Nasser film strikes chord
with the people of Egypt
October 24, 1996
Web posted at: 6:30 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT)
From Cairo Bureau Chief Gayle Young
CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- Forty years after Gamal Abdel Nasser
nationalized Egypt's Suez Canal, Egyptians are reliving the
historic event through a new movie, "Nasser 56," which has
taken Egypt by storm.
The black-and-white film depicts the tumultuous period of
1956 when the controversial leader stunned the world by
seizing the canal from its European owners, and declared it
Egyptian property. (49 sec. /2M QuickTime movie)
The movie uses actual newsreel footage to illustrate the
ensuing battle that pitted Egypt against Israel, Britain and
France. The superpowers suppressed the crisis, and Egypt
gained permanent control of the canal.
Its director says "Nasser 56" has struck a special chord
among Egypt's disenchanted youth.
"The Egyptian youth are in search of a feeling of superiority
and invincibility. The events surrounding the canal
represent, for the youth, true heroism," said director
Egyptians of all ages have embraced the movie, which delivers
memories of a time when Egypt was defiant and powerful.
Today, the country is beset by high unemployment and the
lingering malaise of widespread poverty. The movie has broken
every Egyptian box-office record.
Nasser is portrayed by actor Ahmed Zaki, widely regarded as
one of Egypt's sexiest leading men.
Nasser has long been a hero in the Arab world. However, over
the years many of his policies have been discredited, and his
reputation tarnished. There are those who criticize his
sympathetic portrayal in this film. "It shows him being kind
and loving when we have read otherwise," scoffed one
Despite such criticisms, "Nasser 56" has been such a hit that
directors are planning to churn out more movies depicting
famous Egyptians and historical events. For theatergoers, it
is a chance to slip back into time, when good and evil,
triumph and adversity, were black and white.
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