Yussef is one of the masters of Egyptian Cinema, and I think he got himself a good reputation abroad, specially in France and Russia. He was always criminally ignored by Hollywood, though he studied Cine art in NY. However, he developed this Fellini complex recently. He keeps talking about his youth, his sexual complexes, his relations with parents, his study of Cinema, conflicts with the totalitarian governments.. etc. Yussef comes from a very marginal society in Alexandria, being Catholic (most of Egyptian Christians are Orthodox), from a fairly rich family, being educated at Victoria college. Till now his Arabic language is not perfect. From this marginal area he tries to give us a very complex panorama of the Egyptian society during WW II, when Germans were about to conquer Alexandria, and the British were about to flee. Some Egyptians thought that Romel would be their liberator from the British occupation. Here, you find a complete mess from Egyptian Islamists (Muslim brothers), Jews, communists, aristocrats, Catholics, British soldiers, Nazis ... etc... Very complex that U spend 1 hour trying to figure anything... U got only 3 seconds for every character to understand his attitude and problem. Then, in the second hour, things get better and U begin to appreciate this director. The movie gets emotion and U care for characters...
The final shot shows Miss Liberty while the young man stands on board on his way to US to study Cine art. Then we see Miss Liberty's face closer and we discover it's the face of a prostitute heavily covered with make-up, and she laughs loudly and obscenely. This summarizes his memories about his USA experience. Americans won't like this scene, but they will like it in East Europe and Russia. My opinion is that Mr Shahin is a genius film director, but is a very bad script writer. However, it's impossible to convince him otherwise because he has always done what he thought was right, and he is 80 now ... No hope for change !
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