Hadduta misrija (An Egyptian Story) (1982)

 

 

 

 

Director:  Youssef Chahine

Starring:  Oussama Nadir (Yehia as a child), Mohsen Mohieddin (Yehia as a young man), Nour El-Sherif (adult Yehia), Ahmed Mehrez, Mohamed Mounir

second part of the autobiography of Youssef Chahine set against the Egyptian revolution; Alexandria Trilogy

 

Spoiler Warning:  the below tells the whole story.

This is the second part of the Alexandria Trio. The first one is Alexandria . . . Why? and the third is Alexandria Again and Forever.  In this second film of the trilogy, Yehia is now an adult.  He goes to London and has to have by-pass surgery for his heart. 

Using a method very similar to the movie about choreographer Bob Fosse, All that Jazz, Yehia dreams of being put on trial.  In the trial it appears that his young self was trying to kill his adult self.  The young self is very angry at the adult self because Yehia has ignored him along with all the members of the family.  Yehia has attained his film-making dreams and is still creative, but he is no longer an idealist.  And now he starts wondering if he has balanced his priorities wisely.  Did he sacrifice his personal life and his health for success in his career?  His heart problems (from too many cigarettes and a high cholesterol diet) came from working too hard and long.  All this has made him more conscious of his own mortality.  And he feels that he has not accomplished much in his personal live, which is a bit of a mess. 

Through flash-backs Yehia's past is examined in relation to events in the history of modern Egypt.  He remembers the time he worked in a bank and his fellows rushed into his place of employment to say that there were going to attack a British camp.  They, however, get distracted in a Free Egypt demonstration with shouts of Long Live Egypt and Down with the British.  The anti-riot squad starts to push the demonstrators back which creates a great deal of violence and confusion. In the fray Yehia manages to hit three officials with stones from his sling. 

Most of the rest of the film deals with Yahia's film career as actor and director.  At a film festival he presents his Nile Boy, which does not receive a lot of notice, much to his great disappointment.  And he remembers asking Amal to marry him. 

He becomes a bit bitter towards the Jews.  Although he was sad to see the Jews leave Alexandria, he comments that the Zionists have grabbed all the media. 

At the Berlin Film Festival they show his Cairo Station. Yehia, being a little short on cash, did not attend the festival.  Then he hears through the grape vine that he is going to be granted the best actor award at the festival for his portrayal of a cripple.  But a friend tells him that since he was not there to show everyone that he is not a cripple, the judges thought he was and so did not believe he deserved the award.  Needless to say, he was pretty mad:  "For want of 60 pounds" he laments and "I should have been there" he shouts.

He begins work on a film dealing with the Algerian Revolution against the French  called Jamila

Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal.  

At the Moscow film festival he learns that the French are trying to stop the showing of his film Jamila.  He travels to Algeria to get first-hand experience of the Algerian Revolution and almost gets himself killed. 

His next film would deal with Nubia after Om Kalsum. 

He gets his daughter Jamila out of jail and speaks very rudely to her boyfriend, Sayed, who was arrested with her, and who he has just met at the jail. 

He becomes very angry in a meeting with the board of censors who want to censor his next movie The Sparrow that he has been working on for two years.  

By the end of the film, he seems to reconcile himself with his young self with both admitting they need each other.  If this has created a new healthier man, we are not shown any transformation. 

This second part of the trilogy is not as good as the first movie.  It seems to use the idea of the trial out of Bob Fosse's All that Jazz, and it is just not as satisfactory or maybe was just not done as well.  The trial was a bit confusing.  And there was not that much interweaving of current events with personal events that was so effective in the first movie of the trilogy.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


Historical Background: 

 

See Alexandria Again and Forever  (1989) .

 

Summary of the Life of Director Youssef Chahine. 

1926 (January 25)  --  Youssef Chahine was born in Alexandria, Egypt.

He began his education at a friars' school.

He attended the prestigious Victoria College.

After one year at Alexandria University, he moved to the United States to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse.

After completing his studies, he returned to Egypt.

He becomes interested in directing movies. Cinematographer Alvise Orfanelli helped him get his start.

1950  --  appearance of Baba Amin.

1951  --  for his work Nile Boy he was first invited to the Cannes Film Festival.

1954  --  The Blazing Sun.  In the film he introduced Omar Sharif in his first starring role.

1958  --  in Bab al-Hadid (Cairo Station), he provided Nadia Lutfi with an early role  --  that of a murder victim.  The movie deals with a "fallen woman" who meets a violent end. 

1970 --  he was awarded a Golden Tanit at the Carthage Film Festival.

1973  --  in The Sparrow he expressed his political opinions following the Six Day War with Israel.  He believed that the corruption in Egypt led to the nation's defeat in that War.

1978  --  Alexandria . . . Why?  for which he won a Silver Bear in Berlin, the first installment of an autobiographic quartet.

1982  --  Hadduta misrija (aka, An Egyptian Story).

1990 -- Iskanderija, kaman oue kaman (aka, Alexandria Again and Forever).

1992 --  staged a piece for Comdie-Franaise based on his adaptation of Albert Camus' Caligula.  It was a big success.

1994  --  he started writing The Emigrant inspired by the Biblical story of Joseph.  The film was controversial because the Egyptian fundamentalists were opposed to the depiction of religious characters in films.

1997  --  at the Cannes Film Festival, he received a lifetime achievement award.

2004  --  Alexandria...New York (2004).

 

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