This film is far better than its ranking here.....
I was quite impressed with "Alexandria, Why?" It is just the second film I've seen from Egyptian master Youssef Chahine, but I can already see why many scholars have praised his work tremendously. This film captures both its' time and setting quite eloquently. It is clearly inspired by Italian neo-realism and uses dubbing as many Italian films of the yesteryear have so often done. The film is perhaps an autobiographical one as it depicts a young man in World War II Egypt who wants to immigrate to California and become a filmmaker. I sense the reason this film is so rated so poorly here is because it has a production value which is very minimal in scale. You realize that many shots are shot in a studio and backdrops, particularly ones with the Meditterranean shore, are ones from stock footage. This is something which is more often in B-movies from the '60s here. But, I am sure this was due to inherent financial limitations which Chahine had too work around. If one compares this film with ones from Turkish and Indian films made in this era, it seems as though Chahine effectively utilized what he had. And, if you compare it with films from other African countries, like Senegal, well it seems like an MGM production! I imagine if George Lucas had the film's producer, these things would have been remedied but as it is, very little artistic integrity is compromised here. We are drawn into the characters' lives and we are captivated by their struggles too find love and freedom. In the end, some things are sacrificed too achieve one desire over another and thus we are left with the brutal reality of the immigrant experience. And, the result is one sterling film which suggests that if an artist truly believes in their work, they can achieve the same artistic merits as filmmakers from more developed nations.
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