• Publication date: April 14, 2011

El Karnak El Karnak

Al Karnak is a movie that shows the unstable social and political life ...

Al Karnak is a movie that shows the unstable social and political life in Egypt during the late 60s and early 70s of the last century. The lives of a group of university students are turned upside down because of their talks about the political unstability the country was going through at the time. While some of the students managed to recover, others have been doomed and fought for their lives. The film begins with the radio announcement of the 6 October 1973 crossing of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian army, as Ismail al-Sheikh sits despondent in the Karnak Coffee Shop. Ismail then goes to the hospital where Zeinab Diab was trying to get admitted for surgery. There is a flashback to Ismail's days as a student in medical college with his classmates Hamada Helmy and Zeinab. They took part in student activities and debates about politics and ideology. At the same time he had a romantic relationship with Fereqali, the owner of the coffee shop. However one night they were arrested and jailed. They lost their freedom and were imprisoned for a time, but after their release he courted Zeinab and her parents agreed. However conditions changed. There were demonstrations and the authorities began arresting youth. The intelligence service under the direction of Khaled Safwan began using savage torture methods and Zeinab was even raped. Zeinab and Ismail were conscripted for intelligence work and they wrote reports against their comrades. Zeinab started the May movement for the release of Ismail and all those in detention. Ismail returned to his commitment after vanquishing the past and its tyranny and oppression and returned to Zeinab. This film is is based on a story by Naguib Mahfouz, and was a film about political persecution under Nasser after the Egyptian defeat by the Israelis in 1967. It included portrayals of sexual abuse of a type that had never been attempted in Egyptian cinema.