Late Mahfouz Abdel Rahman - File photo Late Mahfouz Abdel Rahman - File photo

Profile: Mahfouz Abdel Rahman’s legendary cinematic life

Sun, Aug. 20, 2017
CAIRO – 20 August 2017: Egypt has lost legendary dramatic scriptwriter Mahfouz Abdel Rahman on Saturday, after suffering a brain stroke. Egypt Today sheds light on the works and achievements of the renowned screenwriter.

It is easy to write about the prizes he won, the praises he got from critics, but there is actually a personal incident that I gained access to through talks with him.

It is rare to produce a movie about an Egyptian president. Yet in 1996, the Egyptian TV screenwriter decided to produce a movie about Gamal Abdel Nasser, so he wrote the script. He was intelligent enough to choose the only non-controversial act of Nasser’s presidency which is the nationalization of Suez Canal in 1956, hence the movie was titled, ‘Nasser 1956.’

He added a very intelligent touch into the movie. It narrates the hundred days leading up to the decision to nationalize the Suez Canal and the initialization of the war defending Egypt’s sovereignty.

The movie was such a great success that it prompted Former President Hosni Mubarak to ask: “who is ruling Egypt: me or Nasser?” This was a clear signal to Mubarak’s staff that the former president desired a biographical movie, such as Saddam Hussein’s, even though the Iraqi president had been in power for sixteen years at the time.

Abdel Rahman was asked to write a script for a movie about Mubarak, but his reply was “No, that’s not an option, and Mubarak’s presidency has no glorious moments, his life is ordinary and dull, and Mubarak himself is not especially proud of his background.”

When contacted in 2002 by the president’s assistants, Abdel Rahman asked for documents of the former president’s achievement in the past ten years and he was granted access to them. Cleverly, he followed a wise old story and asked for ten years to write it. He said that in ten years one of three options will happen, “Either the president will die, or I will die, or he will be out of office”. True enough, by 2011 Mubarak was out of office.

Abdel Rahman was an art critic, drama writer, radio series writer and had his own school for creative writing. He employs in-depth research in his work, especially his historical series such as ‘Bawabet el Halwani’ (Halwani’s Gate), where he narrates in over one hundred and twenty episodes the digging of the Suez Canal.

He was the one that producers from all over the Arab world turn to when taking on a dramatizing historical event. He wrote the movie ‘Al Qadesya’ about the conquest of Persia by the Islamic armies in the Sixth century; ‘The Night Granada Fell,’ about sending the Islamic forces out of Spain in the Fourteenth Century, to name a couple. His legacy is much more than that and each and every one of his works is a landmark in TV drama, theater and cinema.
 
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