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The Nightingale’s prayer دعاء الكروان

This film is one of the most famous ones in the Egyptian cinema, and by watching it, even if you don’t understand the language and recognize the actors, you will still be able to understand how it got so famous.

The plot deals with an issue that maybe quite unfamiliar to the western viewer, so allow me a few minutes to explain it.

In Egypt exists this belief that if a woman slept with a man who was not her husband, then she has brought dishonor upon herself and her family, this belief stems from religious believes. Even though religiously speaking the society should condemn both parties in this relationship, it happened that the woman is the only one who gets the blame, while the man mostly gets to walk away scot-free.

The movie actually proposes what was considered to be – back then- a very controversial view, that the man should be at least as guilty as the woman in this sort of a situation, and sometimes, like the case portrayed in this film, she is even a victim.

For movie’s synopsis: please click here

The movie is filled with beautiful scenes thanks to the director’s Henry Barakat’s genius. For example:

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In the beginning of the movie you’re faced with this scene where Amna is sitting in a dark corner surrounded by dark thoughts, about how to avenge her sister, somehow the outside surroundings reflect her mood and thought. Her position in the room is exactly her position in the world, she is cornered and there isn’t much she can do about it.

As a viewer you don’t get to see the engineer right away, you only get to hear his voice, and know what an evil man he is, by the narration of Amna, so you try to make a mental picture of this heartless predator whom doesn’t care if his victims live or die as long as he gets what he wants. You may imagine a cruel and ugly human being, a monster, instead you are faced later with the image of the character played by Ahmed Mazhar.

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You find that he is handsome, elegant, intelligent, comes from a respectful family. He can be considered – by those who don’t know what he does in his private life – a gentleman. Which is a very smart choice, even by today’s standards, for as we all know the outside doesn’t always reflect the inside.

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The role of Amna is played by the beautiful Faten Hamama, till this day I can’t imagine any other actress that can do a better performance than the one she portrayed.

Her feature reflects a certain innocence, which fits perfectly for the beginning of the story when Amna didn’t know a lot about how cruel human can be. Her eyes carry a glimpse of sadness, which is appropriate for the sort of fate she meets.

The character is very well written, as you get to see her develop from innocent, to vengeful, to forgiving.

I would have loved to share more about the movie, and maybe I will do that some other time, meanwhile I hope you don’t miss the chance to see this movie, and if you have seen it, please share what you think about it.


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The Nightingale’s prayer’s synopsis ملخص فيلم دعاء الكروان

Warning: spoilers

The movie tells the story of two sisters Henady and Amna, whom were forced by poverty to work as maids in two different households. Amna works for a nice family that has a daughter (Ghadeega) of similar age as Amna. Ghadeega befriends Amna in a way, and tries to teach her a little about the world that Amna has never imagined that it existed, like piano lessons and French. Ghadeega reads to Amna whom never learnt to read or write. She reads her stories about love and betrayal.

Henady on the other hand works for the agricultural engineer for this small town, later you find our that he seduced Henady to sleep with him, and she was pregnant. Henady’s mother ashamed and abhorred calls her brother to pegs him to take her and his nieces back to their village, he does come for them, but for different purpose, on their way home he kills Henady, and order her mother and sister not to cry over her, as she brought this on herself.

Amna vows to take vengeance for her murdered sister from the Henady’s previous employer, whom she considered to be the main cause of Henady’s death.

She get to work for him, as he is always in need for a new maid, for he likes the change that allows him temporarily to forget the boredom of his everyday life.

Amna tried to kill him, but she fails, as she finds out, that killing someone, even if you do hate him, is a difficult thing to do. So, instead, she takes an advice from a friend, that suggest to make him fall hopelessly in love with her, and then leaves him, that way he may lose all hope of life and maybe even kill himself, like a previous lover of this friend have done.

Amna uses this new trick, but it backfires, instead they fall in love with each other, so in love that he proposes to marry her, and she then confesses that she can never accept his proposal, to her misery and his, because of what he did to her sister.

The movie ends with Amna’s uncle finding her working for the same man whom caused Henady to lose her honor, he assumes that Amna lost hers, and for that she must die.

He attempts to shoot her, but the engineer puts himself between Amna and her uncle, offering his life to save her, which he believe is the only gift he can give that would reconcile them.