Matt Mamula’s short documentary Die Like An Egyptian focuses on 90-year old Fred Guentert, a man who has been fascinated with Egyptian history, most notably their burial habits, since he was a young boy. That fascination has led him, over the years, to craft his own Egyptian-style coffin, using techniques and materials similar to what they used in ancient times.
I’m old enough to know that I’m going to die (and not know it in that teenage “we’re all gonna die” bravado sense but, hey, I’m actually going to die), yet I have to admit that the ideas of how, if and where I will be buried have not been something I’ve spent a long time thinking about. Then again, I’m not Fred, nor am I in my 90s, so we obviously have different interests. That said, it’s easy to find that universal connection to Fred.
Which is the true power of the piece. On the one hand, it’s a subject with a nice hook, guy makes his own ancient Egyptian-style coffin, but the moments that resonate are when we realize how like Fred we are. On a simply human level, sure, but more so when we think of our fascinations or obsessions. Maybe we can’t take it with us, as they say, but what we leave behind can be an expression of what we carried through our lives. Fred’s form of burial doesn’t praise himself, or tribute his own life, but instead his interests. Then again, it’s a tribute to Fred that he would follow such an idea all the way through.
In the end, Die Like An Egyptian is a well-shot documentary that makes us question life, death and even what it is that we live for every day. Universal ideas and questions, sure, but sometimes we get caught up in the noise and forget to reflect on what it means to be here. This short, for at least nine minutes, will clear the noise.
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