Here Are 3 Egyptian 80s’ Movies That Convey Important Messages

Media is one of the most powerful tools of influence to the point that it was described by Thomas Caryle as the ‘fourth pillar of democracy’. The way media, especially film, can flip around elections, ideas and societies is enough proof of how powerful it is. No one can ever forget that the Jihan El-Sadaat’s Decree was released after she watched Orid Hallan (I Want a Solution) [Said Marzouk], changing the personal status law and eventually allowing women to divorce men. There are many pre-2000 movies that convey important messages that are, unfortunately, still relevant today.

  1. Malaf Fi Al-Adab (A File With the Morality Police) [Atef Eltayeb]

This movie, starring Madiha Kamel, walks us through set-up prostitution case for a group of friends that marks their life for eternity, highlighting how the verdict of the people, who almost always never know enough about the case, is permanent and forever, especially if the accused in question is a woman. Here’s a direct, translated, quote from Malaf Fi Al-Adab:

“No, no! I don’t need your verdict of innocence! This is only a legal verdict, and not a social verdict. I’m free from the state prisons, which start and end somewhere, but I’m not free of the social prison. Everywhere is going to be a prisonーthe street is going to be a prison and the bus will be a prison. Every word and every look (shaming me) would feel like being whipped. Your verdict of innocence doesn’t bring me back my honor. They all heard the verdict, but no one believes it. On paper, I’m innocent. However, to people, I’m the immoral Madiha who was arrested by the morality police.”

You can find the movie on YouTube.

  1. Afwan Ayoha Alqanoon (Please, Law, Excuse Us) – [Inas Al-Digheiry]

Before we even start, to have a movie directed by a woman in the mid 80s that was such a success is something. Women directors were constantly belittled in the 80s, especially in the Arab World. I can’t imagine what Ms Al-Digheiry must’ve gone through to get the direction position in a movie that had major starsーMahmoud Abdelaziz, Naglaa Fathy and Farid Shawky.

The movie tells the story of the star-crossed lovers, Hoda and Ali. On their marriage day, Hoda discovers that Ali was keeping a secret from herーAli was sexually dysfunctional. This was the first movie I’ve ever seen with the male main character being sexually dysfunctional, and it shed so much light on the stigma around male sexual disability. It made me really think, do men define themselves by their sexual abilities? Anyway, the movie develops and bombs drop, and it’s suddenly Ali against Huda in the courtroom, with Ali’s father (Farid Shawky) representing society’s views on male cheaters and femicide. Ms Al-Digheiry drew an accurate picture of domestic violence and infidelity in our society that still stands today, thirty-six years later.

You can find the movie on YouTube.

  1. W La Azz’a Lel Sayedat (No Consolation for the Women) – [Henry Barakat]

Starring Fatten Hamama, Gamil Ratib and Ezzat El-Alily, this movie tells the story of a divorced woman who decided to live alone and fend for herself. You see it all: society’s judgement and control, from family and strangers alike. This is one of the few movies that truly discussed and showcased what it’s really like living as a divorcee, and how each member of society takes it upon themselves to judge you and never listen to you.

I’d like to take a moment and wish peace upon Faten Hamama because this woman never took a role that did not stand up for what she believed in. Rest in peace and power, always. Orid Hallan, Laylat Elkabd Ala Fatima and La Azz’a Lel Sayedat — all great masterpieces brought to life by a great being.

You can find the movie on YouTube.

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