Mahmoud was part of the armed groups coerced by the Egyptian Government which carried out attacks on protestors in Tahir Square the 2nd of February 2011. Since then, Mahmoud has lost his ...
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Mahmoud was part of the armed groups coerced by the Egyptian Government which carried out attacks on protestors in Tahir Square the 2nd of February 2011. Since then, Mahmoud has lost his job, been subjected to humiliating treatment, and been ostracized by his own community that live close to the Pyramids. He and his family are close to despair when he meets Reem, a secular young Egyptian divorcee and modern-thinker who works in advertising. Reem is a fervent ecologist who lives in a wealthy neighbourhood of Cairo. This will be the encounter of two people but also of two different worlds.Written by
MK2 Productions [fr]
Sometimes context can enrich a movie watching experience. In the case of the Egyptian movie After the Battle, context is everything. It's everything to the extent that the movie, its characters its events and its cinematography are all dependent on knowing about a place in time. Additionally the clear and broad emotions therein, the anger, the disappointment, the resentments all comes boiling over in this film with the fervor of a witch's cauldron. After the Battle is not a good movie but it is a decent snapshot.
The film takes place during the Arab Spring – specifically between the events of the February Tahrir Square protests in Cairo, Egypt and the Maspero television building protests along the Nile on October 9, 2011. To democratically minded Egyptians, the summer of 2011 was a time of possibility. The secular forces that initially sparked the Egyptian Revolution were eager to run their own candidates in the first free and fair elections Egypt had ever had. But to laymen like horseman Mahmoud (Samra), the revolution has only given him hardship and thrown his community into chaos and confusion.
Earlier that year, Mahmoud and his fellow horsemen attacked the protesters at Tahir Square to, in his own words "protect their livelihood." After the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, the rest of the horsemen have stayed quiet and apolitical. But because Mahmoud had fallen off his horse and gotten his face on TV, the rest of his community has ostracized him and his family. Thus Mahmoud is forced to depend on a modern-thinking divorcée and passionate young turk named Reem (Shalabi) to get him and his family out of the rut they're in.
The film is a feral mix of On the Waterfront (1954)-type melodrama and Danton (1983) level political posturing, with a little bit of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) mixed in for effect. It goes about as good as you'd expect from a film that lends the tale a cinema verite intimacy that pays more attention to arms flapping about than real emotional payoffs. What's more, the movie touches on many fault lines in Egyptian culture and the body politic but never develops any of them beyond being window dressing. Thus the melodrama intensifies and intensifies without bringing any new dimensions to the story.
As the film intensifies, the believability of the characters diminishes to the point of everyone looking like stock-types. Mahmoud is a simpleton in need of political awakening. Reem never internalizes her own hypocrisy and instead becomes a do-gooder nuisance. There's the feckless crony capitalist, the besmirched wife, the ambivalent working-stiff – heck if Maxim Gorky gave this script a look he'd throw it out as a work of amateurism; socialist realism – more like socialist soap.
Yet one can't help but imbue After the Battle with the slightest bit of value despite its faults. The film was released in its native Egypt in the fall of 2012, just after the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood backed Mohamed Morsi as President. Within the span of its production, After the Battle saw the idealism and socio-economic flux of the post-revolution era morph into something ugly, something intolerant and ultimately something undemocratic.
Thus when I say After the Battle is a decent snapshot, I mean that it captures the simplistic zeal of the revolution while unknowingly (though their treatment of Mahmoud) pointing towards it failures to address the problems of the everyday Egyptians. It's almost by default that this film ends up being the best movie of its type since Memories of a Mexican (1950). That still doesn't mean it's worthy of a recommendation though historians may have to take note for the sake of recording the whims of the moment.
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