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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #2
March 28, 2007

Walk Like An Egyptian

Raiders of the Lost Ark + Antiquities Collection at a Museum

Screening Raiders of the Lost Ark is a hand-clutching thrill that turns ancient civilization into modern fun. Although we can no longer remember whose hand we grasped twenty years ago when Harrison Ford blazed into the American consciousness on the big screen, it was fun to have our kids cling to us with excited squeals as we followed the rip-roaring exploits of Indiana Jones, our still-favorite archeologist, as he spans the continent with angry Nazis in pursuit. We squirmed as snakes slithered and held our breath during chase scenes as Indy tries to recover the Ark of the Covenant, rumored to contain the Ten Commandments. Suddenly, archeology seemed like a pretty cool pursuit.

A dusty artifact is compelling in Steven Spielberg's hands, but we worried that our kids would find ancient artifacts at a museum less than riveting. We checked out an exhibit of Egyptian antiquities that contained over fifteen real mummies, and were happy to discover how many of the relics in the show intrigued our kids. We challenged our kids to think like archeologists, and unearth a favorite artifact in the exhibit. Our older girls were drawn to statues of Gods in the shapes of birds and dogs, so we asked them to try to chat up the docents and report back with a little history. Our boys were attracted to more practical items, like bowls, weapons and boats. When we tried to decipher hieroglyphics on tombstones, one of our budding Egyptologists wondered whether Indy could have translated the ancient symbols. It was then we knew that Indy had left his mark on the next generation of viewers.

 
Film Title: Raiders of The Lost Ark
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
1981, Rated PG, 115 minutes


Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this film:

  • Why This Film is Worth It: This film feels like a roller coaster ride; the pure velocity of action will keep you pinned to your seat. Along with this action comes scary snakes, Nazi chase scenes, lots of zinging bullets... and did we mention snakes? As grown-ups, we loved watching Spielberg at his gleeful best, and suggest a Family Movie Night for this title. Invite a crowd, and scream en masse!
  • Red Flags: Our best advice is to screen this one with brave kids over 8. It's a clean, old-fashioned tale that is high on action. The good news is that there isn't any sex, nor much profanity... whereas the sequels are slightly more racy, and contain more violence. Also, Indy's love interest, played by Karen Allen, drinks men under the table, slugging shot after shot. This is a good opportunity to talk to your kids about alcohol.
  • IMAX goes to Egypt: A new IMAX film called Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs has just been released. Click here for more information, including when the film is coming to an IMAX theater near you.
  • Younger Kids: Watch The Prince of Egypt. It's less action packed, but gives a good glimpse of life in ancient Egypt.

Our tips for talking to your kids about this film:
  • Cinema Savvy: George Lucas gave Spielberg the idea for this film, and their collaboration continued on the two Indiana Jones sequels. Both men were huge fans of the old "B" movies and the inter-continental hero who spans the globe and gets the girl. The origin of these early films were serialized, pulp magazines.  Ask your kids if they think the story or the characters are meant to be real, and what they think the word "cliffhanger" means.
  • Antiquities Savvy: Ancient treasures can be taken from the ground in both legal and illegal ways. Museums and private collectors don't always know the true provenance of an item, creating an ethical dilemma if a question of origin arises. Ask your kids what they think should happen if such an mistake is discovered: should the object wind up with the collector or the country of its origin?


 

Discover Ancient Relics at your Local Museum

Time Allotment: 2-3 hours
Age Recommendation: 7 and up


Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Popcorn Adventure:

  • What Worked for Us: Find mummies! Most kids think they are pretty cool; part gruesome and part educational. Mummification provides a visceral way to learn about the Egyptians' beliefs about death and the after life.
  • Before You Go: Generation after generation is fascinated with the story of King Tut, either because his golden funereal mask is etched in our minds, or because everyone loves a good mummy mystery. Even with 21st technology, archeologists are still stymied by Tut's untimely death. Visit National Geographic's web site and your kids can learn how scientists used state-of-the art technology to help solve some of the mysteries surrounding the boy king's mysterious death. The clues supporting each theory of King Tut's death are found in the "High Tech Forensics" section; however, there are still elements of the mystery which remain unsolved. Let the kids weigh in on what they think happened 3,000 years ago.
  • Take Home: Museum gift shops usually have a comprehensive collection on ancient civilization topics that are nice additions to your home library -- hieroglyphics are always a draw for kids. Often, these books are great companions to their school texts. Most items also available on museum websites, and we have some in our KOTC store at Amazon.com.
  • COOL FACT: Ever wonder why the noses on old statues are broken? Subsequent kings dinged their predecessor's likeness as a gesture of disrespect. Maybe that's where the expression "thumbing your nose" comes from.

Our City Editors' tips for enjoying this Popcorn Adventure all around the USA:

  • Anywhere: Google your city + museum, and add the word mummy, mummies, antiquities, Egypt, or Egyptian. Mummies and ancient relics can be found in history, science or art museums. 
  • Boston: Be the hero in your own adventure. Check out TOMB, as presented by 5WITS.  This 45-minute tour takes groups through an interactive archaeological adventure deep into a remake of a 3000-year-old tomb. Kids under 7 may find special effects too loud. Located on Brookline Ave. across from the Fenway T-stop.
  • Houston: The permanent exhibit "Searching for Eternity: Life and Death in Ancient Egypt" at the Houston Museum of Natural Science features the mummy and coffin of Ankh-hap and hundreds of ancient artifacts. The exhibit has moved to the lower level in Fondren Discovery Place.
  • New York:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art's “Think Sphinx” family guide (at the information desk) gives kids a clever treasure hunt through the Egyptian galleries.  Don't miss the 11 foot Sphinx of Hatshepsut, the longest reigning female head of state, or the soothing Temple of Dendur. For  easy museum parking, enter the lot on Fifth Avenue.
  • San Francisco: Visit both the Ancient Art Collection at the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and the Out of Americas Collection at the de Young museum for the price of one.  Refuel at the cafe of either museum.
  • Washington, D.C.: The Museum of Natural History's Western Culture exhibit has several mummies on display as well as many other interesting ancient relics.

 
Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.



Want to see more great films about Egypt and relic hunting? Click here to visit the Kids Off The Couch store at Amazon.com.

Want to do some further reading?  Click here to visit the Kids Off the Couch store at Amazon.com.