Sadat (1983)

 

 

 

Director:     Richard Michaels.

Starring:     Louis Gossett Jr. (Anwar al-Sadat), John Rhys-Davies (Gamal Abdel Nasser), Madolyn Smith Osborne (Jihan Sadat), Jeremy Kemp (Thompson), Reuven Bar-Yotam (Sibai), Eric Berry (Rashad), Anne Heywood (Mrs. Raouf), Ferdy Mayne (Mullah), Barry Morse (Menachem Begin), Thaao Penghlis (Amer), Nehemiah Persoff (Leonid Brezhnev), Pepe Serna (Atif Sadat), Paul L. Smith (King Farouk), Jeffrey Tambor (Sharaff), Aharon Ipal (Israeli Man).

Made for TV movie. 

Life of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat who went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize after he negotiates peace with Israel.

 

 

Spoiler Warning.  below is a summary of the entire film.

1970.  Diplomat Elliott Richardson talks with an agent about the change of government in Egypt.  Egyptian leader Nasser dies of a heart attack.  Sadat is the new president.  His nickname was Nasser's poodle.  He won't last long.  Maybe a couple of months.  The agent says one of the various factions are sure to overthrow him.  He then shows Richardson three photos of the faction leaders.  The first one is Abu El Ali, Moscow's boy.  Yusef Sibai is typical of the type of man Sadat wants on his side   Then there's Ali Sharaff who fell into disfavor with Nasser and was brought back by Sadat. Sadat is a man who has no faction of his own. 

Elliott Richardson of the United States comes in to see Sadat.  Sadat tells Richardson that they thank President Nixon for the condolences he expressed for the loss of Nasser.  Anwar says that one thing that will keep Egypt politically stable that they must restore is their sense of pride in Egypt.  And they must avenge the Zionist aggression of June, 1967.  Richardson says Washington is more interested in economic reform in Egypt rather than preparation for another war with Israel.  And they want the Communists out of the Egyptian government.  Sadat seems a bit tired.  He looks at his image in the mirror and poses in different stances. Richardson gets back in the car and he agrees with his colleague that the smart money says Sadat is gone within a year. 

Downstairs Sadat's wife Jihan is unpacking some of their things.  Her brother-in-law Atif is helping her.  Sadat comes down but still just look exhausted.  Jihan comes over to soother her husband's frayed nerves.  He complains that he is just not a real head of state.  The whole thing is a mockery.  He says they are laughing at him.  Sadat says he is like an actor trying to give the impression of being a good leader. Jihan tells him to forget Nasser.  She says he must be his own man and he will be a better leader than Nasser. 

Sharaff comes to see Sadat.  He wants to talk about this Abu El Ali and the communists.  The communists are afraid that Sadat is going to entrench himself too far into the government.  Sharaff has a tape done under Nasser.  Sadat says he is not Nasser and he has no intention of arresting a bunch of communists in the middle of the night based on an illegal tape.  He tells Sharaff to destroy the tape.  He says we must begin anew after Sharaff destroys the tape.  His wife tells Sharaff that Sadat is exactly what Egypt needs now. 

Sadat is talking to the air force people and Sharaff tries to get in touch with him.  But the fellow answering the phone was told by el Ali that under no circumstances was Sharaff be put through to Sadat.

Mrs. Sadat visits a hospital to speak with the sick boys and girls.  Sharaff comes to get Mrs. Sadat.  In the meantime, someone plants a bomb under Sadat's car.  He wants Jihan to talk to Sadat and tell him of the danger.  She does cooperate and that foils the plot.  The bomb goes off when the driver turns on the ignition, but Sadat is on the phone elsewhere speaking with his wife.  . 

A newspaper editor asks Sadat for his next step, because Egyptians love bold steps.

Moscow 1971.  Sadat and Brezhnev talk together.  Brezhnev doesn't like Sadat throwing almost every leader of the Egyptian communist party in jail.  And Brezhnev doesn't like the idea of another war between Egypt and Israel.  The wars always bring in the interference of the United States.  Sadat says that his army can go all the way to Jerusalem without Russian help.  Brezhnev laughs at this saying they wouldn't even be able to get over the Suez Canal without Russian assistance.  He then assures Sadat that he will get the Soviet equipment that he needs, but he wants Soviets to run the weaponry.  Sadat says the only thing he will take is some Soviet military advisers. 

Sadat finds that a tank unit has been moved back from the Suez Canal.  And this was done at the request of the senior Russian military adviser.  Upstairs with Sadat, the adviser tries to explain that he thought he was just correcting an obvious error.  What error?  He says with the units put in the Sinai, it leaves Cairo wide open to an invasion.  Sadat says he made the move because he expected to be getting a missile battery to protect Cairo.  The adviser says that's a political matter that he does not get involved with.  Sadat tells him he better start thinking about the equipment that Egypt will need. 

Sharaff tells Sadat that the students of Egypt are calling out for an invasion.  They want the Sinai Peninsula back.  Sadat refuses to close the universities for a week or so as Sharaff suggested.  But he says he will take action.  He says he will go speak to the students and get them to trust him to be strong.  Sadat is going to war with or without Russia.  Brezhnev says no.  When it is time to grab the Sinai back, the Russians will let Sadat know.  But Sadat doesn't want to hear this.  He says the Russians underestimate the Egyptians.  Sadat gets so mad that he says all the Russians have to be out of Egypt in 72 hours.

Sadat speaks to the university students.  He tells them that he is throwing out all the Russians from Egypt.  This is a new era.  The students, however, are still more with Nasser than with Sadat.  He says before the year is out they will have driven the enemy out of the Sinai.  The students like this part of Sadat's speech and give him a big hand. They even chant:  "Sadat!  Sadat!"

October 6, 1973.  (Yom Kippur 5733).  The Egyptians are going to catch Israel by surprise. 

An Israeli guard sees some planes coming their way.  He shouts out a warning, but the planes are quickly on top of them. 

The Egyptians take quite a bit of land from the Israelis largely because of the surprise attack.  After a week the Israelis are taking back the territory.  Sadat says that they must bargain for a cease-fire before this turns into another Six Day War.  Sadat learns that he has lost his brother in the war.  Sadat asks himself why his brother had to die?  At least he died a hero and avenged the horrors of the Six Day War.  And now he asks himself why do these killings go on and on back and forth.  He feels like he is responsible for his brother's death.  He now tells his brother that he will find a way to stop the killing.  He even promises his brother that he will stop the killing. 

Arab leaders start worrying about Sadat because he has been traveling around searching for his own fulfillment of a private dream.  Some even consider removing Sadat forcibly from power.  The Israelis, however, have their spies out.  The spies report that these visitors in Egypt are Egyptians in the pay of Khadafi and Libya.  Khadafi wants Sadat assassinated on July 23.   Menachem Begin tells his agents to inform Sadat about the assassination plot.  He says Khadafi is a cave man but this Sadat might be something different. 

When Sadat gets back home Sharaff tells him that Menachem Begin has informed them of an assassination attempt set for July 23.  Sadat is shocked about the origin of the warning.  Sadat can't believe that this Begin fellow actually  wants peace.  He asks himself:  "Peace with Israel?" 

Sadat is given a hand carried message from President Jimmy Carter of the United States.  This intrigues Sadat and he quickly opens the letter.  He keeps looking over the letter and thinking, thinking.  His wife is worried about her husband and she goes to check on him.  She asks if this sleeplessness is about Carter's letter?  Yes, he says.  He also says he trusts Jimmy Carter.  The president has challenged Sadat to make a dramatic move.  He wants to do something, but what?

Sadat talks about going to Geneva to talk peace with Israel. He says he would even go to Jerusalem if he thought it would help.  Begin tells reporters that if Sadat is sincere in his wishes, he may come to Jerusalem.  He says the Israelis mean him no harm.  Sadat listens to what Begin tells the reporters and he is amazed that he might actually make it to Jerusalem.  He says this will make his name a curse word in the Arab world.  The newspaper man says that Begin and Sadat have now got the attention of the western press and they will pin both sides down  -- Israeli and Egyptian.  The two leaders communicate through the press.  Sadat says there will be no preconditions on the talks, Begin agrees completely.  Sadat says he cannot go where he is not invited.. Begin answers in the press that if he wants an invitation they extend an invitation to Sadat.  Begin officially offers and Sadat officially accepts. Sadat praises the press for making these peace meetings possible and gives them a warm applause. 

Ben Gurion Airport, Jerusalem, November 19, 1977.  The flight only took 28 minutes. Mrs. Sadat tells her husband how very proud she is of him.  Even if he does nothing else besides this, it will be enough.  He says he is very nervous and she tells him of course, because he is about to do the most important thing in his entire life.  The plane lands and the door opens.  Sadat comes out and is welcomed warmly complete with a band and a nice size audience.  There is a lot of clapping for him.  The band plays the Egyptian national anthem (and probably the Israeli national anthem).  Sadat and Begin stand at attention. 

Sadat now inspects the Israel Guard of Honor.  After this he shakes hands with Gen. Sharon and former prime minister Golda Meir.  Now Sadat goes before the Israeli Knesset.  He is given a warm reception.  He says he comes to make a psychological crossing of the Suez Canal.  Death treats the dead the same regardless whether they are Israeli or Egyptian.  He goes on to say he wants to live in permanent peace based in justice with Israel. 

Sadat tells a reporter that the Arab leaders know in their heart of hearts that Israel is here to stay.  He adds that if there is a road to peace, the Arab states will take it.  The newspaper man now suggests to Sadat that he find neutral ground where he can meet with the Israelis. 

Cypress.  The newspaper man lands in Cypress and is assassinated by men with automatic weapons poising as the airport crew.  Sadat visits his friend's body in the morgue.  The assassins were Palestinians, allies of Arafat.  A note is left explaining the reasons for the assassination.  The victim is said to have been a traitor, a lover of Jews, a traitor to Islam and the Arab peoples.   The warning to Sadat is that his death is now close at hand.  Sadat says his friend will not have died in vain. 

Sadat is now prepared to act alone, because he is not going to get cooperation from the other Arab leaders.  He says he's just too tired of all this death. 

Somewhere in North Africa.  Mose Dayan arrives in a plane, gets in a limousine and gets a message to Begin.  Begin accepts coming to the United States.  The USA will provide a neutral ground.

They meet at Camp David in Pennsylvania.  Egypt wants Israel out of the Sinai, but Begin still doesn't trust him.  Begin asks Carter will Egypt recognize Israel as a nation?  Sadat says yes through Carter.  Begin says:  "For only the promise of peace, I must give up everything."  Sadat sees Begin walking in the forest and he walks over to him.  They start talking about the negotiations.  Begin asks a good question.  What if Sadat is killed by his Arabs?  Sadat says the peace will still go on without him.  The two men start trusting each other, as they can see the sincerity in each other's eyes.  A peace agreement is signed.  

His wife is still very proud of her husband in spite of the many nasty comments by the other Arab leaders. 

October 6, 1981.  Sadat will be in the reviewing stand for a military display.  Assassins are checking their weapons to make sure they kill Sadat.  Planes fly overhead and armored vehicles roll past the reviewing stand.  All of a sudden soldiers jump out of the back of a truck and start throwing grenades at Sadat and shooting at him.  He is killed along with others.

"On April 25, 1982, the Israelis withdrew entirely from the Sinai Peninsula.  A this time, despite new political leaders in both countries, the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty is still in place.  That is truly Sadat's most fitting epitaph."

 

Good movie tracing Sadat's ideas from those of a warrior to those of a man of peace.  He starts the Yom Kippur War, but then realizes how high a prize so many young men had to pay for this short war. Sadat switches from war to peace.  It's a slow process, but little by little he gets enough positive feedback to make him keep going forward with the peace ideal.  Ultimately, peace really depended on whether or not Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat trusted each other.  The key to the agreement was when the two leaders faced each other without any intermediary and just talked from their hearts about their reasons for wanting peace and what they were willing to do to get peace.  Mrs. Sadat was also a big moral and emotional support for her husband, who was basically all alone among the Arab leaders.  She told her husband that if he never accomplished anything more than this peace agreement, that will be enough to have made his reign worthwhile. 

Louis Gossett Jr. (as Anwar al-Sadat) and Barry Morse (as Menachem Begin) were both very good in their roles.  Looking in the eyes of the two actors you believe their sincerity about wanting peace.  It was quite moving. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 


Historical Background:

Egypt a virtual British colony at the time.

1918  -- born into a family of 13 children. His father was a local hospital clerk.

He grew up in Mit Abul Kom, 40 miles to the north of Cairo, Egypt.

In his youth, Sadat admired the courage at facing death of a man named Zahran hanged by the British for participating in a riot in which a British officer died.

He also admired Kemel Ataturk, winner of th battle against the British at Gallipoli and creator of the modern state of Turkey. Ataturk was a progressive who established several civil service reforms in his country.

1932  -- India's Mohandas Gandhi tours Egypt.  He becomes an influence on Sadat.

1936 --  he is one of the first students at the newly created military school in Egypt.
After graduation, he serves in a distant outpost, where he meets the future president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Sadat joins in with Nasser and other young officers to form a group devoted to throwing the British out of Egypt. He is thrown in jail twice for his efforts.
Out of prison, he returns to civilian life. During this time, he meets his future wife Jihan.

1952  --  the Free Officers Organization overthrows the monarchy. As Nasser's trusted lieutenant, Sadat oversees the official abdication of King Farouk.  He also is made Nasser's public relations minister.

1956  --  Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal.  The British, French, and Israelis attack Egypt.  The U.S.A. pressures the allies to withdraw, thus letting Egypt retain control over the canal.
debacle of the Six Day War, in which the Israelis completely destroyed the Egyptian air force and swept through to the Suez Canal, killing at least 3,000 soldiers.

1969  --  when Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol dies, Meir (now 71 years old) becomes the prime minister.

1970  -- Nasser dies. Sadat succeeds him.  Sadat offers a peace treaty with the Israelis in exchange for the return of the Siani, but at first they refuse the offer.

1972  --  Sadat expels 15,000 Soviet advisers and experts in Egypt.

1973  -- Yom Kippur War. Egypt attacks into the Sinai driving the Israeli army into the desert. Syria attacks in the Golan Heights. The Israelis pushed them back, but it change the Israelis mind about the peace offer.

1974  -- since Golda Meir could not get her cabinet to agree on policies, she resigns in favor of Yitzhak Rabin. 

1977  --  Israel's Menachem Begin, head of the Likud party, wins the Knesset elections and becomes Prime Minister of Israel.

1977  --  he speaks o the Egyptian parliament about desiring peace with Israel, even to the point of personally going to Israel.   Israel responded positively and Sadat makes a speech to the Israeli Knesset.  

1978  --  American President Carter invites Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to meet with him at the presidential retreat, Camp David, Maryland. The Camp David Accords hammers out an approach to peace between Israel and Egypt.

1979  -- final peace treaty with Israel. Sadat wins the Nobel Prize for Peace.

1980 - 1981  --  makes several reforms and outlaws protest. He also declares that the Shari'a as the basis of all new Egyptian law.

1981  -- Sadat is assassinated by religious fundamentalists, the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, during a military review celebrating the 1973 Suez crossing.

 

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