Many Faces of Youssef Chahine
More celebrated abroad than in his own country, Youssef Chahine tried every film genre, from historical epic to musical comedy. The Egyptian director, who died on Sunday, 27 July 2008 in Cairo, received the lifetime achievement award on the fiftieth anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.
His last film Chaos, released in 2007, criticizes the Egyptian autocracy, its plot unfolding in the working-class district of Shoubra in Cairo. Hatem, a corrupt policeman, is an embodiment of the drift of a country plagued by corruption at all levels. He rules the district with shrewd craftiness. Only Nour, a young woman he covets, dares to stand up.
Silence . . . on tourne [Silence, We're Rolling], a dramatic comedy released in 2001, tells the story of Malak, a rich singer, who falls under the spell of a young arriviste. In this film, Chahine gives an important place to music, the pillar of Egyptian cinema.
In one of his major films Destiny, first shown in theaters in 1997, Chahine drew on the work of Arab philosopher Averroes to condemn intolerance and religious fanaticism.
The original article in French appeared in Le Monde on 27 July 2008. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.