Alexandria, Why?

This 1978 film, the first feature in Egyptian director Youssef Chahine’s fascinating and complex autobiographical trilogy about Alexandria, won the Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival. It’s set during World War II, when Rommel’s army is approaching the city and a youth who serves as a stand-in for Chahine (Mohsen Mohiedine) is undergoing crises of national identity, sexuality, and vocation. A terrific movie in many respects, though perhaps less of a revelation than the trilogy’s 1990 conclusion, Alexandria, Again and Always. (JR)

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