Since its inception, the Egyptian cinema has always been one of the most prolific and esteemed film industries in the Middle East. Being such a prominent hub in the chronicles of Arabian art had the legacy of our local films become bristled with plenty of acclaims as well as innovative motifs and ground-breaking records, yielding a myriad of time-transcending classics.
Ensued from the savviness of our filmmakers, and bolstered by our nation’s unparalleled affection for film, several vintage movies have scored attainments that resonated with the masses for decades, not to mention the feats of some other newer films that had their dazzling records stand out. Today, we scope 5 Egyptian flicks that have stepped up the game and raised the bar high, making history upon their theatrical release.
1- Aby Fawq El-Shagara
Not only is 1969’s Aby Fawq El-Shagara considered as the ultimate summer flick for its flamboyance and liveliness, but it’s also regarded as the most popular Egyptian film of all time, having been screened in local theatres for a dazzling 53-week period, which is more than a whole year! Such a lengthy interval was unprecedented in the history of Egyptian cinema, and no other film has managed to clinch a similar record except Soad Hosny’s Khalli Balak Men Zozo 3 years later. The film features some of Abdelhalim Hafez’s most amiable tunes, and conveys jubilance through top-notch choreographies, portraying the finest performances ever presented in an Egyptian musical.
2- Bayn El-Qasreen
Although sequels are quite scarce in Egyptian cinema, it was Naguib Mahfouz’s Bayn El-Qasreen that paved the way for the very first Egyptian sequel to come to light. Known for its renowned portrayal of the social statuses and the common demeanors of the Egyptian citizenry in the early years of the 20th century, the cinematic adaptation of Bayn El-Qasreen was warmly received by the audience back in 1962. Such acknowledgements had the film’s creators opt for conveying the novel’s sequel to the cinema, yielding 1966’s Qasr El-Shooq. Following the steps of its prequel, the release of Qasr El-Shooq was met with positive feedback, which was later utilized to shoot the series’ definitive sequel, 1973’s El-Sokareyah, to conclude Egypt’s first cinematic trilogy.
3- Tharthara Fawq El-Nile
On the back of the sorrowful downfall of 1967, Egyptians were discontent, cynical and in a prevalent state of despair, which negatively impacted all the aspects of life during that interval. Mimicking the hardships of the society, several artistic projects had their say in portraying that era, but no other film has managed to gallantly render the awry manners and the ethical downfalls of that period like 1971’s Adrift On The Nile. As it examines the impact of 1967’s happenings on its 9 main characters, the film delves into the social outcomes that ensued from 67’s military defeat, putting our citizenry on the stand and holding them accountable for their blatant doings. In addition to being one of the grittiest Egyptian films of all time, the film was crafted with great attention to details; brimmed with meticulous dialogues and astounding acting performances, which had it ably document that period and become its finest cinematic reference.
4- Kelmet Sharaf
One of the most fascinating pillars of movies is the influence they have on individuals, given that films could reshape people’s lives and beliefs. However, the impact of such industry surely culminates when it influences palpable changes on the ground, altering real-life rules and laws as has happened with Farid Shawky’s Kelmet Sharaf. Shedding light on the predicaments of oppressed prisoners, the film is centred on a protagonist who’s wrongly convicted of a crime that he didn’t commit. As it progresses, the film highlights his struggles as he arduously tries to make contact with his wife to convince her of his innocence, to no avail. Such plot did draw the authorities’ attention to that matter, which induced major amendments in the law of prisons back in the seventies, allowing prisoners to visit their families under some specific conditions, especially if their relatives suffer from disabilities.
The financial aspects are the quintessential block of any business, and the film industry is no exception. Despite the fact that the production budgets of our flicks are still quite inferior to those of the foreign flicks, the earnings have taken a turn for the better in the last couple of years with the presence of quality local films every season. Such grosses have reached its zenith with the release of Tamer Hosny’s El-Badla last year, which, after amassing EGP 67 million in the box office, has attained a new record by becoming the highest-grossing Egyptian film of all time, outclassing Harb Karmouz and El-Khaleya. These figures signify the rise of the demand on local films, and with the commencement of the impending cinematic seasons, the aforementioned record is even expected to be surpassed in the coming months.