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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

The First Egyptian "Talky"

 

 

By Priscilla Adum

 

 

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Which was the first Egyptian "talky"? In other words, the first Egyptian motion picture to have sound?

It was the 1932 movie Awlad El Zawat (The Sons of Aristocrats) It starred the Egyptian then-hearthrob Youssef Wahbi, who had crossed over from stage to cinema, and also the pioneer film actress Amina Rizk.

The storyline of the first talking Egyptian film was very interesting. It touched upon a very serious subject matter. It dealt with what Egyptians considered a growing problem, which was that of foreign women going to Egypt and marrying Egyptian men. The description of the movie in the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) says: "The film is a look into the problems facing Egyptian men who marry foreign women, heavily portraying the women as immoral gold diggers and cheats."

When Youssef Wahbi was interviewed later in his life, he talked about that first film. The interview appears on the internet at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xii3bGgKmtI. Among the things highlighted in the interview were the following:

After World War I, many Western countries still suffered from the devastating effects of the war. Egypt, however, was going through a period of prosperity in the 1920's, and many Westerners traveled to Egypt looking for work or looking to stay and live there. Many wealthy Egyptians also traveled to the West. Many marriages between Westerners and Egyptians occurred. Some were successful, some were not.

Sons

Youssef Wahbi states in the interview that the film was, "A response to an accusation from the West who, at that time, accused Middle Eastern people of being wild and uncivilized."

Wahbi says that at the time, there had been a very famous crime in England. It was the murder of an Egyptian man who had traveled to France and had begun a relationship with a French prostitute. While they were both staying in London, she killed him for reasons unknown. During the trial, the woman's British lawyer stated, "Don't let the appearance of Middle Eastern people fool you when they are wearing Western clothes, because behind these Western clothes, Middle Eastern people hide their evil behavior and their savage and uncivilized inclinations."

With such arguments, the woman was pronounced innocent and set free. Youssef Wahbi went on to say in the interview, "In the film, the first talking film, it was my intention to respond to this accusation by the West, and to highlight the fact that there are dishonest Western women who attempt to enter a relationship or a marriage with rich Egyptian men just for money. And it is not true that Middle Eastern people are savage and uncivilized."

Youssef

 

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About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 

Priscilla

 

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