Biography of Yussef Chahine (1926-2008)

Film director born in Alexandria (Egypt) on January 25, 1926 and died in Cairo, July 27, 2008.


Born into a well-to-do family of Lebanese Catholic descent, Chahine won in the mid-1940s a scholarship to study drama in the United States. On his return to Egypt in 1948, it was in the world of cinema where he found greater professional opportunities, worked as Assistant Director on several films, and soon debuted as a filmmaker with the support of the veteran Alvise Orfanelli.

His first films are commercial products with some charm, but still far from its subsequent constant themes and stylistic. Only Siraa fil wadi and Siraa fil minaa, melodramas-edged social starring the popular couple Faten Hamama / Omar El-Sharif and perfect exponents of realist nasserist Government-sponsored films reveal the competence of Chahine. But, after a brief musical interlude (with a very mediocre film, Wadaat hubbak, and another on the other hand very inspired, Anta habibi), Chahine rolled which is probably his masterpiece and one of the peaks of the Egyptian cinema of all time, Bab Al-Hadid. Costumbrista fresh extraordinary from the microcosm of central Cairo station - but also an incisive study on sexual repression in the society Egyptian-, the film marks the top of the realistic tradition of Egyptian cinema, which however Chahine soon abandoned to opt for formally more elaborate and politically more incisive films.

Aside from cyclical works as Gamila to el-gazairiya, early approach to the war in Algeria, or An-Nasir Salah ad-Din, historical film that actually becomes a nothing veiled metaphor for exaltation nasserist (and in another order of things, from its splendid adaptation of the eponymous novel by Abderrahman Cherkaui: to el-ard), that is certainly the case of Al - usfur, another of his major works, complex inquiry into the responsibilities in the defeat of 1967 which could not but raise blisters on Egypt. Much more cryptic, to el-ijtiyar share this reflection on their country's recent past, than Presentación lih? he prefers to address a more autobiographical perspective. Thereafter, Chahine gave continuity to that autobiographical vein with a somewhat uneven films like Hadduta misriya or Presentación kaman wa kaman, but did not go back on the steps of the historical blockbusters: If Wadaa Bunabart is an original look on the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt, el-muhager flirts awkwardly with the peplum, and to el-massir concealed under the clothing of a biography of Averroesa furious settling of scores with Islamic fundamentalism. Even if none of these works is really at the height of their great titles of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Chahine remains the most prestigious and well-known Egyptian filmmakers: in 1997 it received a Palme d'Or honors for his entire career at the Festival de Cannes.

He died on July 27, 2008 in Cairo because of a cerebral haemorrhage, after spending six weeks in a coma in a Paris hospital.


Short films

1967: Aid al - Mayrun. 1972: Salwa au en-tifla allati tatahadaz bad baqr. 1974: Intilaq.1991: Al - Qahira. 1995: Lumière and company [an episode]. 1998: Silence, on tue / Lumières sur une massacre [an episode].

Feature films

1950: baba Amin. 1951: Ibn an-Nil. 1952: at el-muharrig el-Kabir; Sayyidat to el-qitar. 1953: Nisaa bila rigal. 1954: Siraa fil-wadi; Shaitan as-sahra. 1956: Siraa fil minaa; Wadaat hubbak. 1957: Anta habibi. 1958: Bab al - Hadid; Gamila to el-gazairiya. 1959: Hubb ilal abad. 1960: Bain aydik. 1961: Nidaa to el-ushaq; Ragul fi hayati. 1963: An-nasir Salah ad-Din. 1964: Fagr yaum gadid. 1965: Bai to el-jawatim. 1967: As an idol of sand. 1968: to el-ard. 1970: An-nass wa an-Nil; Al - ijtiyar. 1972: to usfur. 1976: Audat to el-ibn az-zal. 1978: Presentación lih?. 1982: Hadduta misriya. 1985: Wadaa Bunabart. 1986: to yaum as-sadis. 1990: Presentación kaman wa kaman. 1994: to muhager. 1997: to el-massir.