Kuwait issues travel warning over Lebanon protests    Erdogan says not a problem for Turkey if Syrian forces are in areas cleared of Kurdish forces    Pompeo seeks to assure Israel US focus stays on Iran 'threat'    Egypt says strategic wheat reserves enough to cover its needs until February    Egypt keen to support DR Congo: Ambassador    Ratcliffe to rely on young talents to help Nice grow    Social media facilitates racist abuse, says Leicester's Morgan    Criticism of Man Utd transfer strategy an insult to club-Woodward    US vaping-related deaths rise to 33, cases of illness to 1,479    Cairo metro back to normal operations following hours-long power disruption    Egypt's Pope Tawadros opens Saint Mary, Mar Youhanna Church in Belgium    Apache Corp. plans to increase investments in Egypt: CEO    Egypt's Irrigation minister reviews latest developments of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam in Budapest    UK, EU clinch new Brexit deal    U.S. Trump defends Syria pullout, condemned by House in bipartisan vote    'Passports should be valid for six months,' Egypt's foreign ministry advises citizens planning travel abroad    Unpaid work hits 35% of Egypt's GPD, but still not included in economic calculations: IMF    Egypt's FM Shoukry holds talks with Lithuania's govt. chancellor    Egypt's c.bank Oks new regulations tightening control on micro-financing    Dollar, pound tread water, Aussie bolstered by jobs report    European stocks set for cautious open ahead of crucial EU summit    Egypt in talks with World Bank over solid waste management loan    Grand Nile Tower Arts & Cultural Centre launches second round    AUC students win prestigious award at SensUs 2019    Egypt's coach Hossam El-Badry satisfied with winning start despite technical problems    Hundreds released    Luxor's new discoveries    Moroccan film Nomades scoops awards in Alexandria Film Festival    Toshiba's JV with Egyptian Elaraby opens regional HQ in South Africa    Six authors vie for Booker prize 2019, Atwood in the lead    In Photos: A sneak peek into rehearsals for the Cleopatra ballet world premiere    Sisi, Ethiopia's PM to meet in Moscow to discuss GERD issue    Sisi: army engaged in attrition phase against terrorism in Sinai since 2013    10K fans to attend Egypt's friendly against Botswana in Alexandria: EFA    Sisi, Ethiopia's PM agree to overcome obstacles in Nile dam talks    Farwell to Egyptian comic actor Talaat Zakaria    Court sentences six to death, 41 to lifetime imprisonment violence related case    Trump says he would release Mideast peace plan after Israeli elections    ACWA Power compares 3 bids to supply production units for Luxor power station    What do you know about gold alloying?    NBE announces EGP 2.5m prizes for handball youth teams for their world achievements    Jennifer Lopez evokes Egyptian outrage post her North Coast performance    Al-Sisi honours Egypt's scholars on Science Day    IS claims responsibility for suicide bombing killing 63 in Afghan wedding    Political parties gear up for parliamentary, senate, local elections    Unprecedented Glory: Egypt win Men's U-19 World Handball Championship    12th National Egyptian Theatre Festival fuel up public theatre art scene    Ministry of Environment has a plan for "black clouds season"    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





Odysseys to scale: Tracing a major theme in this year's Ramadan TV
Published in Ahram Online on 04 - 06 - 2018

Over some five decades now Ramadan television series have shared a proclivity for social critique and multiple characters-storylines, even though until the end of the 1980s – when 30-episode series and 45-minute episodes became the norm – most of the works in question used to be only 15 episodes.
Only in the late 1980s did TV drama become what it is with Osama Anwar Okasha writing Al-Shahd wal-Dumou' (Honey and Tears) in two seasons and Layali Al-Helmia (Helmia Nights) in five seasons and Mohamed Galal Abdel-Qawi writing Al-Mal wal-Banoun (Wealth and Progeny) in two seasons.
Leaning on the tragic format that has always underlay Egyptian television and film, these works proved very popular as viewers were drawn to the variety and depth of carefully constructed characters and tightly woven storylines.
This year the tide seems to be turning again, however, with writers producing far more narrowly structured works in a single format: the formula of the hero's journey or odyssey. Reflecting a production preference for one-star shows – Mohamed Ramadan, Ahmed Ezz, Amir Karara, Yasser Galal – the odyssey formula also lends itself to action and suspense which promise higher ratings.
In Mariam Naoum and Mohamed Al-Masry's Abu Omar Al-Masry, directed by Ahmed Khaled Moussa and based on two novels by Ezzedine Choukri Fishere – The Killing of Fakhredine (1995) and Abu Omar Al-Masry (2007) – the hero, Fakhredine (Ahmed Ezz), himself a terrorist leader, sets out to rescue his son Omar from the clutches of Abu Hamza (Munzir Riahna), the terrorist emir who has arrested and plans on executing him.
In the first episode, an unarmed Fakhredine penetrates the village Abu Hamza's Gamaa controls and single-handedly fights his way – Rambo-like – to his archenemy's lair, where it becomes clear they have known each other for a long time. The scene ends with Fakhredine killing Abu Hamza and escaping with his son. The escape ploy is extremely unconvincing, since Fakhredine manages to walk past Abu Hamza's guard by declaring he is under the protection of the emir he has just killed.
But it is during the return journey on camel back through the desert, when Fakhredine begins to tell Omar the story of his life, that the flashbacks forming the substance of the story start. A principled young lawyer committed to defending the poor and the working class, Fakhredine clashes with the corrupt and violent businessman Samir Al-Abd (kudos to Fathi Abdel-Wahab for a strong performance), who tries to kill him and ends up killing his cousin instead. But Fakhredine's friends pretend he was the one who died and use a forged passport to send him to Belgium to study in place of his cousin...
(Photo: still from Handcuffs)
In first season of Kalabsh (Handcuffs) last year, writer Baher Dewidar and director Peter Mimi presented a similar odyssey in the figure of police officer Selim Al-Ansari (Amir Karara). This man's moral resolve and insistence on implementing the law place various obstacles in his way – until three corrupt figures, a businessman, a lawyer and MP manage to frame him for a murder – and so he becomes a fugitive.
His nemesis is the officer whose job it is to find and arrest him, Salah Al-Toukhi (Mahmoud Al-Bizzawi), and his challenge is to prove his innocence – which he does. In the new season, a terrorist attack that kills a large group of army conscripts on the Fayoum highway sets the tone. Selim the comic-book hero is pitted against a Gulf-connected comic-book villain, Akef Al-Gabalawi (Haitham Ahmed Zaki), who imports weapons with which to supply terrorist groups though he is not himself a terrorist.
Selim ends up arresting Akef's father Abul Ezz (Abdel-Rahman Abu Zahra), a drug- and arms-dealer who having received a capital punishment sentence is on the run. And so Akef kills Selim's wife and sister. Kalabsh is notable for dealing frankly with police corruption, but in this season Selim's betrayal by a major officer involved with the Gabalawis is a bold turn.
One of the weakest examples of the odyssey formula is Nisr Al-Saeed (Upper Egypt Eagle), in which the hero Zain Al-Qinawi (Mohamed Ramadan) is not only a strong and decisive police officer but also a wise and sensitive loyal Upper Egyptian; he is in short everything good and noble, which makes it next to impossible to develop any convincing drama in the modern sense.
Screenwriter Mohamed Abdel-Moati and director Yasser Sami have created an epic devoid of human depth in which Zain's father Saleh, the head of the city of Qina, is not only the main landowner but also the patriarch and the informal judge, who is killed by an antiquities- and drugs-smuggler named Hitler (Sayed Ragab) trying to replace him as the man in charge.
The series traces Zain's life story from the death of his mother when he is ten to his father being killed while he is studying at the Police Academy. Yet the obstacles and challenges he faces are all superficial and exaggerated, and the action sequences – like the one in which he leads a small force into a village controlled by a major criminal with seven execution sentences to his name – are more like video game slashers than fast-paced film.
(Photo: still from Upper Egypt Eagle)
This article was first published in Al Ahram Weekly
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture


Clic here to read the story from its source.