Top 5 Weirdest Ancient Egyptian Hollywood Names

Ah, ancient Egyptian movies. Love them or hate them, you have to admit they're entertaining. But when Hollywood and history unite, strange things happen to characters' names. From the strange to the just plain silly, here are my top 5 weirdest names from ancient Egyptian films.

Does Ftatateeta own a hairbrush?
  1. Ftatateeta from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). Can't figure out how to pronounce this one? Neither can Claude Raines' Julius Caesar. He keeps stumbling over the nonsensical name of Cleopatra's trusted Nubian servant. Also, someone should have told the casting director that Nubians are black.
  2. Nellifer from Land of the Pharaohs (1955). It's like the writers got together one day, smoked something funny, and tried to decide what to call the movie's treacherous femme fatale. Nefer is the ancient Egyptian word for beauty. I can hear the conversation now: "What about Nellie?" "Nah, not Egyptian enough. How about Nefer?" "No, I've got it...Nellifer!" "Brilliant!"
  3. Shila from Cleopatra's Daughter (1960). Contrary to what you'd expect from the title, this film is not about Cleopatra's daughter Selene. No, it's about a fictional daughter named Shila. I mean...Shila, really? Come on, at least try to make it sound Egyptian.
  4. Anck-su-namun from The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001). Not only does she have a faux-Egyptian name, pharaoh's mistress walks around in nothing but gold body paint and has an affair with the high priest Imhotep (which is a real Egyptian name). To make things even odder, none of the characters pronounce her name in exactly the same way. I think her name may actually be based on that of Ankhesenamun, King Tut's wife.
  5. Nefer from The Egyptian (1954). Nefer's is the most harmless name on this list. It's an actual Egyptian name. A male one. Since Nefer is a woman, her name should be Nefret. The real reason I put her on this list is because in the novel the movie's based on, her name is Nefer-nefer-nefer. That, and she wears an increasingly bizarre series of wigs.
"Darling, you must give me the number of your wigmaker!"

      4 comments:

      1. Haha! I've always like Neferneferuaten Nefertiti- try saying that ten times fast. And I always wondered if The Mummy based Anck-su-namun on Ankhesenamun too. Too bad they royally goofed it up.

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      2. I've always loved Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti as well--we can only hope that it was a formal name and her family and friends didn't call her that!

        Anck-su-namun's name has always bugged me. Most of the actors pronounce it "AnAck-su-namun," with an extra A in the first part. Except for pharaoh, who (in the second movie at least) pronounces it "Anck-su-nIamun." Except for Jonathan, who pronounces it exactly the way it's spelled (except when he doesn't). What the heck, people, pick a version and stick with it!

        Movies are so funny when it comes to ancient Egyptian. The Mummy franchise is a perfect example of that. Sometimes they're wide of the mark, with people names like Anck-su-namun and place names like Hamunaptra. And sometimes they're dead on, like with Imhotep's name and the fact that the characters speak genuine ancient Egyptian.

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      3. I have been collecting ancient Egyptian names for years. I have always wanted to write about them. One of the biggest misconceptions that has always bugged me is that Cleopatra is a Greek name.

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      4. Actually, Sebastiane, Cleopatra IS a Greek name. Unless you mean that most people mistakenly believe it's Egyptian?

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