Egyptian cinema continues to occupy a predominant role in Arab cinema as the biggest movie producer in the Arab-speaking world. This is partly due to its seniority and the position of Egypt as an intermediary between the Maghreb and the Middle East. Originally introduced by cosmopolitan circles, cinema in Egypt has been advanced by businessmen lured by its commercial gains. By 1917, the Egyptian film industry had grown to about 80 theaters throughout the country. The first Egyptian feature film to be released was ‘Leila’, which was directed by Wedad Orfi in 1927. Gradually, the movie industry extended to include different genres such as the melodrama and farce.
Egyptian cinema in the Thirties and Forties became synonymous with musicals, which is a typically Egyptian genre. Musicals, which have been around since the beginning of the talkies, became immensely popular throughout the Arab world. Indeed, some authors (in this instance, Jacques Levy) go as far as to say that the birth of Egyptian cinema does not date from 1927 and ‘Leila’, but with the 1933 film ‘White Roses’ directed by Mohamed Karim. This movie, which featured songs starring Mohamed Abdel Wahab, 'the singers of kings and princes', ran for about fifty six weeks in Alexandria. But one wonders why these kinds of movies enjoyed such massive success with the Egyptian public.
Tags: Egyptian cinema, Arab cinema, cosmopolitan circles, White Roses, Mohamed Abdel Wahab
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