Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb Documentary Film Review

★★★★ Stars

Directed by: #JamesTovell

Starring: #SalimaIkram, #NabilEldaleel, #AmiraShaheen, #MostafaWaziri

Film Review by: Alicia Moore

Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb is a Netflix documentary which showcases a thorough and exciting journey – the discovery of the resting place of a high priest, named Wahtye. Before this tomb was discovered in 2018, it had been untouched for 4,400 years; a one of a kind find in decades. Audiences follow Egyptian archaeologists as they work to dig deeper into the sands of history and join together to decipher the pieces that they find.


Not only does this documentary focus on the discoveries in regards to Wahtye, his family and other past connections, it also expands to share information and expert knowledge on further details of ancient Egypt. All of this knowledge beautifully connects to the primary topic of the nearly discovered tomb, but is extremely interesting in its own right. For example, Salima Ikram (a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo) talks about the beliefs that were held by Egyptians of that time, explaining the aspects of a tomb and showing why tombs were the desired resting place for the dead. Viewers are constantly being pulled into the depths of intelligence that are being shared, leaving no space for a ‘boring’ dip in this production.

Linking to this continuous thrill, the mixture of onsite shots and more personal shots with archeologists alike, bring the film an atmosphere that contains pure passion and raw emotion. The audience travels with each person involved in the process; they see their emotions clearly and the love they hold for their work is evident. The connection that these individuals have with their work is beyond beautiful… it is quite touching to hear how some of their daily lives join with that of their past relatives, and those far before them, through various activities, techniques and tools. Every individual is seen to combine with the positive energy of another and viewers then intertwine with their output as well. Of course these emotions would be intoxicating in any setting, but James Tovell (director) has perfectly balanced the previously mentioned two sides of screen time to keep the heart racing. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in the topic of the documentary itself, I can assure you that it will still become a reliable source of motivation and inspiration that is easily transferable to anyone’s ambitions. Success for one can result in happiness for many, through shared smiles!

The cinematography of this film (Ryan Earl Parker) is simply stunning. Every feature is enhanced due to the talent that sits behind the camera, each shot presenting a range of uniqueness. The unique element is primarily created by the discoveries of hidden history but the cinematography is one of the main gateways to enable viewers to see the past glow brightly in front of them. Bones, skulls, statues, colourful hieroglyphs and much more are uncovered and captured by the lens, filling the screen with such clear detail that will stay in one’s mind with a golden ribbon wrapped around the memory. As an audience member, I felt very close to the project as it was unfolding before me and that feeling of total immersion doesn’t leave the body for a long period of time after the credits have rolled.

Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb introduces a mass amount of new historic events and, quite frankly, has the ability to change perspectives on the already existing history of ancient Egypt; also changing perspectives on a broader timeline of history as a whole. This is an extraordinary documentary, in relation to the content as well as its overall making — a fascinating conversation starter after experiencing the development of understanding and wisdom with just a few clicks.