The Youssef Chahine Podcast with José Arroyo and Richard Layne, No. 13: Alexandria Again and Forever (Egypt, 1990)

Alexandria Now and Forever.poster

A discussion of Alexandria Again and Forever, the third film in what was initially called Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria Trilogy — including Alexandria… Why ? (1979) and An Egyptian Story (1982)) and later to expand into a quartet and include Alexandria….New York (2004) — focussing on the uses of Shakespeare, the influence of the American musical on Chahine, John Gielgud’s visit to perform Hamlet in Cairo, queer desire, the peplum film, Alexander, Anthony and Cleopatra, Art and Activism, the 1978 cinema artists’ strike in Egypt.

The scenes  we refer to include this onset filming of a Hamlet soliloquy below:

 

the MGM musical à la Egyptian at the Berlin Film Festival below:

…which makes an interesting contrast with the Donald O’Connor solo visible below:

Listeners might find interesting this article by Margaret Litvin on

Hamlet's Arab Journey: Shakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost.

and this excerpt from John Gielgud: Matinee Idol to Movie Star Book by Jonathan Croall:

gielgud

Lastly, this is the scene from the strike that ends the film and becomes a musical number, bringing once more into play the personal and political, the fictional and the historical…from a fictionalised personal narrative and onto history:

 

Here is the article on Chahine, affectionately called The Professor, that made Richard aware that his nickname was Joe and that we had recorded this not so favourable discussion, a first, on the anniversary of his death.

 

…and finally, onHamlet’s hats.

 

José Arroyo

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