Director Matt Mamula’s “Die Like an Egyptian” is a bittersweet and gripping short documentary about our attempts to control our own death’s in a manner that allows us the illusion of control in the after life. For us, old age and mortality can be horrifying and harrowing a prospect, and director Mamula spotlights an older man who is racing against time to build himself a prominent memorial that will not only give him relevance after death, but perhaps help him garner a sense of control.
“Die Like an Egyptian” is a very good short documentary about the common theme of mortality. For some, they accept it and move on, while others feel like they never really contributed anything of merit. Fred is a 90 year old who fondly remembers going to visit an Egyptian tomb and garnering a sense of clarity. Not only did it plant the seeds for a lifelong fascination with Egyptian culture, but it imbued in him the idea that an Egyptian funeral is exactly what he wanted. Surely we can’t be certain about what kind of man Fred is, but we’re very keen to the notion that the Eyptian funeral of a pharoah is the kind that he wants.
And though he may not be a king, it’s his key to immortality that he can acquire without beating death. While “Die Like an Egyptian” is a very unusual short documentary, it touches upon our fear of death, and our even bigger fear of being forgotten once we’ve passed away. With Fred’s mission to finish his own pharaoh’s coffin, gold paint and all, he may just show that he can go out with a bang, and perhaps visit the Egyptian afterlife he’s always fondly researched since he was eight years old. It’s a fine documentary with a clear subject that audiences will relate to, and Matt Mamula offers us a wonderful look at the search for relevance that eludes many of us.