Monday, June 29, 2009

Al momia

The Night of Counting the Years. EG 1969 D+SC: Shadi Abdel Salam. ED: Kamal Abou El Ella; DP: Abdel Aziz Fahmi; DP: Salah Marei; M: Mario Nascimbene; CAST: Ahmed Marei (Wannis), Ahmed Hegazi (il fratello), Zouzou Hamdi El Hakim (la madre), Nadia Lofti (Zeena); PC: Egyptian General Cinema Organization 35 mm. 103’ Col. Arabic version with English subtitles From: Egyptian Film Centre. Restored in 2009 by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna - L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory, from the original 35 mm camera and sound negatives preserved at the Egyptian Film Center in Giza. The digital restoration produced a new 35 mm internegative. The film was restored with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. - Presenta Gian Luca Farinelli. Viewed at Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 29 June 2009.

From Martin Scorsese's introductory text: Rightfully acknowledged as one of the greatest Egyptian films ever made. Based on a true story: in 1881, precious objects from the Tanite dynasty started turning up for sale, and it was discovered that the Horabat tribe had been secretly raiding the tombs of the Pharaohs in Thebes. Al momia has an extremely unusual tone - stately, poetic, with a powerful grasp of time and the sadness it carries. The carefully measured pace, the almost ceremonial movement of the camera, the desolate settings, the classical Arabic spoken on the soundtrack, the unsettling score by the great Italian composer Mario Nascimbene - they all work in perfect harmony and contribute to the feeling of fateful inevitability. The picture has a sense of history like no other. And in the end, the film is strangely, even hauntingly consoling - the eternal burial, the final understanding of who and what we are. - AA: It is hard to put it better than Martin Scorsese above, and I'm grateful for the World Cinema Foundation for bringing this unique masterpiece back to circulation, albeit via a digital intermediate.

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