File this under resurrected good news: Nefertiti, Halle Berry‘s collaboration with Monster’s Ball
director Marc Forster, may be emerging from development
hell. The MTV Movies Blog posted a short (like, twenty-second) clip
about the project from a recent interview with Berry (watch it
Let me highlight the phrases I like:
“Battle scenes,” “love,” “woman coming into
her own,” “woman ruler,” “that epic quality.”
Now that’s a mantra I can get behind. I’m also excited that a
woman of color will star. (I could totally see the cast of something
like this being whitewashed (hi, Liz Taylor in Cleopatra!)
and ending up with, say, Cate Blanchett in a skull cap.)
But Berry has the looks, the style and the regal bearing to play Nefertiti
and all of her adjectival phrases: Great of Favors, Possessed of Charm,
Mistress of Sweetness, Beloved One, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt.
And this is how she compares to Nefertiti
(or, more accurately, to an ancient bust).
No word on yet on the epic plot.
Actually, it’s up for a game of creative fill-in-the-blank, because
the full story of Nefertiti and her sickly, artistic and reclusive
husband, the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten, is so shrouded in mystery.
If you (like me) learned your Egyptian history from a combination of
Disney and Trivial Pursuit, here’s a little
juicy intro to
ancient gossip and wholly unsubstantiated rumor
After ascending to power, the Pharaoh
formerly known as Amenhotep IV pulled a stunt I’m sure we’ve all fantasized
about on an off day: He went and changed his name, founded a city and
started a religious revolution. (Just me? Fine.) Ruling
beside him was Nefertiti, who commanded unprecedented power for a woman
in the ancient world. You can tell because she’s depicted as nearly
the same size as her husband, which doesn’t often happen in ancient
I’m guessing the revolution would probably
be the subject of Berry’s movie: War, religious fervor and the building
of Really Big Things spell epic.
But far more interesting — to me,
anyway, because of the lesbianish potential — is what happens after Akhenaten’s death, when
Nefertiti had to return her family to the ancient ways. Subsequent
rulers almost obliterated the heretic Pharaoh from history, but in the
last century images have surfaced of the incredibly beautiful Nefertiti
and her strangely shaped (or, one might say, strangely shapely) husband.
The curvy hips, small waist and hint
of breasts in some reliefs have led to some wild speculation. One explanation
is a genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome, but the theory I prefer
is a genetic condition called womanhood. Is it possible that Akhenaten
was a chick? Hey, women have marshaled revolutions before. (Although we all know how that turns
Another rumor I like is the possibility
that Nefertiti herself filled the power void left by the death of her
husband. Maybe the subsequent succession of shadowy Pharaohs after
who shared some of her royal names — were all Nefertiti in drag.
That’s the movie I would like to see,
anyway, but I’ll settle for just getting an epic made. I have
fond memories of Ben Hur and Spartacus (although the Kraken
monster in Clash of the Titans also gave four-year-old-me
nightmares), so I would
look forward to this project with an odd mix of little-kid glee and
big-kid appreciation for women in period costumes. That’s right,
Warner Brothers: Some of us will pay good money to see women on-screen.