5 Movies That Captured the Evolution of Downtown Cairo Throughout The Years


Marwan Omar

1 month  ago

In addition to giving us the feels, movies have been capable of documenting entire decades — decor, fashion, architecture, streets, scenery — and capturing the essence of these periods for future generations to examine. We’re shedding light on 5 Egyptian movies that speak of the splendor of these former eras as they scoped the evolution of Downtown Cairo throughout the years.

1- حياة او موت


Despite their black and white frames, 1950s productions were mainly adored for their depictions of the classy nature of Egyptians back in the day, and there’s no better portrayal of 1954’s Cairo than  حياة او موت. Due to its prevalent chase scenes, many sequences were executed outdoors, where we got to feast our eyes on Cairo’s Nile Corniche, as well as this its avenues, shops and buildings throughout most of the plot’s events.


2- الحريف  


When Adel Emam teams up with director Mohamed Khan, we expect nothing less than a time-transcending masterpiece, which was the case with الحريف. Not only did their fruitful collaboration yield a riveting eighties’ flick, but they also captured the unmasked version of Cairo during the latter quarter of the twentieth century, with abundant scenes shot in Downtown Cairo, near Abd El-Meneiem Ryad Square and beneath The 6th Of October Bridge.


3- اربعة في مهمة رسمية



One of  the most remarkable features of Ahmed Zaki’s career is the diversity of the roles he undertook, which aided him to nail every genre he starred in — and when it comes to comedy, the first movie that springs to mind is definitely اربعة في مهمة رسمية. In one of the film’s comical scenes, Zaki is spotted wandering in Talaat Harb’s square, accompanied by his animals, highlighting how crowded this area has become and how hard it is to set foot in this perimeter, and that was way before they invented el toktok, so imagine today’s dilemma!


4- اللعب مع الكبار


It was in 1991 when the local movie industry took a turn for the better when Sherif Arafa kicked off his 5-movie project that started with اللعب مع الكبار and concluded with النوم في العسل. While all of the five productions were warmly welcomed by movie enthusiasts, it was اللعب مع الكبار that attained the widest praise for its utter realism that made use of Cairo’s neighborhoods, especially in the lengthy dialogue between Adel Emam and Hussien Fahmy near Tahrir Square during the film’s third act.


5- عمارة يعقوبيان


Throughout history, many movies have gone deep in their thorough exhibition of Egyptian society, from the days of the skillful Youssef Chahine till today’s films, but only a few managed to impact the audience the way عمارة يعقوبيان did back in 2006. With its A-class cast and filmmaking crew, this acclaimed movie sketched the perfect incorporation of Downtown Cairo into the film’s story as if it was an intangible character amongst the scripted ones, which peaked with Adel Emam’s renowned scene — his rant on the unfortunate foulness that bashed such an elegant neighborhood.



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