Saladin, ruler of the kingdoms surrounding the Latin state of Jerusalem, is brought to attack the Christians in the Holy Land by the sacking of a convoy of Muslim pilgrims, a group which ... See full summary »
Mohamed Abdel Gawad,
Tewfik El Dekn
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Well this is certainly an oddity if ever there was one, the first, and quite possibly only, Italian/Egyptian co-production, with an appropriate budget.
It would appear that there were two versions of the film shot simultaneously, one using an all-Egyptian cast-which is the only one currently available and the one reviewed here, and another version using the more familiar likes of Pampanini and Lulli in the leads but retaining the Egyptian supporting cast.
Don't let the title put you off, while there is mention of the Islamic religion and the female lead is named Jihad (solely so she can stand on a rock during the final battle shouting "to Jihad" it would appear), this is far less preachy and in your face about it's religion than many American and Italian productions like, say, Ben-Hur.
The storyline is downright ridiculous, but enjoyably so, mixing real-life events and characters with a couple of royal offspring, Jihad and Mahmoud, branded and sold into slavery as children for their own safety, then rediscovered years later as adults by the now blind protector who first sold them.
When the wicked Sultana Shagrat al-Durr (Cariocca) and her equally obnoxious suitors are assassinated in succession the throne is left open for Mahmoud (Mazhar) to conveniently step in just as the Mongols (here referred to throughout as taters!) are about to invade-an authentic event dating from 1260.
The Egyptian DVD release has been nicely restored, though the letterboxed print is slightly condensed, and it does contain English subtitles.
The acting is, for the most part, more controlled than in other Egyptian films of the period that I've seen, but still works better today for a western audience as camp comedy than historical tale.
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