Unknown: The Lost Pyramid (2023) Movie Review – Uncovering Egypt’s secrets

Uncovering Egypt’s secrets

Breathtaking pyramids of tranquility backdropped by the bustling city of Cairo; welcome to Egypt, a fascinating country of divides. There have been many discoveries over the years here, from an ancient civilization that has shaped and defined our very history and understanding of the world. Egyptians were miles ahead of their time in both architecture and artistic beauty. But yet, only 30% of those treasures have been discovered. 70% is still hidden beneath the sand.

Step forward Netflix’s documentary film crew, who serve as a fly on the wall as we jet across to Egypt and to the sands of Saqqara. There, the focus is split between famous Egyptologists, Dr. Zahi Hawass and his protégé and rival, Dr. Mostafa Waziri. Both have their own teams with a focus set squarely on uncovering the biggest discovery in Saqqara, the City of the Dead.

While Waziri heads off on a site in Bubasteion, Hawass focuses squarely on discovering the missing pyramid of a potential king called Huni. Mentioned in history books and with a potential head of a state that could belong to him, Hawass is determined to shake the very foundation of Egyptology with a massive discovery – and make sure his name is front and center. Despite their rivalry, the pair have a good relationship. Throughout the film, the pair meet up and trade banter, adding a healthy air of comradery to the mix.

The film does a great job getting up close and personal to the action, with the claustrophobic interior of tombs shown in their raw form. Beads of sweat collect on the excavator’s foreheads, the work is slow and methodical, while the various discoveries are handled with care, using a variety of brushes and other tools to make sure everything stays as preserved as possible.

Even lifting these items out of the tombs and into museums is a huge undertaking, with winches and lifts needing to be moved very carefully to avoid anything breaking. And at times, it can actually be rather tense watching this.

There have been a number of discoveries in recent years throughout the region and anyone intrigued by this film should absolutely check out the recent news of a history-defining tomb discovery and more archeological discoveries as recently as a few months ago. These are exciting developments but pictures can’t really do justice to the awe-inspiring beauty of Egypt until you see it firsthand. Staring up at The Great Pyramid, unable to see the top and shocked by the sheer size of each individual rock is something that will stick with anyone else who has seen this first-hand.

At times, Unknown: The Lost Pyramid loses this majestic allure with an overly stylized aesthetic that really doubles down on music. The opening intro for the show is particularly egregious, with ghostly voices and a huge spoiler regarding a later discovery in the film, which is disappointing. One can’t help but feel the film would have worked so much better had this just been removed completely.

However, the format of switching between two different archeological groups means there’s always something to see, while the various diagrams, time-lapses and animated schematics over the different sites, helps to give a feel for the scale and size of the digs. This an endearing and engrossing watch, and perfect for anyone intrigued by the secrets and history of Egypt.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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