"Alexandria, Why?" marked a radical, newly introspective turn in Chahine's active career, a sharp departure from his Fifties musicals and melodramas and his later epics and political films. The first of Chahine's four film semi-autobiography, entitled "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," "Alexandria, Why?" focuses on a precocious adolescent whose dreams and colorful attempts to become an actor unfold against the vivid backdrop of Alexandria during World War II. A rich ensemble cast inspires Chahine's young thespian hero with a wealth of dramatic subplots-at turns hilarious and touching-about wartime life. The autobiographical nature and nostalgic flavor of "Alexandria, Why?" make it one of Chahine's most accessible works, a charming and entertaining film that also delivers a potently subversive and impassioned anti-war message.
Directed by Youssef Chahine.
With Naglaa Fathi, Farid Shawki, Ezzat el-Alaili
Egypt 1978, 35mm, color, 130 min. Arabic with English subtitles