Nasser’s Republic, The Making of Modern Egypt”
The Heart of Modern Egypt
Gamal Abdel Nasser I considered by many to be the heart of modern Egypt and in this documentary, filmmaker Michal Goldman details Nasser’s rise to power in 1952, the Six-Day War with Israel in 1967 and his death in September of 1970 from a massive heart attack. The legacy of these 18 years as president of Egypt are still felt today. Nasser is the person who remade a post-war Egypt into a nation that is at the center of the Middle East.
Goldman took four years to assemble, not only the history of Nasser, but to conduct numerous interviews with scholars, Islamists, secularists and the people of the street. When we put all of this together, we get a fascinating look at modern Egypt and the man who made it what it became.
This is the first film for an American audience about one of the Arab world’s most transformative leaders. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Gamal Abdel Nasser became a symbol of Arab progress and dignity. From 1952 to 1970, he challenged Western hegemony abroad, confronted Islamism at home, and faced deep divisions among the Arabs. He also established the region’s first military authoritarian regime. Nasser was a man of enormous charisma and ambition but he Nasser had begun a revolution he could not complete. Nonetheless, his dreams, dilemmas and decisions continue to shape the current generation.
Goldman began work on this project before the January 2011 uprisings in Egypt and continued filming through General Sisi’s first year in power. During this period of turmoil, Egyptians argued with passion about their history as a way to see what course to follow in the future. It is their voices; the voices of peasants and professors, secularists and Islamists that drive this thus allowing us to see the multiculturalism that is Egypt.
In 1952, as an unknown young Egyptian colonel, Nasser led a coup that became a revolution. Over the next 18 years he challenged Western hegemony abroad, confronted Islamism at home, and faced deep divisions among the Arabs, yet he emerged as a champion of Arab progress and African liberation. However, he could not offer democracy and so instead, he established the region’s first and much emulated military authoritarian regime. But Nasser became “caught in the coils of his own power” and died at 52 with many dreams unrealized. His legacy became the Arab Spring and its aftermath are his legacy.
Between 2011 and 2015 Egypt experienced a period of turmoil, Egyptians argued about their history as a way to see what course to follow in the future. It is their voices that drive Egypt and this film.
Through rare archival material, new interviews and narration by actress Hiam Abbas, we find invaluable resources for historians, students and scholars. We see a myriad of contradictions and are left with many open-ended questions but we also clearly see that Nasser’s story remains at the heart of Egypt’s struggles.
The storyline is fresh and the archival footage is gripping as are the witnesses who drive the story. This is a “ compelling tale of shrewd political maneuverings, idealism and, at times, sadness. This regime’s echoing impacts on the Middle East will hit home for viewers.”