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The plight of women in Egyptian cinema (1940s 1960s)

By Marisa Farrugia

Abstract

It has been suggested that the period between the 1940s and the 1960s was 'the golden age' of Egyptian cinema -a period of growth, innovation and popularity. The aim of this research is to focus on the plight of Egyptian women in selected long feature films of this period, and how this -was realistically represented on the screen. It was a daunting task for the present researcher to embark on such controversial gender issues, especially from a westerner's perspective on a Muslim Arab society. But the researcher's determination and sense of duty to investigate and expose the hardships of Egyptian womenfolk through films, managed to overcome that feeling of trepidation, together with the tremendous support of her advisor Dr. Zahia Salhi.\ud \ud This study begins by tracing the historical development of Egyptian cinema and the important role played by female pioneers in the newly emergent film industry, whereby an assessment of the role of these pioneers is also considered. This leads to an analysis of the status of the Egyptian woman within her socio-historical and cultural contexts that are essential for the identification of gender based representational strategies in these films. The research reviews major film theories related to representation, communication and gender issues, and how films as products of their creators, are connected to the social, economic, political and cultural backgrounds of a given time and place. In addition to these film theories,\ud the study recommends a textual variation approach for film analysis, for those films based on literary texts that have been adapted to the screen. The textual variation\ud approach looks for the ways in which the film director modifies the original text when it is adapted into a film. The aim behind the textual variation approach is tounderstand the function of the dominant theme in both literary text and film, and scrutinise its visible or latent realistic meanings vis ii vis the structures of thought which dominated the Egyptian society of the 1940s to the 1960s. It is these structures of thought that impose on the film-makers the textual variations from novel to film. The difference in the time period when the novel was written is compared with the period when the film was produced in order to assess the present social dominant ideologies or the shifting values. Thus, the time dimension factor, together with the film-makers' own views, help us determine the internal expectations of the Egyptian society and the realistic plight of its womenfolk. To bring the concept of textual variation into application, three film case studies are considered, th e findings of which demonstrate that when textual variations or total\ud adherence to the novel were involved, dominant ideologies were either reaffirmed, shifted or evolved according to the era of the film production. \u

Publisher: Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies (Leeds)
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:251

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