(1961, Egy, 78 min) Dir Ezzel El-Hamed. Cast Omar Sharif, Soad Hosny.
A bizarrely fantastical film from El-Hamed, best known for his street level social realist dramas, starring the soon to be world-famous Sharif and the “Cinderella of Egyptian cinema” Hosny. Based on the scraps of poetry remaining of the “Desert Poet” known rather mysteriously as only Ibn or “son of”. Sharif plays an unnamed nomad who, one night in an unfamiliar country, spies a similarly unnamed princess in the high tower of her father’s palace and falls instantly in love. But, as is the way with such things, her father isn’t big on their union and summons a man of magic to transform his daughter into something else rather than have her endure a relationship with a commoner. This man of magic, for reasons best known to himself, decides that a moth would be a good idea and thus she is confined to an exquisite glass cage in that form. Of course it breaks and she escapes and Sharif is accordingly doomed to spend the rest of his life searching as far and as wide as he can to try to find the one moth that he loves. It looks as though his life’s search will be in vain when, as an old man, he collapses at the foot of an impassable dune, his eyes closing in the face of an oncoming storm. When he opens them again however he finds himself on the moon – his beloved princess has travelled there in the night, to the brightest object in the sky, where she transforms back for him and the two of them kiss, as young again as they were when they met. A beautiful tale well told and the fact that it plays out in near silence is a definite boon considering the expressiveness of the leads.