EFP Cannes
22 August 2017

The Traveller (first feature)

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The Traveller (Al Mosafer)

The Traveller (Al Mosafer)

original title:

AL MOSAFER

directed by:

cast:

Omar Sharif, Cyrine AbdelNour, Khaled El Nabawy

screenplay:

cinematography:

editing:

Tamer Ezzat

set design:

Onsy Abusif

music:

Fathy Salama

producer:

production:

Maxus Production, Ministry of Culture of Egypt, Egyptian Culture Development Fund

country:

Egypt/Italy

year:

2009

film run:

125'

format:

colour

festival & awards:

Ahmed Maher's first feature film is a deftly constructed, beautifully gauged work centred on the life of one man during three very different years of his life: 1948, 1973 and 2001. These dates have a historical resonance all their own – especially for a protagonist who is an Arab and an Egyptian. But Maher only uses these years as backdrops, and his film concentrates entirely on the personal. Yet the event that involves Hassan (Khaled El Nabawy) in the first episode of The Traveller has immense repercussions throughout the rest of his life, much as the events of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War set the stage for the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the terror attacks on New York in 2001. However, politics is the last thing on the minds of Maher's characters. In the first episode of the film, Hassan is a telegraph operator newly arrived in Port Said whose first job is to deliver a telegram to the city's renowned beauty, Noura (Cyrine Abdelnour), from her lover. Hassan arrives on the ship where she is staying, and is mistaken for the lover by the vessel's captain. Besotted by Noura's beauty, he is unable to control himself, and the consequences of his deeds reverberate throughout his life in completely unexpected ways. Maher details this outcome in the two very subtle episodes that follow. In mid-life, Hassan receives a call from a woman who sounds exactly like Noura, continuing a narrative that does not end until he reaches old age. In the late stages of his life, Hassan, now played by the incomparable Omar Sharif, is finally brought face to face with his past and what he did as a young man.