Tag Archives: Bab el hadid

Around The World In 100 Films – Egypt

List Item: Watch films from 100 different nations
Progress: 48/100

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 801/1007Title: Bab el hadid (Cairo Station)
Director: Youssef Chahine
Year: 1958
Country: Egypt

And now time to re-visit the challenge that I only appear to do once a year. I swear, once I am done with the 1001 movies list, I will focus more on this and start watching my way through countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Chile. Still though, at least the 1001 could give me Egypt for now.

In this period of film history you had some interesting changes in the style of movie making. In Italy and France, you had the rise of neorealism and new wave cinema whereas the U.S. was coming out of its noir phase whilst clinging to something a bit more melodramatic. In Cairo Station, you can see a film that is a halfway house between realism and noir.

This makes for an unusual combination as you have something that is focussed on the poorer denizens of Cairo scraping a living whilst also having a noir atmosphere and a very dramatic climax on the rail lines of the titular station. Honestly, the ending scene is spectacular and whilst there are sections beforehand that caused me to lose some focus at times, the ending more than made up for it.

For me the most interesting thing to see in this film, other than how the film movements from other nations were interpreted, was how a different culture was represented on screen. Albeit one that has changed dramatically in the 60 years since the film was made. If you ignore the Arabic writing, you could be well excused that you were watching an Italian or Spanish film from this era – which took me a bit by surprise.

I expect that it will be another year or so before I get to the final new country from the 1001 list – Phillipines. That is unless I have the sudden urge to watch The Missing Picture. Possible, but quite unlikely. I’ll get around to it eventually though.