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Adrift on the Nile (1971)

Thartharah fawq al-Nil (original title)
Set against the backdrop of the 1967 Six-Day War, the movie adaptation of Naguib Mahfouz's novel follows the escapist, drug-fuelled riverboat meetings of a group of frustrated Egyptians from various walks of life.


Hussein Kamal


Najeeb Mahfouz


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Credited cast:
Magda El-Khatib ... Samara
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Adel Adham Adel Adham ... Ali
Ahmed Al Jaziri Ahmed Al Jaziri ... Abdou
Fathiya Ali Fathiya Ali
Mervat Amin ... Sana
Abdullah Bayoumi Abdullah Bayoumi
Zizi Fared Zizi Fared
Mahmoud Farid Mahmoud Farid ... Sumaa
Radwan Hafez Radwan Hafez
Imad Hamdi ... Anis Zaki
Mahmoud Hamdi Mahmoud Hamdi
Mahmoud Kamel Mahmoud Kamel ... Abu Sarie
Qadreya Kamel Qadreya Kamel
Anwar Madkour Anwar Madkour
Nimat Mukhtar Nimat Mukhtar ... Saniya Kamel


Set against the backdrop of the 1967 Six-Day War, the movie adaptation of Naguib Mahfouz's novel follows the escapist, drug-fuelled riverboat meetings of a group of frustrated Egyptians from various walks of life.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis









Release Date:

15 November 1971 (Egypt) See more »

Also Known As:

Adrift on the Nile See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?


The film was released during the era of Anwar Al Sadat the former President of Egypt, winner of Nobel Peace Prize, and was taken quickly from the market because the film was seen as a criticism of the Gamal Abdel Nasser socialism period, and the oppression of artistic films during Nasser's time when it was forbidden to make any film unless the rich were clearly portrayed critically while the poor had to be shown sympathetically. Anwar al-Sadat didn't want to upset the Egyptian people, some of whom still loved and respected Nasser. See more »


Performed by Carlos Santana
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User Reviews

An outstanding example of Egyptian cinema
27 August 2016 | by cool_metzSee all my reviews

A big part of Egypt's massive cultural output in the mid 20th century was its' literary output, most famously the novels of Naguib Mahfouz, who went on to win the Nobel Literature Prize. Adrift On the Nile was one of his most famous novels, written in 1966. It prophetically foresaw the Six Day War and painted a rather accurate picture of Nasserite Egypt. This movie adaptation was filmed five years after the book's release, in 1971.

The movie follows protagonist Anis Zaki, a former tutor and current civil servant who's only escape from everyday life and hardships is his supply of hash. A chance encounter with an old student - now a very successful handsome ageing leading actor - leads him to be quickly initiated into a group of fellow stoners who convene regularly on the actor's private riverboat on the Nile. Among them are a renowned thinker, a famous news critic, a struggling single working girl, and a student-turned-aspiring actress. The very cleverly scripted dialogue offers a snapshot and critique of Egyptian society in the late 1960's.

This movie presents some of the finest talents from Egypt's Golden Age of Cinema. Emad Hamdy's portrayal of Anis Zaki is truly Oscar worthy, and so was Adel Adham (who always played his supporting roles to perfection). Ahmed Ramzy excels at playing the ageing leading actor; I believe he based the character partly on himself (he was a dashing leading man in the 1950's and 60's, and by the early 70's his career was starting to wane).

My only concern with respect to non-Arab viewers is that whenever I watch the movie, the English subtitling is rather poor and leaves little of the original dialogue's beauty. Speaking as both a native English and Arabic speaker, I find the subtitling too literal, often bordering on cheesy. Regardless, I think this movie is a must watch and I think the actors' performances really transcend language.

I have seen this movie about 15 times since my teens. Every time, I sit through the entire movie, and it always feels fresh. It is also one of the finest films produced in Egypt and often makes its' way to Arab film festivals. Highly recommended.

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