The owner of a controversial school in directing, as his films are very simple and complex at the same time, not only dependent on visual and creative pleasure, but also working to illuminate minds and create a space for thinking. Youssef Shaheen, whose 95th birthday falls today on January 25th, was able with his works to Opens international doors to Egyptian cinema, and creates a distinguished cinematic history thanks to 39 films in its history.
The religious, cultural and societal diversity in the city of Alexandria, where Youssef Gabriel Shaheen was born in 1926, had a great influence on his intellectual formation and in his films as well. Shaheen was born to a father of Lebanese origins and a mother of Greek origin who immigrated to Egypt in the 19th century. This combination made his family speak 4 languages, and the family was keen for their son to receive a good education, after he finished high school, he traveled to the United States of America to study art, and upon his return to Egypt he decided to direct to directing with the help of photographer Alvizi Orvanelli, and the beginning was in an assistant role. Director in the movie “Woman of Fire”, starring Camelia Roshdy Abaza.
The composition of the image, the audio tape and the state cinema was the main concern of Youssef Shaheen. The work of the Egyptian director who has reached the world is not without that magic. We find the characters in his films in the midst of a distinction that characterized both the decoration, the clothes and the scenario, which seems clear since his first films “Baba Amin” Which he presented after his return from the United States of America when he was 23 years old, and despite his young age at the time, he got 300 pounds in wages for the movie, which was shown in 1950.
The film was strange to Egyptian cinema and presented progressive ideas that are represented in the issue of human existence. Can a person fix his life? He portrayed the life of a father after his death, based on fantasy, which was new at the time to Egyptian cinema.
Crystallizing his own style
“Ibn El Nil” is his second film, presented in 1951, which is ranked 82nd in the list of the 100 best films in the memory of Egyptian cinema. Although the film’s story itself seems very ordinary, Youssef Shaheen’s dependence on the fluid camera movement in many of the film’s scenes, and the way of expression By image and sound, it was the beginning of the crystallization and formation of Shaheen’s own style. As for “Our Lady of the Train”, it is evident from the opening scene of the film Shaheen’s superiority in managing his project and moving the large groups, a prelude to Shaheen’s imagination later in the presentation of his film “Al-Nasir Salah El-Din.”
Blending history with the present
In the movie “Al-Nasser Saladin”, it became clear that Youssef Chahine was working on presenting a historical epic, which was the desire that occupied him at the time, but it was looking forward with an eye to the present. And, in the most prominent film in its history, it relied on advanced cinematic techniques, which was also achieved in his film “Jameela” starring and producing Magda, which deals with the life of the Algerian fighter “Jamila Bouhaired” who contributed to resisting the French occupation of Algeria after the killing of her colleague.
In the movie “People and the Nile”, he tried to reflect his vision of the heterogeneous image of the Egyptian society, which was different in cultures and religions. Through the film, Shaheen showed diversity and unity at the same time.
Shaheen returned to his interest in peasant issues before the revolution of July 1952, in the movie “The Land”, presenting different personalities, each employed to present a social and cultural class that expresses it.
Self in his films
Shaheen gave his life to art, and the “taboo” (taboos) penetrated the narration of the self cinematically thanks to his biography, dreams and experiences. He was able to document his biography in the “Alexandria Les” quadruple, “Hadouta Masriya”, “Alexandria Violin and Violin”, and “Alexandria New York” .
In “Alexandria Les”, which was shown in 1978, not only documents the dreams of the hero “Yahya” to travel to study art in the United States of America, using clips that Shaheen actually filmed at that age, but he expressed it about the generation of the forties during World War II and their vision of the political and social situation Also, the integration of national unity that appeared clear in the concern of the Jews in Alexandria about the possibility of the entry of the Germans.
In 1982, he continued his career with the movie “Haddawah Masriya”, which used a real incident as a starting point for him, when he fell while filming the end of his movie “The Bird” and had an open heart surgery. Surgery, while Yahya tries to heal himself with art.
Shaheen decided to play the character “Yahya”, which is the character he expresses in the 1990 movie “Alexandria Violin and Violin”. It begins with the separation of his favorite actor Mohsen Mohieddin from him and his relationship with his actors, and reveals his dictatorial method in his films.
Finally, in “Alexandria New York,” 2004, he chose to tell about his study trip in America by listing facts that actually happened to him there, such as his love for dancing and his mastery of it, and the girl he fell in love with at that stage.
Shaheen’s keen desire for his films to appear in the best image and sound technically was finally fulfilled, and despite his departure on July 27, 2008, but he remained present with his films on his behalf even after his absence, as his tenth anniversary was celebrated by restoring his films through digital technology, and films were attended by Kabir was shown at the time in a corner cinema to celebrate his memory.
Although Shaheen did not have children bearing his name, he was able to contribute to the enrichment of cinema with many artists, including Omar Sharif, Mohsen Muhyiddin, Yusra, Nur al-Sharif, Khaled al-Nabawi and Hani Salama, and he was given the opportunity to act to Muhammad Munir and Majida Al-Roumi.