"Sarah Al-Bati'"…between the Khaled Youssef series and the story of Youssef Idris

"Fortunately, and also for misfortune, I did not have the opportunity to complete my case, for they attacked us, we did not know where they came from, but the square was filled with those damned sticks that they call the Nabatites and with savage and terrible throats crying out: God is great, and I will not tell you about the insane terror that befell us in court Accusation, defense and guards, we were still suffering from the peasant phobia that we had.

This is how the late writer Youssef Idris describes, in his story "Serra Al-Bati'", the peasants' attack with "nabit" on the soldiers of the French campaign, to liberate the farmer Hamed from their hands during his comic trial. It is the scene that director Khaled Youssef transferred to the television screen as part of the events of his series "Serra Al-Batea". Did the latter succeed in conveying what the famous Egyptian writer achieved in his literary text?

The series is shown during the current Ramadan season, from the script of the director himself, with the participation of Mustafa Ibrahim and Khaled Kassab, and starring elite actors, such as Hussein Fahmy, Ahmed Al-Saadani, Ahmed Fahmy, Hanan Mutawa, Khaled Al-Sawy, Ahmed Wafik, Amr Abdel-Galil and Aida Riyad.

audience between two times

Undoubtedly, the audience for television work is much broader than the audience for literature. Youssef chose a literary text for Idris that was overlooked by the film and television makers, perhaps due to the difficulty of producing it, especially since its events take place at the time of the French campaign, or because the text was not full of events to fill an interesting movie, unlike his other stories such as “The Forbidden” and “The Flaw” and An "incident of honor".

Since the first episode of the series, the director presents his own vision to address a well-known literary story. The obsessed with the story of Sultan Hamed (actor Ahmed Salah Al-Saadani) – the narrator in the story of Idris – is the young farmer Hamed (actor Ahmed Fahmy), who begins his obsession with the position of Sultan Hamed since childhood, and goes to him. He lights candles for him, prays next to him, and talks to him. Suddenly, he finds a manuscript in the place that he believes may solve the mystery of the shrine, and then sets out on a journey to search for a translation into the French language in which the text of the ancient manuscript was written.

Parallel to contemporary times, we go back to the time of Napoleon's campaign against Egypt, when the young Hamed leads the struggle of the peasants against the French in the villages of the Delta, and through him we meet different human models, from the sheikh of the country, the imams of the mosques, and the women of the village.

From the fictional story written by Idris about the shrine of Sultan Hamid, the series "Surra Al-Bati'" begins with real stories of popular resistance against Napoleon's campaign, such as the story of the popular hero Sheikh Hassan Toubar, one of the country's wealthy people who led the resistance against the French in Lake Manzala and the Small Sea in 1798.

Suspense Idris

Idris relied on suspense in his story, as it took more than two-thirds of the story to explain the confusion of the narrator, the boy who does not understand why the shrine of an unknown sultan named Hamid has become an essential landmark of the country, like the railway station. Little by little, he discovers that he was not a real sultan ruling over Egypt, and that there are other shrines with the same name in the neighboring villages.

The boy grows up and becomes "Afandia", but the story of Sultan Hamid still baffles him, before he reveals to us "the secret of Sultan Hamid" through a letter sent by a French scientist participating in Napoleon's campaign to his colleague.

This is in the book, but in the series, the television work revealed its cards quickly, as we know early on that Sultan Hamid is the simple, brave farmer Hamed, who decided to challenge the oppression of the French and lead the peasants in their revolution against the enemy.

January revolution

The series "Sarah Al-Bati'" also begins to review what happened in 2011, starting with the start of the "January Revolution" demonstrations, and the subsequent electoral campaigns, the struggle of political forces, and the dispersion among the revolutionaries. It focuses on the theft of the antiquities of the Egyptian Museum by thieves during the events of "Friday of Anger" on January 28, and it was strange that the director used an archive clip of himself on a satellite channel, calling on the revolutionaries to protect the Egyptian Museum.

After more than a decade of the events of 2011 and their aftermath, the director presents his vision of the most recent revolution in the history of Egypt, through direct speeches by archaeologist Dr. Youssef Iskandar (actor Mahmoud Kabil), who links the success of the revolution to the ability of young people to impose their administration, in the face of organized movements trying to Ride the revolution.

From "The Tempest" to "The Great Secret"

Audiences knew director Khaled Youssef for the first time from his first film, "Al-Aasifa" (2001), in which he presented his vision of the events of the Second Gulf War in the early 1990s.

Later, he went through various cinematic experiences between comedy, emotional drama, and the stories of the Egyptian neighborhood, to raise controversy in his most famous films, “Hen Maysara” and “Dokan Shehata” or “She is a Chaos,” with the participation of Youssef Chahine. He has been absent from the cinema screen since his last work, "Karma" in 2018, to become preoccupied with politics and accusing him of moral issues that made him leave Egypt temporarily.

Youssef returns to his first television experiences, to combine his passion for the story of Youssef Idris, and his dream of presenting a work on the "January Revolution", and he is one of those who supported it and worked in politics after it.

He ran the parliament race, but his vision here is very naive and direct, trying to say that the youth of the revolution are innocent, and because the revolution was without a leader, and there are those who seized their dreams, trying to link this to the revolution of the Egyptians against the French two centuries ago.

Irony and reconsideration

However, good intentions and beautiful dreams do not make a good, interesting series attractive to the audience, amid fierce competition from the various Ramadan series. The follower of the first reactions to the episodes of the series notes that the ridicule affected many elements in the work, starting with the features of the French soldiers and their conversation in the Egyptian colloquial, and the errors in the costumes and accessories, then what was raised about the controversy about the director’s use of music from his previous works without the permission of Rajeh Daoud, the owner of the music. series pictorial.

Despite the large budget required by a TV series that takes place in two different times, we see naive action scenes, which were implemented poorly without convincing the viewer, and raise the following question: Did the director not have enough time to implement these scenes well, or was diarrhea the reason?

The series seems distracted between trying to find a balance between the popular resistance against Napoleon's campaign and the Egyptian revolution against the regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Both revolutions demonstrate the Egyptians' rejection of injustice and oppression, but the direct scenario sometimes made this comparison naive, but it is calculated for the work makers that they restored glory to the "January Revolution", which has been absent from the media for years, or sometimes accused of chaos.

Distinguished "Tatar".

The most beautiful thing in the wonderful series “Al-Tatar” (the emblem), with the words of the poet Mustafa Ibrahim and the voice of Muhammad Mounir, which sometimes rises during the action scenes, and it seems that it is the most important thing that the latter will leave in the Egyptian memory:

"Your old secret, O mother of secrets/ They are preparing for Rome and preparing for Tatars/ A guide to your enemies is a cloud of fire/ For your beloved ones, your lamp/ Before time, a time before it/ The light came here and tied its rope/ On the hearts that met/ And they walked in the way of you.”

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