The HungerOriginal Title: Al Go'a
Director: Ali Badrakhan
Egypt | Arabic
Subtitles: English, French
Naguib Mahfouz – Man of Cinema
A number of Mahfouz’s themes come together in The Hunger
, a film derived from episodes in his 1977 novel The Harafish. His beloved residents of old Cairo’s back alleys are here, their passions and theatrical outbursts providing a level of humor that softens but can’t completely disguise the hardship of lives ground down by inescapable poverty. Within this milieu, Mahfouz introduces Farag, a weak-willed man who comes to encapsulate the corrupting nature of power. It’s a concept the novelist treated in his early works set in pharaonic times, using the fabled past as a handy cover for sharp critiques of contemporary dictatorships. The same can be said for The Hunger, which begins in 1887 but has unmistakable parallels to Egypt under more modern strongmen.
Local merchants are forced to pay protection money until Farag, played with typical bravado by Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, accidentally kills one of the gangsters. The entire quarter now looks up to him as “the Champ,” and the adulation goes to his head; he turns profiteer during a famine and takes a second wife (Yousra) from a higher class. In contrast is his gentle brother Gaber (Abdel Aziz Makhyoun), a true man of the people who comes to the rescue of an abandoned woman (Souad Hosny). Power leads to injustice, and, as is so often the case in Mahfouz’s deeply human works, tyranny is the one true perversion.
Contains: Adult themes