Created by Derrick Forkel and Mitchell Jao, the animated short film “Pharaoh” offers a different viewpoint in the ruling world of Ancient Egypt.
The story starts with a shot of the current Pharaoh, a young girl, looking very petrified as she sits on her new throne. In this shot, we see a statue of a Sphinx taking the full shot which suggest that at this point in the film she is still not completely assertive of her role as she hides behind what is the idea of true ruling. We then see her looking around and we understand that she was probably just given the role as Queen. She doesn’t take fully her responsibility yet of a “Queen Pharaoh” probably because she still doesn’t accept the fact that she is the ruler.
Doors open and we see what we can imagine is a prisoner being taken to her castle by her right hand man, the Vizier (this is how they called Pharaoh’s right-hand men in Ancient Egypt) who for a good five seconds is just a shadow of light suggesting that this is what the Pharaoh sees. Usually in these context of films, not knowing what a face looks like is a representation of someone being a supreme being – so even though Pharaoh is the ruler, she puts her Vizier in a higher state than her because he’s a man and that’s what she was taught.
Her Vizier forces the man with him towards the throne as he tells her that “this man was speaking your name is vain” and that the consequences are death. He doesn’t give her a choice yet – he just tells her what to do. She stops him right away with a timid voice saying there must be a better way to handle it instead of killing him. Her Vizier replies that there’s always been death as a punishment, “hasn’t it?” suggesting that he doesn’t want to let this girl change anything yet – he’s not ready for it. He eventually says that her father also took a bit of time to accept the hard consequences of being a ruler.
She then asks the prisoner if he has anything to say for himself – to which he replies by insulting the kingdom and spits towards the throne right after saying that she doesn’t deserve to be a Queen. This obviously affects her overall confidence towards the choice currently being made suggesting that not only her royal servants don’t see her as a ruling matter but her people don’t think she’s fit as well. She’s obviously in shock, pain and anger and therefore lets her Vizier kill the prisoner.
We then go on another shot where we see her sitting on the first few steps below the royal seat crying and in reflection. This is a beautiful shot that represents her feeling not worthy of the crown and not seeing the power that she truly has.
Her second hand comes back to the room saying that she made the right decision and that he ordered to display the prisoner’s body outside so that everyone can see what happens if they disrespect the queen. To his surprise, and to ours as well, she finally claws back and says “no, we will give him a proper burial” as she gets back up towards her throne. She also tell her servant that they will put an end to the suffering of her people and that it’s the best course of action for a peaceful world. The fact that she finally says “my people” proves that she is taking full on responsibility and confidence for her role and is ready to rule like a true queen.
The short film ends with the queen looking down her throne and around confidently before sitting down showing that this is her place and she is not ready to let it go.
This movie shows the progression of young girls in a world that won’t let them progress the way they should in general – “Pharaoh” teaches girls to be proud of their voices and that they mean something. We understand that no matter what the context is – poor, rich or whatever – anyone has a right to have a voice and an opinion, girls as much as guys.
Watch “Pharaoh” below:
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