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Egypt's 1952 Revolution in cinema

On the 60th anniversary of the Free Officers Revolution, Ahram Online takes a look at some of Egypt's best loved films grappling with the historic event

Sayed Mahmoud Sallam with contributions by Menna Taher, Tuesday 24 Jul 2012
Shorouk we Ghoroub
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Two Egyptian celebrations fall within the same week: the first is the 60th anniversary of 1952  Free Officers Revolution and the second is the commemoration of the death Egyptian actor Rushdy Abaza (1926-1980), who appeared in many films on the historic event.

Egyptian cinema is divided in its approach to the revolution, with some films praising the officer-led revolt and others criticising it. 

One of the most important films on the subject is Shorouk we Ghroub (Sunset and Sunrise) by Kamal El-Sheikh starring Abaza and Soad Hosny. The film is set after the great fire in Cairo that took place in January 1952.

Another film in which Abaza appears is Fi Beitona Ragol (There's a Man in our House) based on the novel by Ihsan Abdel Quddous. The film depicts the events that preceded the revolution and the struggle against British occupation. In the film, directed by Henry Barakat, Abaza's character is a policeman who ends up becoming a revolutionary.

Ah Ya Leil Ya Zaman (Oh Night, Oh Time), conversely, criticises the fight against feudalism. The film revolves around the daughter of a Pasha, whose land is taken away. After his death she flees to Europe to work in a night club, yet meets a man played by Abaza, who brings her back to Egypt.

Like Abaza, Egyptian actor Soad Hosny has also been hugely present in films focused on the revolution.  One of the best loved is El-Qahira 30 (Cairo 30) by Salah Abou Seif, which depicts the corruption within Egyptian society before the 1950s uprising.

The film not only highlights class discrimination in society but also examines the themes of personal dignity and corruption.

On a similar theme is El-Karnak, also starring Hosny, which examines torture in prison during the time of Abdel-Nasser's presidency.

Other films discussing the revolution include El-Seman Wel Kharif  (The Quail and Spring) and Rod Qalby (Return to Life).

 

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