The Youssef Chahine Podcast No. 37: Beirut, Oh Beirut (Maroun Bagdadi, Lebanon, 1975)

We continue our little exploration of Middle-Eastern Films that connect to the work of Chahine. This discussion is on Maroun Bagdadi’s Beirut, oh Beirut, currently playing on Netflix. We discuss the beauty of the film. Richard connects it to late sixties Godard in style. I found it more moving and sad than what I remember of that period of Godard’s work. We discuss the film in relation to Chahine’s The Sparrow and to Al-Karnak. The film has a particular nostalgic feel, the depiction of buildings, landscapes, places and spaces for feeling that are soon to be destroyed, perhaps forever, and the way of live and set of dilemmas that this film documents just before they explode and are obliterated, so this poetic drama can also be read as a historical document, now imbued with sadness for what humans do to places once much loved.

The podcast can be listened to here:

The shot mentioned in the podcast that José was particularly impressed with was turned into a little ad for the podcast and can be seen here:

José also did a composite of all the nostalgia-evoking landscape shots of the city, and that can be seen here:

 

The exhibition at the Tate José refers to is Marwan Rechmaoui’s Beirut Caoutchou. Listeners.  Listeners might also be interested in  The Tate Papers ‘On the Politics of Art and Space in Beirut. 

Listeners might also be interested in seeing this video Richard mentions in the podcast, which references the film through its title, “Beirut Oh Beirut”.  It looks like the person filming livestreamed himself travelling around the damaged area of Beirut after the most recent explosion

In the podcast, Richard mentions how Netflix has dumped big collections of world cinema with no fanfare and no context, which on the one hand is great because its available to a wide audience, but on the other hand isn’t because nobody knows it’s there.

This shows the Lebanese films currently on Netflix (or at least, the ones where the production country is set correctly). (You can only find this stuff easily using an external site!)
There are three other Baghdadi films –
It’s worth pointing out that that’s the UK link, there is a version of flixable for other countries (fr.flixable.com etc) and the availability may differ by region.

José Arroyo

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