The Beginning and the End (Egypt)
The Beginning and the End (Egypt)Original Title: Bidaya wa Nihaya
Director: Salah Abu Seif
Egypt | Arabic
| Black & White
Naguib Mahfouz – Man of Cinema
Based on the novel of the same name by Mahfouz, The Beginning and The End
is among the most important films in the history of Arab cinema and is a significant work in the œuvre of Salah Abu Seif, particularly given the place it holds in the history of Egyptian realist films.
The story is that of the family of a man of modest means who dies. From the moment she realizes her late husband has left her with nothing, the widowed mother attempts to salvage what she can of normal subsistence –by no means an easy task, given the small amount provided by the government pension. The slide into poverty that results is equally horrific in Mahfouz’s novel and Abu Seif’s film, as the pressure of an unforgiving society and the family’s inability to support itself sees them descend into a life of hell.
Amina Rizk is at her best here as the woman who looks after her family while her life goes to pieces. Her eldest son is rarely at home and barely able to feed himself, while her two younger sons find their paths forward in life blocked by fate. Meanwhile, daughter Nafissa (Sanaa Gamil), faced with the ugliness of poverty and desperation, is led to the abyss of despair. The Beginning and the End
lives in the memories of millions of spectators due to its universal story –one familiar not only to Arab societies, but to societies the world over, hence the ease with which the story is adapted to a Mexican setting in the film by Arturo Ripstein, also showing at the Festival (see page 123).
–Ibrahim Al Ariss