The Youssef Chahine Podcast, No. 1: The Blazing Sunaka Struggle in the Valley/ Sira` Fi al-Wadi (Youssef Chahine, Egypt, 1954)

 

 

José Arroyo and Richard Layne discovered the work of Youssef Chahine at a retrospective of his work at Bologna last year, are thrilled that so many previously difficult-to-see films of his are now available on Netflix, and hope that these podcasts encourage people to watch and discuss the films. This is the first in a series. We hope to cover as many of them as possible, and in chronological order. We hope you join us on this journey

 

In Film Alert 101,Peter Hourigan alerts readers to the Chahine treasure trove on Netflix but writes of Blazing Sun: ´BLAZING SUN  (aka Struggle in the Valley 1954, 116 min) An example of his early work, when he was trapped in commercial Egyptian film production. This is a hoary melodrama – but enormously entertaining, and with brilliant b & w photography. There is also an absolutely ravishingly beautiful young man called Michel Chelhoub in the lead.  Later, he was to find fame in the west as Omar Shariff´.

We agree on the film being enormously entertaining and on the extraordinary photography but I also happen to think it´s a great melodrama and a great film, the struggles of the poor against the wickedness of the rich, about love, life, community, the material aspects of life that  reproduce it, all bound with questions of morality and justice. It´s very moving, extraordinarily beautiful to look at — Chahine is a visual poet — and the moments of awkwardness that often accompany cinemas of poverty seem to me to only add to its power. 

A great opportunity to see these films and we hope the podcast will convince you to take a look,

The Blazing Sun

 

Richard Laine has been able to track another Faten Hamama/ Omar Shariff vehicle, with English sub-titles if not in the best condition, and you can see it here:

‘Cinema Sojourns: Time Tripping Through the World of Film’ has published an article worth reading on Omar Sharif: The Youssef Chahine Years, 1954-1956

Other websites of interest:

www.youssefchahine.us/chahine/bio.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2008/jul/28/youssef.chahine

https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/6468-youssef-chahine-restorations-tour-europe

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-jul-28-me-chahine28-story.html

https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/in-the-realm-of-the-senses-the-egyptian-stories-of-youssef-chahine

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/4/47380/Remembering-the-epitome-of-golden-cinema-Omar-Sharif

https://insidearabia.com/omar-sharif-and-faten-hamama-egypts-legendary-celebrity-couple/

https://martinteller.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/siraa-fil-wadi-struggle-in-the-valley/

https://www.kviff.com/en/programme/film/5228409-the-devil-of-the-desert/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udOs2GN4p80&t=10s

José Arroyo

3 thoughts on “The Youssef Chahine Podcast, No. 1: The Blazing Sunaka Struggle in the Valley/ Sira` Fi al-Wadi (Youssef Chahine, Egypt, 1954)

  1. Thanks for your podcast. And you’re right – my FilmAlert note did undervalue this film So wonderful to see it again this week – w/o everything else at Cin. Ritrov. swamping it in my mind, and seeing how it really is so much more than a commercial melodrama. Interestingly, my FilmAlert post had the biggest response on the site by miles. So there is clearly a lot of interest in Chahine. Enjoyed the podcast – but could Richard be closer to the mic. I missed his comments a lot of the time.

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