thriller from Stephen Sommers is a modern-day classic. Sure, there are shades of Indiana Jones in it, but Brendan Fraser and the rest of the cast do enough to put their own stamp on things. The film is probably not to everyone’s taste, but it did rake in over $400 million at the global box-office.

IMDB Rating: 7/10

Asmaa (2011)

A complete gear change here as we move to a tale of suffering from HIV/AIDS in modern Egypt. Asmaa, which stars Hend Sabry in the title role as a woman coming to terms with the disease against a less than sympathetic society, is a superb film. Based on a true story of a woman who has “Aids, but Aids does not have her”, it demonstrates the plight of fighting a disease when surrounded by prejudice and ignorance. While not your typical popcorn movie, there are plenty of twists and turns in this complex film directed by Amr Salama.

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10

The Ten Commandments (1956)

As with several movies on this list, there have been several versions of The Ten Commandments. But the definitive – and best – version is the 1950’s Charlton Heston vehicle. Alongside Heston, who plays the lead role of Moses, an all-star cast includes Yul Brenner (Rameses), Anne Baxter (Nefreteri) and even Vincent Price in a small role as Baka. The film, directed by Cecil B. DeMille is one of the best examples of Hollywood’s Golden Age; an epic tale that has surprisingly aged well.

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10