Tag Archives: Cairo as seen by Chahine

An Egyptian Perspective on the Cinema of Youssef Chahine Part IV

Hussein returns for a fourth episode to offer us a fascinating Egyptian perspective on the last epoch of Youssef Chahine’s career, beginning with Cairo as Seen By Chahine (1991) and talking us through The Emigrant (94), Destiny (1997), The Other (99). We also touch on The Choice (1970), Silence, on tourne! (2001) and other of his works, though they do remain peripheral to this particular discussion. Hussein offers us a historical and cultural perspective on these later works and also tells us about their reception in Egypt. At the end of the podcast, Hussein presents  us with an extended discussion on what he sees as recurring concerns in the cinema of Youssef Chahine: The first can be characterised as labour but is inclusive of Labour unions, the worker, the ‘ordinary person’, the downtrodden; another recurring concern, appearing sometimes as a main subject, sometimes as a throwaway is The Algerian War; lastly, a third major strand is the concern with travel, displacement, immigration, liminality: an exploration that takes on different shape within different films. We are very grateful to Hussein for fleshing out so many of these ideas for us, articulating them so clearly, and giving us many more things to think about when considering Chahine’s ouevre. 

The discussion on The Emigrant with Martin Stollery referred to in the podcast can be found here

Also, Hussein provides us with the following links referred to in the podcast:

The song from Destiiny

The song performed by Mounir just a few weeks ago on a popular Egyptian tv program
The emigrant sound track, one of Hussein’s favorites in any Chahine film
Enjoy!

José Arroyo

The Youssef Chahine Podcast No. 17: Cairo as Seen by Chahine/ Le Caire…raconté par Youssef Chahine

Cairo.as.Told.by.Youssef.Chahine.1991-SMz.00_00_57_08.Still002

An appreciation of Chahine’s short but great Cairo as Seen By Chahine. We discuss the film’s self-reflexiveness. How it’s aware of framing, composition, foreign expectations, relations and obligations concerning style and subject matter. How to film and evoke a city? How to do it with respect and love for its inhabitants? How to politely warn about dangers around, problems ahead and how to understand what drives desperate people there. We could have had a much longer discussion. But then, it would have been longer than the film.

The film was shot in Cairo between the 15th of January and the 23rd of February 1991.

Some of the clips discussed include the following:

A)Self-reflexiveness on framing and composition:

B) What foreigners expect to see in a film about Cairo:

c) Ruminations on a style that will please the critics:

D) Prayers and Show business:

E: Cinema and Film-going:

F: Trailer for Podcast:

and this one:

Richard has noticed a similarity/connection between the opening scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho:

and the scene where Chahine connects the whole city to people living together, to knowing and to love:

This ends too quickly but will give you an idea:

The film per se is available to see with e-s-t on Vimeo:

Samee3Lamee3, one of the very knowledgeable listeners of the podcast has illuminated the following points for us,  so very many thanks:

The film (within the film) is called “The Belly Dancer and the Politician” also the dialogue in the screened film is a very smart way for  Chahine to put the political element that portrays Egypt’s corrupt leaders

A few of them (the people in the film) are actual actors, like “Basem Samra” who did the sex scene. It was his first film and now he is a well established actor in Egypt. Only the shots of the streets and cafes were regular people.

His name is Khaled Youssef, he met “Joe” when he wanted to screen “The Sparrow” in his University. But the screening got them in trouble, they became friends and Joe convinced him that he would make a great director. So he mentored him and made him.

wrote “The other” and later films because he had political knowledge and many consider Khaled as the real director for “Chaos”. And Khaled has made many commercially successful films since then

José Arroyo