We’ve already mentioned how watching Arabic films can help you practice your Arabic and make learning Arabic easier. And since most Arabic films are Egyptian, there is the extra-added benefit of practicing and learning the Egyptian dialect.
The Egyptian film industry has produced an extraordinary collection of features since its inception in the late 19th century. Egyptian films portray Egypt’s rich popular culture and its historical influence on the global cinema stage.
So what are some of the best Egyptian films that are not only compelling and entertaining, but also beneficial for those looking to improve their Arabic? Here are a few:
The Nightingale’s Prayer
This 1934 film is a convincing tale of love and betrayal. Set in the upper Egyptian countryside, it follows the story of Amna. She is an illiterate young woman from a small village in rural Egypt that plots revenge on the engineer who destroyed her family’s honor. This is truly a wonderful Egyptian film with a timeless soundtrack. The storyline gives so much insight into the culture. Characters are easily relatable and care about.
The Flirtation of Girls
In this classic 1949 Egyptian musical, the aging Hamam is a poor Arabic teacher who takes a job as a private teacher for those who want to learn the language. The legendary Egyptian actor Nagib El-Rihani plays the main character in his last film. Hamam soon meets and falls in love with an aristocratic student, the young and beautiful Laila. She, in turn, helps him appreciate the life that he had scorned for so long. In the end, Hamam must decide between his unrealistic feelings or sacrificing his love for Laila. The incomparable Mohamed Abdel Wahab composed the music. The songs are performed by the celebrated songstress Laila Mourad. This film presents a beautifully delicate story that will also guide you around many of Egypt’s historical sights while exposing the melting pot of culture that lies beneath.
Cairo Station is a story about a crippled newspaper salesman at the Cairo train station who suffered most of his life. Nevertheless, he develops an unhealthy obsession for Hannuma, a woman who sells refreshments at the station. When Hannuma rejects him once again, his obsession soon turns to madness. In this very gripping melodrama, we come head-to-head with uncompromising themes of social injustice and the cultural abyss that come with love, suffering, and the experiences that tie all humans together. However, as a result of the film’s disturbingly dark sexual nature, Egypt banned this film for 20 years. Still, Cairo Station was Egypt’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959.
The Sin is a hard-hitting social drama released in 1965 about a poor migrant woman named Azziza. She becomes a symbol of worker oppression after she is sexually assaulted by a guard while in the fields gathering potatoes for her husband. However, due to her husband’s unnamed health issues, she chooses not to tell him. She later discovers she is pregnant and immediately strangles the baby after it is born. Soon after, dying herself. Thus, she becomes a martyr for migrant workers as they rally around her memory. The Sin is unquestionably, one of the most important films to come out of the Egyptian film industry.
The Bus Driver
Hassan is a bus driver and the only brother to five sisters. He is trying to provide money for his father’s workshop which was closed due to tax problems. The stress of having to provide money before the workshop is sold at auction takes its toll on Hassan. This leads to arguments between him and his wife, usually ending in acts of domestic violence. This 1982 family drama shows a family stretched to its limit. In addition, it reveals the harsh reality of the relationship between money and family.
Terrorism and the Kebab
Ahmed works two jobs. However, he is forced to take one day off to arrange for his children to attend a school nearer their home. He becomes frustrated by all the red tape he has to go through and having to take yet another day off to fix his problem. Thus, he gathers some weapons and takes over the Mogamma, a famous administrative governmental building in Cairo. At first, government officials label him a “crazy terrorist” until they finally start talking to him and soon realize his very simple demands. Hilarity ensues in this wildly popular Arabic comedy movie filmed in Egypt.
The Yacoubian Building
With action set in the 1990s, this is a film about the tenants of 70-year-old building of once luxurious apartments. An aging libertine, Zika, fights with his sister. Haj Azzam is a devout Muslim who secretly takes a second wife to satiate his sexual drive within the bounds of his religion. Bothayna, poor and beautiful, supports her family out of loyalty and self-respect, while her former fiancé, the son of the building’s janitor named Taha, is shamed by getting in trouble with the police, so turns to fundamentalism. Hatem is a gay editor who seduces and corrupts a young man from the backwoods. Finally, two Coptic Christian brothers, one a tailor and the other works as Zika’s jack-of-all-trades, cook up a scheme to acquire property. Corruption is in everyone’s hearts. The film was even submitted to the 79th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
Asmaa is 2011 film about a woman who suffers from AIDS but chooses to not let it defeat her by putting all she has into her recovery while also giving others who suffer from the disease glimpses of hope. The film is a heart-warming testament of one woman’s struggle in not only overcoming disease, but also overcoming ridicule and gender stereotypes. Asmaa is the first Egyptian movie to portray AIDS patients with empathy, inspiring everyone who sees it to live a life of love and courage.
So, there you are – the best Egyptian cinema has to offer to help you learn to speak Arabic, among other Arabic language skills. However, watching Arabic films is only one way that you can learn Arabic faster. Research has shown that the best way to learn Arabic is through the use of an Arabic learning app like the Kaleela Arabic learning app. Visit our website and find out how you can learn Egyptian Arabic or any of the other Arabic dialects spoken throughout the region by downloading the Kaleela Arabic learning app to your IOS or Android mobile device today.
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