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The last film in Youssef Chahine's autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy stars Chahine himself as his cinematic alter ego, Yehia Mourad, completing his merging of fiction with real life and drama with psychodrama. Opening with Chahine's triumph at the Berlin Film Festival, where he took home the Silver Bear for Alexandria...Why? (the first film in the trilogy--this is layered stuff), the film explores Yehia's obsession with his young star, Amir, while participating in the general strike of 1987. As Yehia fantasizes about the films they would make together (one of them looks like a loony take on Jesus Christ Superstar), he elevates Amir from a kind of adopted son to cinematic messiah. But while caught up in the strike, Yehia becomes enchanted by a former actress turned dedicated revolutionary, and he decides to cast her in his next feature.
While this is a serious portrait of art, politics, and aesthetic inspiration, it's also a deliriously playful film full of fantasies played out like Hollywood movies. One of the loveliest moments is an old-fashioned song and dance in which the two men celebrate their Silver Bear in a snowy German street like a scene out of Singing in the Rain, while his grand daydream of an ancient Egyptian historical epic takes an unexpected turn into Keystone Cop slapstick. The mix of whimsy and wizened reflection is infectious in Chahine's exploration of the muses and visions that drive his art. --Sean Axmaker
This complicated and surreal autobiographical film, explores the personal life and fantasies that have shaped the motion pictures of Youssef Chahine. Taking a stand for democracy, Yehia (Chahine's on-screen alter ego) joins a hunger protest which has rallied together the entire Egyptian film industry. As the strikers mount their demands, the director becomes overwhelmed by his infatuation for Amir, the young actor whose career he launched with the film Alexandria...Why? But this obsession is soon overshadowed by his interest in Nadia, the beautiful inginue whom he decides to cast in his next feature.
The final chapter of Chahine's Alexandria Trilogy: Alexandria...Why?, An Egyptian Story and Alexandria Again and Forever.