After Afrah El Obba received so much praise this Ramadan, we decided to share with you other works of art based on Naguib Mahfouz’s novels. The brilliant Nobel Prize winner wrote some of the best novels in modern literature. Those novels, in turn, got turned into beautiful films and series, which remain timeless classics. Here are our absolute favorite movies and series based on Naguib Mahfouz’s work.
Al Qahera Al Gedeeda (1945)
This Naguib Mahfouz classic tells the tragic tale of anti-hero Mahgoub Abdel Dayem, who comes from an impoverished family. Mahgoub is eventually offered a job at the ministry office, as well as a marriage proposal to the beautiful Ihsan. Since Mahgoub has a twisted look on virtue, how far will he go to fulfill his ambitions, when the minister makes the most indecent of proposals? This was made into a movie titled Al Qahera 30 in 1966, starring Soad Hosny as Ihsan, Ahmed Mazhar as the Minister and Hamdy Ahmed as Mahgoub.
“Naguib beautifully details the lives of the book’s characters as history unfolds, changing everything in the wake of wars and revolutions”
Thulathiyat Al Qahera (1956)
This trilogy is one of the most frequently adapted works of Naguib Mahfouz. It stars three generations of the same family, starting with Al Sayyid Ahmed Abdel Jawad, otherwise known as “Si Al Sayyid”. He rules his house with an iron fist, allowing only himself full liberties to live a life of debauchery if he so chooses (and he does). Naguib beautifully details the lives of the book’s characters as history unfolds, changing everything in the wake of wars and revolutions. This trilogy consists of Bein Al Qasrein, Qasr Al Shouq and Al Sukkariyah. The three novels inspired movies, plays, and TV series. The movies were made in 1962, 1967 and 1973. Yehia Shaheen starred as Si Al Sayyid, Abdelmoniem Ibrahim as Yassin, Amaal Zayed as El Sitt Amina, and many more stars who brought the characters to life.
Bedaya wa Nehaya (1958)
This novel is a true heart-wrenching one. The events unfold when a middle class Egyptian family is suddenly left without any means of income when the father dies. How the siblings in the family make a living can range from honest work to the most illegal, immoral acts; their choices decide their fate. In 1960, this novel was turned into a movie starring Omar Sharif as Hasanein, Farid Shawky as Hassan, and Amaal Farid as Baheya.
“Anis Zaki, the man around whom the whole story revolves, is a man whose sole interest is to smoke hashish with his friends on a houseboat, thus, explaining the title”
Tharthara Fawq Al Nile (1966)
The main character isn’t always the good guy. This is something which Naguib Mahfouz got us used to. In this novel, Anis Zaki, the man around whom the whole story revolves, is a man whose sole interest is to smoke hashish with his friends on a houseboat, thus, explaining the title; their chit-chats on their houseboat in the Nile. As the story progresses, drugs take over his life, delivering him to an extremely difficult position. The book was said to be full of allegories regarding Egypt and the politics of that time. It was made into a movie in 1971 starring Ahmed Ramzy as Ragab Al Qady, Magda El Khatib as Samara and Emad Hamdy as Anis Zaki.
Alsemman Wal Khareef (1962)
Another anti-hero! Alsemman Wal Khareef revolves around Eissa Al Dabbagh, on whom the 1952 revolution took its toll, as he was released from his position due to his corruption. As the world changes around Eissa, he needs to find his way. This book was made into a movie in 1967, starring Mahmoud Morsi as Eissa Al Dabbagh, and a TV series in 1978 with Kamal El Shennawy as Eissa El Dabbagh.
“the fact that neither a time nor a place is determined for where these events take place adds to the mystery and fantasy of this novel”
Hadith Al Sabah Wal Masaa (1987)
One of the more recent novels by Naguib, its intricate story-telling, detailing the lives of intriguing characters spanning between the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, is a true page turner. This novel got turned into a series in 2001, starring Laila Elwi as Huda Hanem, Ahmed Khalil as Atta El Marakeeby and an all-star cast, featuring Amr Waked in one of his earliest performances as El Naqshabandy.
El Harafeesh (1977)
A true epic, El Harafeesh tells the story of 10 different generations of the same family. The mysticism in the stories is not lost on most of its readers. And the fact that neither a time nor a place is determined for where these events take place adds to the mystery and fantasy of this novel. Due to its richness, many movies and series were based upon El Harafeesh. The most famous of these is El Tout Wel Nabbout, in 1986 starring Ezzat El Alaily as Ashour El Nagy and Samir Sabry as Fayez El Nagy. The series Al Seera Al Ashoureya starring Nour El Sherif as Ashour El Nagy is another one of our favorite adaptations, done in 2002.