Saladin (1963) Poster


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A good film
nadir-1022 February 2007
I love films about the crusades.

When I saw this film some decades ago it was on German TV. Some days ago I saw the arab version with English subtitles. Thw whole thing gets interesting when its compared with the crusader film Kingdom of Heaven. - Both films declare that they are extremely outnumbered by the other side (Saladin: 120.000 christians against 40.000 arabs / Kingdom of Heaven: 250.000 arabs against 50.000 christians). Both is wrong. There were 35.000 christians fighting 50.000 arabs. - In the Kingdom of Heavon it was shown correctly that Rainard was executed by Saladin (and not killed in an horoable duel). So one fault to the Saladin film. - In the Kingdom of Heavon film on the other side it was shown that Saladin was forced by the excellent Christian defense to ask the city of jerusalem to surrender. In history Jerusalem didn't make such a heroic defense and was taken easily by Saladin. He was so generous to offer the christians to leave the city and avoid slavery - that was shown correctly in the Saladin Film and very bad in the Kingdom of Heaven film.

Considering the fact that the Saladin-film was made in the 60ties, I can only come to conclusion that its an excellent film and I have great respect for the directors and actors of this film.

It was a pleasure to see this film again.
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Walter Scott meets Nasser-era Arab nationalism...
DrMMGilchrist4 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
'El Naser Salah el Dine' is a curious blend of Nasser-era pan-Arab nationalism with plot- elements and characterisations derived from the works of Walter Scott. It is not Islamist in approach: the fictional romantic hero, like the director and co-writer Youssef Chahine, is an Arab Christian, and is named 'Issa' - 'Joshua'/'Jesus' in Arabic. (He is played by Salah Zulfikar.) He is *very* loosely inspired by a historical 'Issa the Swimmer' - in the same way that Ridley Scott's 'Balian' is by the real one. (The name and one attribute are taken from history... and um, that's all! At least there's an excuse that less is known about Issa the Swimmer!) As he explains to the Frankish heroine, Louise de Lusignan (Nadia Lutfi), his loyalty is to his fellow-Arabs, across religious differences. Like 'Kingdom of Heaven' (2005), the film imposes a positive ideology of toleration and peaceful cross-cultural links, all very worthy in modern times, but *nothing* to do with 12C attitudes; in this case, it reflects a secular Arab nationalist ideology. It is never mentioned that Saladin was not an Arab, but a Kurd, and Issa claims, "Jerusalem has always been an Arab land". The depiction of the situation of the Arabs under Frankish rule is clearly intended to echo that of the modern Palestinians. Walter Scott-derived components, perhaps from Chahine's education at a British-run school, include the negative characterisation of Conrad of Montferrat, Louise being threatened with burning as a witch (straight out of 'Ivanhoe'), and Saladin, in person, tending Richard after he is shot with a poisoned arrow (from the 1954 Hollywood film adaptation of 'the Talisman', 'King Richard & the Crusaders', which this film resembles in some respects).

As with Western historical films, there are numerous inaccuracies in fact and characterisation. Guy de Lusignan is depicted as a peaceable elderly man, who wants to negotiate with Saladin, but is over-ruled by Reynaud de Châtillon: he was actually probably in his late 30s, and quite reckless in the 1187 campaign. Reynaud is depicted as being killed in a duel with Saladin: he was, in fact, summarily executed. Richard I (Hamdi Geiss) receives remarkably favourable treatment, partly through the influence of Scott; also, I suspect, because the film may have an agenda of repairing links with the UK, post-Suez. Philippe Auguste (Omar El-Hariri), meanwhile, is depicted as a villain, and is shown giving the order for the massacre of the prisoners from Acre - when in reality he had already set off home to France. It was actually Richard who was responsible for the massacre. Again, I think this reflects contemporary (1963) anti-French sentiment because of the war in Algeria. The siege of Acre itself is depicted as "a picnic" for the Franks, aided by a treacherous Arab governor: in fact, it lasted for 2-3 years, with hard fighting and many deaths (including those of the Queen of Jerusalem and her daughters) from disease in the camp. The hostile characterisation of Conrad of Montferrat - in reality respected by his Muslim contemporaries as a tough warrior and an intelligent diplomat with whom they could negotiate - is Walter Scott-based: Mahmoud El-Meliguy plays him as scheming and treacherous, much as Josef Schildkraut did in Cecil B DeMille's 'The Crusades' (1935) and Michael Pate in 'King Richard & the Crusaders'.

The female leads are both fictional, although one, the villainess (played by the voluptuous Leila Fawzi), is purportedly Reynaud de Châtillon's widow. She is named (surely ironically) Virginia, and depicted as bedding in turn all the movie villains - the treacherous governor of Acre, Philippe, Conrad, and the elderly Duke Arthur, Richard's fictional scheming adviser - in the hope of becoming Queen of Jerusalem! As is usual in the historical adventure genre - in Western films also - she pays a high price for her intrigues, although she seemed to me the most interesting character. Louise is a more conventional winsome romantic lead: again, as is typical in the genre, she is on the other side, but has to be persuaded of the superiority of the hero's cause, and won over. Less conventionally - and rather implausibly - both young women are depicted as donning mail and fighting in battle (although Louise gives this up, for fear of confronting her beloved Issa in action). Louise is, in fact, depicted as an officer of the Hospitallers! (While there were Hospitaller sisters, they were nurses, not fighting members of the Order, and as nuns, romantic involvements would not have been approved.)

'El Naser Salah el Dine' is a very colourful film, and strikes me as a lightweight period adventure in much the same vein as DeMille's 'The Crusades' or 'King Richard & the Crusaders'. In the same way as DeMille, it tries to be portentous and 'deep', but isn't, and only the political baggage is different. The armour and costumes are no more authentic than in Hollywood, and the blond and auburn-wigged Arab actors as Franks are certainly no more or less odd to the eye than Rex Harrison in brown make-up as Saladin in 1954 Hollywood! (While both the leading ladies are attractive, the only really good-looking man in the film is Saladin, played by Ahmed Mazhar.) However, where this film has the edge is some interesting cinematography: use of stills-montage, and a very effective use of split-screen, evocative of mediæval manuscript painting, and cross-cutting during Louise's trial, to compare and contrast Saladin and Richard.

What surprised me most about the film, though, is how little screen-time Saladin himself has: the intrigues of the Franks dominate the narrative, much as in the related Western films. This is unfortunate: the intrigues and battles of his own rise to power are fascinating, although would require a less reverential treatment than is customary with historical heroes in Arabic cinema.
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A Must For Anyone Who Loves Foreign Films
nmlynn0026 March 2001
One of the greatest Egyptian and Arab movies of all time. It is a beautiful portrayal that is worthy of Salah al-Din. It shows Salah al-Din as the man he was, one of the greatest leaders of all time, a man at all times humble, who was able to unite a fragmented Arab world, and free it from its invaders. It is an enlightening film for most Westerners who only learn of the Crusades through traditional Orientalist views. It does a great job in eliminating typical stereotypes of the Arab world at the time, but is fair in its representation of both sides. The film shows the aggressiveness of the Catholic armies, but also the treachery and deceit that plagued the Arab world. It also treats Richard the Lion-Hearted with the respect he deserves, and the most spectacular scene is a split screen comparison of Salah al-Din and Richard, that shows how the men were so alike, but caught on opposite sides of a war. Fantastic film, a must see.
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Great film that holds up after almost 70 years
JimE-36-66852228 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Stumbled across this on Netflix on a lazy Sunday, at almost 3.5 hours it does require a commitment, but once you get into the film it does not take much to keep watching, although the film is in Arabic, there subtitles available so non-Arabic speakers can enjoy it as well, the cinematography is fantastic, the scale and scope is massive on par with epics like The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur.

The film shows the tolerance for Christians by the Arabs and the conflict and politics within the Christian camp. Saladin makes multiple offers of peace only to have them foild by the infighting within the Christian ranks.

If you like historical epics this is a must see.
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Review - El Naser Salah el Dine
thenolanfan10 January 2021
In response to the number of epic films produced in the 1950s and 1960s, Youssef Chahine took the genre and spun it at 180 degrees. He is attacking the imperialism ambitions of Europe and modifying our perception of the crusades.

Saladin even with a much smaller budget than American films has great production values. The battles are great, the music played by an orchestra conducted by Carlo Savina, an Italian composer and conductor who has worked with world-renowned directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Federico Fellini, and Roman Polanski, is rich. Furthermore, Saladin does more than ripping-off the aesthetical codes of American films. It experiments with cinematography and editing.

I would say that Chahine proves once again the richness of each nationality, their customs, and their talents.
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Wonderful, if rather dated for a modern audience.
Jim-24924 January 1999
Not only an extraordinary piece of epic filming, but also, in typical Youssef Chahine vein, a very humane view of territorial struggles and religious warfare. A remarkably pacifist outlook for 1963, preaching tolerance and honest diplomacy, decrying the crude pursuit of Glory at the expense of the lives of humble soldiers.
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An Egyptian Movie that Worth watching world wide
AS_KASSEM12 June 2005
I decided to write this review after I watched the movie Kingdom of Heaven I watched this movie about 10 times or so, and I'm ready to watch it again really great movie and gathers a lot of best actors in Egyptian cinema the story line is the original story of Salah Eldin and the crusades in Bayt EL-Makdes as documented in History The Movie shows the Human side of the great leader, the manners of Arabs specially in wars.

It Showed that although Salah El Din is Richard-Lion Heart's enemy but his principles refused him to accept to betray him and accept what August tried to offer him to retreat his troops and betray Richard Lots and Lots of situations and all lead to same result A real Great Movie
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One of the best movies ever
Don Juan-326 August 1999
El Nasser Salah ElDine is the true story about Saladdin, It reveals how Saladdin was one of the greatest leaders of all time.

Saladdin battled in order to gain Bayt El Makdes (Jerusalem), and he did not prevent the christians from visiting it at any time.

But false news is told to King Richard -Lion Heart- that Saladdin is torturing the christians and that he is preventing them from entering Bayt ElMakdes.

Then King Richard along with King of France and several other countries form a very vast army, that aims to free Bayt El Makdes from the rule of Saladdin. What will happen next.........You better see the movie.

Excellent performance by Ahmed Mazhar (Saladdin) and Hamdi Geiss (Richard Lion Heart) and very good directing by Yussef Chahine.

This movie is a must see.
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Must-see for anyone interested in history
elkhadem2 February 2005
The movie accurately demonstrates the true story behind the crusades and their attacks on the middle east. Salah El-Din leads the Egyptian armies to face the 3rd Crusade and recapture Palestine for the Arabs.

The good thing about this movie is its decent fighting sequences and special effects bearing in mind that it was produced in 1963. It also gives a good insight about Salah El Din who is known to the west as one of history's most noble kings. In the movie, the plot shows that Salah El Din too had a great deal of respect for Richard Lionheart of England.

One more interesting point is that the movie shows that Arab Christians were in fact suffering from the crusades and some of them fought side-by-side with the Muslims to defeat the crusaders; this is actually historically documented.
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Amazing epic
tookus14 December 2004
Unfortunately the times when these great historic movies where done in Egypt are long gone. Elnaser Salah el-Dine is one of those rare movies that were made with these production values in the Arab world and in the hands of Youssef Chahine has became sort of a legendary film at least in where it came from. Despite the fact that it relatively flopped in theaters partly because of how huge the production is and how little the theaters these days in the Arab world can cause profit it became one of the most loved and respected movies and watched by everyone when aired on television. Historically it didn't bring everything about the hero, that's not why it was made.... it depicted a certain section in the history of the crusades without looking at the roots of the characters because there's only so much you can show in a limited time motion picture. Anyways, the movie showed the nobility of the leader, the power of his faith, his distinguished skill in warship, and most of all his human side. There's a real reason for why he is seen as one of history's legendary warriors in the east and such a respected figure in the west as well..The movie did him justice there, and didn't drift away from being very entertaining. Frankly not many movies or series in the middle east can make you feel the period that it's supposed to be in, but this one doesn't distract you in thinking about that manner because it seemed so real, the way it should be. And on the other hand Chahine being a Christian himself diminishes the idea of the movie being biased against Christianity. An amazing movie I enthusiastically recommend to anyone...
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A Well Done Movie - About Nasser as much as Saladin
phalsall1 September 2001
It is interesting to see an Muslim movie about the Crusades, and this is generally well done. Some of the special effects are, however, a bit hokey.

It is not clear in the movie that Saladin was a Kurd rather than an an Arab. Instead he is presented as a hero for calling for Arab unity in the face of western colonialist intrusion.

In this respect director Chahine makes Saladin a prototype of Gamel Abdul Nasser in calling for Arab unity in order to expel the western intruders.
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A Yawn-inducing, Historically Irresponsible Film
jay-b-markson15 November 2006
Richard Lionheart's helmet appears to be a re-adapted funnel. That should give you an idea of the production values that went into this film. The characters are flat; the duologue is stale; the battle sequences are unimpressive; the history is twisted beyond recognition. At least three or four of the major characters are entirely made-up, and many of the others were twisted beyond recognition.

If you are interested in Arab propaganda from the Nasser period, you may find this film interesting. But it has nothing to offer other viewers besides a terrifically biased version of historical events. You would do better with 2005's "Kingdom of Heaven", which, for all its flaws (and there are many) at least did not make up historical figures for reasons of plot convenience.

I have no idea why viewers have rated this film so highly. 8.1? Get real.
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the_mount_eagle3 October 2007
Masterpiece in all the aspects of the word , first of all the production and direction are incredible for a movie of year 1963!! , the reality and the honest in historical facts ( for more about this historical period visit " " also it is not 100% fair ! ) if you want to know the complete story as happened then watch the movie. the movie is a citation of a period of Crusaders ( the unfair wars which made by west under the name of cross ) exactly it was The Third Crusade: 1189-1192 which led by Frederick Barbarosa, Richard I of England and Philip II of France , and the full details about this third attack is cited in this wonderful movie ( which is made for the sake of truth nothing else " the producer run out from money because such movies have no chance to be international because of anti-Muslims which don't want the modern westerners to know anything about the fact of Islam and Muslims , in other words they want everybody to think that these Muslims are the terrorists and that they are the danger for all the world ,but in fact Arabs and Muslim been victims for selfish of the west all the way
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Interesting but too much influenced by previous English-world movies / books
massisorer20 August 2020
Overall it is a nice and interesting film, the costumes looks quiet cheap sometimes but it's forgivable. Too bad the film has some non-historic anti-french propaganda (probably because of the influence of the British Walter Scott's works on the subject done in the 19th century), having caricatural vilains like that gives the film a bad taste.
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One of the best ever made
mimy39911 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
One of the greatest Egyptian and Arab movies of all time.

Excellent performance by Ahmed Mazhar (Saladdin) and Hamdi Geiss (Richard Lion Heart) and very good directing by Yussef Chahine.
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Great Film
thedjzeeshan8 November 2022
A very potray of Muslim Leader Saluddin Ayubi, saw this movie with English Subtitles, a very good casting everyone put a lot of effort. A very good leader with a good motto, Peace always needed and everyone should be allowed to praise their Lord/God/Allah as per their belief, imposing anything never wellfare any society.

King Richard and Salauddin actions towards peace at that time was a need of time.

I hope their should be some same understanding developed along the powerful people as whatever is happening now a days in Jeruselam, everyone's life is important and this story and history potrays this!
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Great movie
mahmoudelazab200317 May 2006
It is one of the Greatest movies I have ever Seen all over my life.

it clearly show the good relation between Moslems & Crestians & how the Moslems role Jureslam & area around it (muslims & Crestians )fairly & it show How this man was a legend in his method of thinking .

It show also his characteristics ;& his friends Moslems & Crestians How all of them love & respect him & how he gain his enemies Respect it show the real Moslems characteristics.

& it is the best film for Youssef Chahine the director.

he is also Crestian & the producer of the film also is Mrs Asia is Crestian . & she pay all her money on this Film balance . the movie is In color & with translation (English )subtitle. You should see it

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zaidmaslam8 August 2021
A very interesting film. Definitely feels like it was made in the sixties, but the dated production doesn't really hold the film back in my opinion. While modern epics have the budget to make everything seem realistic and this movie clearly did not, the intended message is always gotten across, and often quite creatively. This allows the movie to be enjoyed, and the ways in which production difficulties overcome on screen appreciated, as the film does not pretend to present its scenes as indistinguishable from reality. As a work of art it felt closer to a stage production, a similar story made today would devote unnecessary time and special effects to gory battle scenes that wouldn't advance the plot.

In its own world the story is quite good, almost excellent, and classic climax with the moral victory for the protagonists and the happy ending for the romantic leads may be cliche for viewers today, but is done very well and feels like the ending the story deserved. Especially liked how the romance between the two characters was not overdone, it allowed for the long awaited embrace at the end to carry more emotion.

While some historical inaccuracies are expected and can be understood, like the method of Reynalds death, it was disappointing to learn several major characters had been made up, especially as they were quite integral to the plot. And while the film is called Saladin, he does not feature too often. That may add to his mystique, but for a film named after him it is not told from his point of view.

Overall however the message is particularly important. Honour, truth, chivalry, and all the great codes of war are present as in most epics, but the movie also takes a stand against religious and colonial extremism, which is great to see and increasingly relevant till present day.
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One of the best ever made
maverick_mastermind15 November 2009
This movie is one of the best Egyptian made movies ever ..for me I rate it as no. 1 or 2 , but no one can deny it is listed in the top 20 list. Despite the western claims of historical bias and the poor production the movie is already appreciated by the Arab audience.The movie tells about the shameful acts of terrorism against the Arab people in the era of great crusades ,which of course is always denied by the peaceful crusaders and their descendants until now,and the Arab efforts and success to retrieve their own land.To really enjoy the movie, you have to know simple Arabic because most of the English and French subtitles are weak and doesn't completely match the script.If you are into fancy movies with big lights and tricky stuff , the movie isn't recommended , but if it's for a simple quality time , it's the movie to watch. Direction isn't the best of the movie and it gets even silly in a shot or two but the simple and elegant performance of most of the staff keeps you enjoying. If you want to watch a good historical movie without prejudging , watch it it's not a waste of time.
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A good film indeed.
sataricon27 November 2007
Now we start to see this as a real challenge to Kingdom of heaven. Why?

Historically the Muslims didn't know about siege towers as was shown in Kingdom of heaven mainly because the Muslims are more used to open fields of war so there was no necessity for too much siege engines.

It is true the the Chritsians when they entered El - Kods they killed most of the population. That's why it was very hard to see the majority of the inhabitants in Kingdom of heaven was dressed in Arabic style.

It's true that El Naser Salah el Dine has his own historical inaccuracy but it's far more better than trying to put through your mind that the Muslims had only Salah el Dine as a great leader....& that Salah el Dine is one of a kind for the Kingdom of heaven tries to show.
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