Glint of gold

It's state fair time again, and parents all over the metroplex are bracing themselves for the yearly ritual of corny dogs, endless carnival rides, and hours of lining up in the sun. Sounds like a recipe for exhaustion and acute nausea, doesn't it?

Well, this year the Science Place is giving weary parents and their kids a break by timing its new IMAX feature, Mysteries of Egypt, with the opening of the fair on Friday.

This detective story of tombs, treasures, and the curse of King Tut's grave is captivating enough to keep the kids in awe and firmly planted in their seats for a full hour. For mom and dad--lured in by air conditioning and comfortable seats--the aerial shots of the pyramids and sweeping takes of waterfalls at the source of the Nile are breathtaking.

Mysteries of Egypt contains the National Geographic Society's trademark photography. The camera sweeps over the desert dunes and dips in and out of the intricately carved ravines of the maze-like Valley of the Kings. As the images roll over the 79-foot screen, you grab your armrests and hold your breath as the movement and the sounds surround you.

Starring in the production in a graying and grandfatherly role is Omar Sharif, a real live Egyptian. The story revolves around the tale Sharif's character tells his visiting granddaughter about the legends surrounding the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter, a British explorer. The belief in the curse of King Tut was rekindled when, on the day the tomb's entrance was bared, a cobra--the symbol of ancient Egyptian royalty--entered Carter's house and destroyed the canary he'd brought to the site for good luck. The death of the "Golden Bird," as the workers called it, was seen as a bad omen. When Lord Carnarvon, the patron of the expedition, died amidst strange circumstances five months after the opening of the burial chambers, suspicions seemed to be confirmed.

Woven into this story are real photographs of Carter and his crew, as well as excerpts from their diaries. The following passage from Carter's diary reveals some of the excitement surrounding the discovery:

"I inserted the candle and peered in, Lord Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn, and Callender standing anxiously beside me to hear the verdict. At first, I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold--everywhere the glint of gold..."

The discovery of the boy-king Tutankhamen's untouched burial site generated tremendous interest in the history of Egypt. The Science Place brings a piece of it to Dallas, and for the price of a movie ticket, it's a bargain.

--Juliana Barbassa

Mysteries of Egypt will open on September 25 at the Science Place, at the Southwest Museum of Science & Technology, Fair Park, and run until September 23, 1999. Tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for children. For show times, call (214) 428-5555.


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