Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Land (1969) - (Youssef Chahine)

The Land (1969) - (dir: Youssef Chahine) Egyptian one-sheet

This film, based on a novel by Abdel Rahman al-Sharqawi, took 8 years to complete and was voted the the best Egyptian film of all time in a poll of Egyptian film critics; it is also on Ahmad Al-Hadari's 2007 list of the 100 most important Egyptian films. It featured the debut performance of actor Ali El Cherif. The film is about rural feudalism and depicts the struggle of peasants in a small village against a landowner's abuses.

Plot Summary: In the 1930s when the Egyptian farmer was victimized by the both the men in the government and the feudal lords, the feudal lord Mohammad Bey governed the destinies of the farmers in his village. He tried to irrigate his land as much as possible for its cultivation, but he only allowed the farmers to irrigate their lands for ten days. However this was not enough for the feudal lord and he soon reduced this to five days. He then went further and took a piece of farmer land to allow for the construction of a secondary road that would connect to his splendid palace from the main road. The farmer Abou Swelem [Mahmoud El-Meliguy] lamented "the people need land, the land needs water, the water needs connections, connections mean a palace, the palace wants a road and the road has its victims; we always are the ones who pay. That's the story of our lives with Mohammad Bey and the story of our forefathers with his." Interwoven with this complex tale of land grabs and deprivation of the poor are romantic rivaries and political intrigues. This is an epic film giving a broad overview of Egypt's classic lines of conflict and tension between rural farming folk, upper classes and political elites.

Cast and crew: Youssef Chahine, Hamdy Ahmed, Yehia Chahine, Ezzat El Aliali, Tewfik El Dekn, Mahmoud El-Meliguy, Salah El-Saadany, Abderrahman Charkawi, Ali El Cherif, Nagwa Ibrahim, Abdel Rahman El-Sharkawi, Hamdy Ahmed, Abdel Rahman El Khamesy, Hussein Assar, Abdel Waress Assar, Nabila El Sayed, Hussein Ismail, Abdelhalim Nasr

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