Dawn of a New Day (1964) Youssef Chahine Season

July 9th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Youssef Chahine | Drama, Egypt

Dawn of a New Day has been described as Sirkian. In reality this glossy sixties colour moral tale bears a stronger resemblance to Antonioni; while the cast of overdressed, big-haired women foreshadow Almodovar, the backdrop here is Cairo rather than Buenos Aires.

Stage star Sanaa Gamil is a formidable protagonist, unhappily married to an indolent mercenary husband – played by director Chahine himself – who, it is suggested, forced the 40 year-old into an abortion that plainly leaves a huge hole in her heart, filled by an affair with a 22 year-old lad.

This moral tale makes no bones about her selfishness and venality, Chahine’s much-vaunted social conscience is implied by the offhand way she treats her servants in a parable that leaves us with a hopeful message: each day brings a new dawn, so never lose faith in the future. @Richard Chatten

Drama & Desire: The Films of Youssef Chahine – BFI Southbank season

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