Nefertiti, regina del Nilo (Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile) (1961) 

 

 

 

Director:  Fernando Cerchio. 

Starring:  Jeanne Crain (Nefertiti),  Vincent Price (Benakon),  Edmund Purdom (Tumos, Sculptor),  Amedeo Nazzari (Amenophis IV),  Liana Orfei (Merith),  Raf Baldassarre (Mareb),  Carlo D'Angelo (Seper),  Alberto Farnese (Dakim),  Celia Matania (wetnurse). 

Queen Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaaten1 (reigned 1352- 1334 BC) of the 18th Dynasty

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Egypt would be ruled by a great Queen.  The night began in Thebes along the River Nile.  Two lovers planned to meet  -- a meeting that would affect their destiny and the destiny of Egypt. 

The beautiful Tanit says she is not sleepy.  Her matron asks he what would happen if the High Priest learned of her night-time wanderings. Tanit says she issick of the constrictions on her life.  She wants to be free like any other girl.  Her matron tells her to please be careful for she is not like any other girl.  She leaves the palace and walks down to the river bank of the Nile.  There she unites with Tumos.  They kiss.  He has a boat and they will flee Egypt in order to be free.  If they are caught, Tumos will be killed.  Guards arrive and grab the couple. Tumos breaks free and runs away.  The guards pursue him, but Tumos jumps into the Nile.  The guards figure that he will be eaten by crocodiles. 

Nefertiti is brought to the High Priest.  He spares her, but the sentence for the crime of Tumos will be death. 

Tumos works on a piece of sculpture.  He sculpts Prince Amenophis.  His boss says that because he knows the Prince so well, Tumos may have portrayed him too accurately.  He tells Tumos that he would like to speak to him.  He has noticed a wound on his left arm.  He figures this is a matter of love and asks who she is.  Tumos says he only knows she's called Tanit and is being groomed for the temple.  The boss says that such a woman is controlled by forces far too powerful for Tumos.  Tumos objects:  "But I love her and she loves me."    The boss then says that if he is going to oppose the High Priest, he better get help from his old friend Prince Amenophis.  But the Prince is leading the army in the desert against the Codeans.  The boss emphasizes that Tumos's life is in danger.  He must go. 

Tumos prepares to ride.  A woman who seems to be infatuated with him, named Merith, begs him to let her come along.  He refuses.  He better hurry because the men commanded by the High Priest have come to arrest him.  They search the house, but Tumos is already gone. 

A priest of the new religion worshiping Aten comes to a work site to plea for more lenient treatment of the work slaves.  The soldiers do not believe in just one God.  They prefer their many gods.  The foreman is just about to kill the priest, when Tumos arrives and throws a knife that hits the foreman's arm.  Tumos prepares to fight the soldier, but the Prince stops it.  He is very glad to see Tumos and wants to know why has he come to the desert.  Tumos tells him that he has fallen in love with a young woman named Tanit.  He would like to marry her, but she is under the protection of the High Priest.  He asks the Prince to intercede with his father the Pharaoh.  The Prince says that his father is old and sick and all the Prince's correspondence goes through the High Priest, Benakon. Tumos urges the Prince to act immediately for Benakon has already sentenced him to death.  The Prince tells Tumos that he is very tired, so the matter must wait for tomorrow morning. 

Tanit cannot sleep once again.  She is worried about Tumos because there are reports of many sand storms in the desert.  Tumos can't sleep either.  In the middle of the night he gets up and walks around. The Prince thinks he is an intruder and almost stabs him to death.  Amenophis complains that every night all he has are bad dreams.  (Today we would say he seems to suffer from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.)  All he wants is peace of mind.  The priest of Aten preaches to some of the soldiers.  Amenophis is amazed by the holy man's sense of inner peace.  The priest prophesizes that in two days, Amenophis will be acclaimed the pharaoh.  The Prince tells him that if he is right, he will ride with him as a free man to Thebes. 

The palace guards arrive.  The leader gets off his chariot and hails the new pharaoh.  His father has died.  The Prince turns over command to the highest ranking officer.  And he tells Tumos to return with the palace guard and pursue the woman he loves.  Tumos rides to see Tanit.  She comes out to greet him saying that she nearly died without him.  They are free now even from Benakon.  They have to wait 70 days for the period of mourning to end.  They plan to marry at the end of the period. 

Tumos thanks his boss for his help, while the High Priest performs the ceremony for Tanit's entry into his service.  He changes her name to Nefertiti.  Tumos rides back to see Tanit, but he finds that the guards have taken her.  And now the guards grab Tumos.  The High Priest only now informs Nefertiti that she is to be the bride of the new pharaoh.  Nefertiti scolds Benakon for ignoring the Pharaoh's mandate given to Tumos.  But Benakon shows her another mandate signed by the old pharaoh just before he died.  And even more importantly, perhaps, is that it is Benakon that is her father.  Nefertifti is deeply shocked by the news.  He says someday she will thank him for what he has done.

Amenophis officially begins his reign as Pharaoh.  Benakon has brought Nefertiti to the palace and dressed her appropriately for her new status.  But Nefertiti has not yet given up.  She says to her father that she will tell the Pharaoh about what his High Priest did.  The evil fellow responds that this would lead to the death of Tumos. 

At court the High Priest protests against the presence of the priest of Aten.  The Pharaoh dismisses his concern saying his religion is a private matter.  So Benakon goes on to introduce the woman chosen for him.  The Pharaoh helps Nefertiti to her chair beside him on the the throne. 

The young woman that adores Tumos has a plan to free him.  She does a dance before the guards, while her confederates proceed over to where Tumos is held.  One of the men is his former boss.  He throws Tumos a hammer, which Tumos uses to free himself from his chains.  A guard who hears the hammering starts to investigate but the beautiful dancer distracts him by dancing around him.  Tumos escapes.  He is given a horse and rides away. 

Tumos rides to a cave hideout.  Unfortunately, a lion has taken shelter in the cave too.  Tumos wrestles with the lion.  The beautiful dancer arrives and fires an arrow into the lion killing him and saving Tumos who has been mauled and is bleeding. 

At court a toast is made to Nefertiti, the most beautiful woman to ever grace the throne of Egypt.  The Pharaoh asks where is Tumos. The High Priest took his name off the guest list.  He tells Pharaoh that Tumos is dead.  He had ordered his release, but his blood-stained cloak was found.

At night Pharaoh complains to Nefertiti about her humiliating him.  She has hurt his feelings.  For three nights she did not come to him.  He notices that she is frightened.  She says she has never been alone with a man like this.  She begs him not to press her.  Nefertiti says she never wanted the position.  He says they have an obligation to their people.  If he insists, she says, then he may force himself on her.  He decides not to.  She apologizes for her behavior. 

Tumos hears the chants of "Long live the Queen!"  He wants to see the face of the new queen.  His boss and the dancing girl try to stop him, but he insists.  He is devastated to see Tanit with the pharaoh.  He shouts to Tanit.  She sees him but cannot show any reaction.  Nefertiti speaks with her father to complain about his behavior.  Meanwhile, Tumos gets himself drunk.  He asks Merith to drink with him.  She is very willing.  The next morning the boss finds him sleeping by Merith (but she still has her day clothes on).  The boss tells Tumos he will sculpt the Queen.  The Queen herself named the sculptor.  He will become one of the master sculptors of Egypt.  Tumos at first rejects the idea, but with a little prodding, he accepts. 

The Pharaoh and his Queen enter the sculpting room.  Pharaoh is amazed to find the sculptor is Tumos.   He thought Tumos was dead.  He asks about the woman he was going to marry.  Tumos says she rejected him.  This upsets the Queen and she says she is not feeling well.  The royal couple leave.  Merith says that Tanit still loves him and she hates her for it.  She wants to return to her people in the desert and forget all about Thebes.  But Tumos wants her to stay, so she does.  They take a walk and hear a priest railing against Pharaoh.  Tumos says there is something in the air.

Benakon speaks with his fellow clergymen.  He says that he has not been able to influence the Queen and therefore their priesthood is threatened.  He has a plan that will create an incident that will bring the royal couple to their senses. 

Tumos sculpts the Queen while Merith looks on.  He goes over to her and touches the side of her face.  She virtually melts into his hand.  Merith sees her reaction, gets upset, excuses herself and leaves.  Alone, the Queen asks Tumos why he hates her so.  She had no control over what happened.  Nefertiti tells him that she has nothing that she really wants.  She has never stopped loving him for an instant.  I am not a wife to Pharaoh.  She will never sop loving him.  Nefertiti asks him to try and understand.  At least don't hate her.  She can't bear it. 

Tumos finishes the sculpture.  He and the Queen kiss.  Tumos tells her that he must go away, but she tells him that she will never let him go.  He tells her that if they were discovered she would be in great danger.  He must leave for her sake.  Tomorrow he will chose a place for her statue before he leaves. 

At the temple the Queen comes hiding behind a veil.   She surprises Tumos.  He says it's dangerous, but she is willing to take the risk.  The priest of Aten is suddenly shot in the back with an arrow.  Then the temple is invades by attackers.  Tumos has to fight his way to safety for himself and the Queen.  The worshippers are killed along with their leader.  Tumos and Nefertiti escape through a side door.  They say goodbye.  Tumos says there are dark days ahead.  There is worse to come.  Amenophis will lose his control over the throne.  He suggests they flee together.  She is willing. 

The High Priest tells Pharaoh he's sorry about what happened, but this spontaneous outburst from the people must be noted.  Pharaoh says Benakon has brutally martyred a saintly man.  So now he proclaims the worship of just one God to be the new religion.  Benakon will give up his position and leave the city.  All traces of the false gods will be destroyed. 

Nefertiti happens by when her father is plotting against Pharaoh.  They will rouse the people on the Day of Penitence to revolt and destroy the new religion.  She goes to Tumos and they kiss.  Merith sadly watches the pair.  She tells Tumos about the plot.  She cannot desert the Pharaoh now.  Amenophis is not well and he has no one to support him.  She must stay.  Now she talks about the choice between love and duty.  She will become a good queen.  They have to set their love aside for awhile.  She sends Tumos out to the desert to bring back the Egyptian army.  He rides out. 

Benakon leads the people to attack the palace.  The general alarm is called.  The Pharaoh has locked himself in his room and refuses to see anyone.  The Queen must intercede.  Benakon arrives.  He insists that the Pharaoh must renounce Aten.  Nefertiti tries to talk to Amenophis, but he seems totally out of it.  He still thinks his priest is alive.  Nefertiti realizes that she is going to have to be the one to take action. 

The attack begins.  Someone must take command of the palace.  No, there is no word from the desert.  She tells her commander that the Pharaoh and the palace must be defended at all costs.  The troops battle the rebels.  The Pharaoh hears the commotion outside.  He picks up his sword, but doesn't do anything.  Benakon challenges the Pharaoh to show himself.  But it is Nefertiti who comes to speak to her father.  Benakon says they are outnumbered ten to one.  He threatens her, but she threatens him in return.  She gives a brave performance.  She goes back into the palace and the battle begins again.   

She orders the Pharaoh taken to a place of safety.  They will use the secret passageway.  When she opens the door to the Pharaoh's room, she screams.  He has taken his own live.  The rebels bust through the door using a huge log.  The general speaks of surrender, but Nefertiti won't hear of it.  They fight on.  The general is killed and then Benakon stops the fighting.  "So, we come to the very end, my daughter.  I offer you this very last chance to save your life and perhaps your throne."

But all of a sudden Turnos arrives.  They arrest him, but now the Egyptian army arrives.  Benakon grabs the Queen to use as a hostage.  Tumos breaks free and tries to grab Benakon but the men grab him again.  Benakon now tries to kill Turnos.   As he is about to drive a knife into Turnos, he is killed by an arrow.   Nefertiti and Turnos hug each other.  Turnos says:  "Nefertiti, now you are Egypt.  And we will remember the Tanit of yestereday."

 

Pretty good movie considering it was a B movie.  The story, however, has no relation to the truth except the name of the Queen and that she lived in Egypt.  All the rest is fiction that could have been placed in many different times and places.  Jeanne Crain was very thin and beautiful and Liana Orfei was sexy as Merith. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. d.

 


Historical Background:

1550-1295 B.C.  --  the Eighteenth Dynasty. 

1352-1334  --   reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV).

c. 1370  --  birth of Nefertiti.  She was the daughter of Ay, who would become pharaoh.  She had a sister named Mutnedjmet. 

Nefertiti became the Great Royal Wife (chief consort) of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV). 

They had six daughters. 

1356 BC  --  Meritaten.

1349  --  Meketaten.

Ankhesenpaaten (aka Ankhesenamen, later queen of Tutankhamun )

1346  --  Amenhotep IV started the worship of one God.   Akhetaten began construction of a new capital at today's Amarna. 

1345  --  Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten to mark his commitment to his new religion.  The Pharaoh and Nefertiti changed Egypt's polytheistic religion to a monotheism. They believed in only one god, Aten.

1344  --  Neferneferuaten Tasherit.  

1343 --  the capital officially moved from Thebes to Amarna.

1341  --  Amarna is completed.  A bust of Nefertiti (that later become famous) is sculpted.

1341  --  Neferneferure.

1339  --  Setepenre.

1338 (approx.)  --  Meketaten dies.  At this time Nefertiti elevated to co-regent.

1336  --  death of Nefertiti. 

1333-1324  --  reign of Tutankhamun, son of Akhenaten

 

 

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