First, it is important to consider major milestones in the development of the Egyptian cinematography. It is noteworthy that the first “purpose-built cinema house” was built in Egypt in 1907 (Gamal 2). It suggests that Egyptians were interested in the new form of art and the industry could easily pave its way. Initially, foreign films were shown. The first national film was produced in 1917 (Danielson 87). However, those were first attempts, though they were quite successful.
The industry started developing rapidly in 1925 when Tal’at Harb, a successful banker, started his own film company. Importantly, the banker employed only nationals and he even sent the most promising ones to Europe for the necessary training (Danielson 87). Unshudat al-Fu’ad / Song from the Heart (1932) was one of the first Egyptian sound films (Shafik 45). This musical film was very successful and it inspired many Egyptian filmmakers.
Another musical, al-Warda al-Badha / The White Rose produced in 1933, was also the first Egyptian movie “to be successfully exported to other Arab countries” (Shafik 45). Muhammad Karim, Ahmad Badrakhan, Fatima Rushdi were among those directors who shaped the Egyptian cinematography and created or rather identified its most significant conventions.
The middle of the 20th century is regarded as the golden age of the Egyptian cinematography. Numerous brilliant films were created at that period. It is necessary to note that major themes and genres remained the same. Those were often musical films and comedies that promulgated universal values. They will be considered in detail below. However, during the 1970-1980s, the industry was declining and the number of films produced decreased significantly (Russell 344). Their quality was often very low. At present, the Egyptian industry is on its rise and numerous talented filmmakers manage to produce highly successful national films.
As has been mentioned above,