Case Number 13627: Small Claims Court


Cinema Epoch // 2001 // 52 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kristin Munson (Retired) // May 14th, 2008

The Charge

The search for an ancient tomb. A mountain woven with secrets.

The Case

I wanted to like Mount Nemrud: The Throne of the Gods. I certainly should have liked Mount Nemrud: The Throne of the Gods. Ancient art, historical mystery, unconventional archaeologists, it's got everything I could want in a documentary subject; it's the execution that's the problem. Tolga Ornek, director of Gallipoli and The Hittites, has plenty of history to work with but a measly 50 minutes to tell the larger-than-life story of an obscure monument built several miles up the side of a mountain.

The ancient Turkish monument on Mount Nemrud was built by King Antiochus in the 1st Century B.C. A man-made mountain was constructed on top of a real mountain and surrounded by giant figures of gods from three different pantheons, with Antiochus' statue seated among them. It was discovered by archaeologist in the late 1800s, dismissed by the historical community, and ignored until a 1950's expedition led by partially deaf female archaeologist.

Instead of focusing on the later excavation or a detailed exploration of Nemrud, the doc tries to do it all, and an hour isn't enough time to cover half the interesting material the narrator baits you with. Story elements are isolated chunks dropped in place with no connecting mortar. Plonk! The discovery of Mount Nemrud. Plonk! The archeological excavation. Plonk! The history of King Antiochus. Plonk! Plonk! Plonk! as my chin hits my chest and snaps me awake.

The whole thing feels like a poorly organized History Channel program rather than a movie. One segment will contradict the next because of the disconnected narrative, and the pacing is off. The first half hour flies by but then the history of King Antiochus gets bogged down with confusing and unnecessary names and facts only to regain its footing and come to a natural ending point...and then go on for another eight minutes. Another niggling detail is the weird subjectivity of the narrator. Antiochus is constantly being labeled vain and yet that word never comes up in programs about the pyramids or Roman monuments, which were built with the same motivations.

The best parts of the documentary are when the story steps back and lets the scenery speak for itself. Stone reliefs, giant statues, computer recreations of missing features, an entire pyramid of loose rock, these are what I came to see. Sure, seeing a Roman legion riddled with arrows is cool, but it can't compete with the real thing, like the frieze of the constellation Leo where the alignment of stars is so accurate that historians can tell the exact night its depicting.

The DVD's tech side is just bland: a television quality full-frame with a stereo track. There are no extras to make up for the short main feature, and Cinema Epoch even cut corners for their own the promo section, including a slideshow of DVD covers for their other titles instead of trailers.

A high price point and a short run time don't add up to a good value, and the documentary itself doesn't give you enough meat for your money. If you're really interested in ancient art and mysterious monuments, skip the disc and buy a book.

Review content copyright © 2008 Kristin Munson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 64

Perp Profile
Studio: Cinema Epoch
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 52 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* Wikipedia: Mount Nemrud