The second of Youssef Chahine's autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy takes place largely in the mind of Chahine's cinematic alter ego, Yehia Mourad (Nour El Cherif), or, to be more accurate, his torso. Rushed into emergency... more » open-heart surgery after an on-set heart attack, Yehia is put through a fantasy trial in a courtroom situated in his rib cage (a rather theatrical-looking contraption of white sheets draped over wooden ribs) as he flashes back on his life. Chahine embraces the absurdity of the silly device with fanciful fun (his inner child rebels against the stodgy grownup by crawling through his veins and undoing the surgery) but it's the flashbacks that carry the film's power. Think of it as Chahine's All That Jazz, only less flashy and more thoughtful. The young director struggles within the industry, sacrificing his vision and his politics in commercial compromises, sacrificing his family for his art, still dreaming of Hollywood while toiling in the low-budget environs of Egypt.Fans of Chahine will recognize startling re-creations of two of his most famous films, Cairo Station and The Sparrow, but you don't need to know his work to feel the strain of his conflicts. Inspired by his real-life bypass surgery and the self reassessment it triggered, Chahine is more critical than you might expect; he forgives himself his sins, naturally, but never quite lets himself off the hook. Followed by Alexandria Again and Forever, which stars Chahine himself as Yehia. --Sean Axmaker« less
"I am going to divide my review to three parts, the basic reproduction / packaging, the subtitles and last the actual art:The basic reproduction is good in comparison to any other Egyptian movies you can buy. Good is by no means very good nor excellentThe subtitling is very poor. It is very clear and will help keep non-Arabic speakers in the game, but it is seriously inaccurate and in my view often distorts the meaning of the movie. I was particularly amazed to see things like "damn you all" being translated into "fxxk you all". It is truly absurd to subtitle anger into profanityAs to Youssif Chahine own work, it is very clever, at times way too clever. The symbolism goes to the extreme that you just end up going in circle. See how clever and symbolic I can beThe presentation of the gay side of Mourad is certainly brave, but does not seem to be much more than a "dare" game, often it is unclear why it is there and what impact does it have on the whole thing, except for possibly the middle filmAs to the camera work, direction, music, acting etc. it is all excellent, well above anything else coming out of Egypt in the last 25 years or so. The real shame is to be the only really good moviemaker in Egypt and to use this to make such narrow movies with too much symbolism.At any rate, make no mistake about it this is great stuff"
Artistic and insightful
Isis S. Mikhail | Birmingham, Alabama USA | 03/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the second part of Chahine's Alexandria Trilogy. The first part "Alexandria, why?" is a biography and courageous self-examination of his adolescent years. This part moves on to examine his adult life. It is, again, a very courageous, honest, and insightful self-trial of himself as an adult and his choices in his professional life as a movie director, as well as in his personal and family life. His artistic talents as a director and his creative thinking are reflected in his representation of his turbulent relationship with his inner child. This is another distinguished piece of work by this talented movie director and a must-have for those who appreciate his art."
Mix of styles worth your time
Isis S. Mikhail | 07/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An interesting mix of the struggles of an independent international filmmaker, combining surrealism and recent Egyptian history.
There are elements of "8 1/2" and "All That Jazz" in the story of a film maker who faces a trial in which the child and young man he was testify against the person he has become. The surrealist settings are cheap but fun and the central performance is nicely done. The many characters and switches in time are a bit complex and it helps to have a little knowledge of modern Egyptian history, but there is humor and insight worth your time."
One of the best contemporary of the Egyptian cinema
tycoonsherif | Cairo Egypt | 09/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This trilogy is one of the best contemporary movies of the last 2 decades....with the very special touch of acclamed director Yousef Chahin.The cast of all 3 movies is great with outstanding preformence the crew is the most respected & professional poeple in the field...Therfore making theese 3 movies a must see & see again for any cinema lover. If u like arabic cinema....u must own it."
A magic carpet ride that is exotic, romantic and realistic
Maeve of Tara | Ireland | 01/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For now I can only write a few lines, it's 10.29 PM ET, here in the United States of America, and I am sitting on the threshold awaiting 2005 to enter my life. And yes, this is what I did tonight, instead of going out to celebrate the new year, I stayed home and watched the Alexandria Trilogy, one after the other, 1,2,3.
Indeed this is the best, and only way, to watch such a rich, colorful, exotic series. I knew nothing of Youssef Chahine until about ten days or so ago, and am I ever so glad I heeded the reviews here, at amazon, and indulged my whim of renting his Alexandria Trilogy as well as two of his other films. The Trilogy is a keeper and I will purchase it soon, most likely after I finish watching Chahine's next two films, Destiny and The Emigrant. I will return to write a longer review because this series is worth it, and not only because of being exotic and romantic, but also, because it's educative. More of us Americans should watch foreign films... truly today's world is a global village. Happy New Year, y'all! Slainte."