By Mona Sharif
Back to the 1973 Arab world
While helping my mum cook dinner and trying to improve my (very poor) cooking skills, I told her I was looking for a movie that I would never consider watching and realized I never asked her what her favorite movie was when she was my age. I knew it was going to be an old (sorry mommy it’s not what I mean) romantic and very cheesy arabic film. In fact she replied ‘دمي ودموعي وابتسامتي’ which can be translated as ‘My blood, my tears and my smile’, a 1973 Egyptian iconic film in the Arab world.
SPOILERS Alert — here is a summary of the movie as I doubt you could find it with english subtitles.
Nahed was an attractive young woman living an unstable life of financial difficulties with her mother, her father and her brother, and she had an innocent romantic relationship with a fellow student named Essam. When a wealthy man named Salim asked her father for her hand in marriage, after much pressure from family and after finding that Essam was not willing to commit himself to a marriage, she agreed to go along, because Salim was willing to pay a bride price to her family large enough to save them from financial hardship. This meant she had to leave Egypt and her boyfriend to go to Lebanon to be with Salim in his opulent mansion. Salim turned to be a corrupt and abusive liar, so she divorced him and managed with great difficulty to get herself back to Egypt, to the great distress of her family. She then married an attorney named Mamdouh, who helped her getting rid of Salim but she soon discovered he wanted her as a trophy wife so he could get into a higher social position and even asked his own wife to be the mistress of powerful men to get advantages. Nahed became the mistress of a millionaire named Abbas, with whom she became an international traveler. Tired of men’s lies to use her, she rebelled by taking advantage of Abbas’ situation. After a few years she ran into Essam again, who was the only real love of her life and with whom she had experienced the only moments of purity she had ever known. By the time she saw Essam again, she had changed so much she knew she was was no longer the person he had once known and asked him to stay away. The memories of the happy relationship she had once had known with Essam were enough for her.
I was happily surprised. This movie highlights way deeper subjects than what I was expecting. It’s a window on the Arab world in the 1970s, showing traditions and hard realities such as the importance of money and social position in a time where the feminist movement was emerging in the Middle-east and especially in Egypt, just after the decline of the Nasserist regime. I also really liked the atmosphere of the movie, 1970s outfits, hairstyles and colourful house interiors were amazing. The film soundtrack was made by the great and very famous Lebanese composer/musician/songwriter/
Here is the link to the movie if you want to get an idea of its atmosphere, and hear the lovely Egyptian accent.