“THE SQUARE”— The Egyptian Revolution

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The Egyptian Revolution

Amos Lassen

The Hollywood Reporter says that “The Square” is a “riveting firsthand account of the Egyptian revolution presented with remarkable immediacy and filmmaking skill “. It is considered by many to be a definitive film and it is one of the most honored documentaries of 2013 it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards. It also won three Emmy Awards at the 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, out of four for which it was nominated.

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We see the revolutions from its roots in Tahrir Square. This new edition has over 90 minutes of exclusive never-before-seen footage and scenes and it gives more insight to some of the key principals of the Film. The Blu-Ray is in stunning 1080 p HD and has a powerful surround sound audio feature.

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Director Jehane Noujaim made a masterpiece and risked her life to bring this story to the world.The film follows a variety of revolutionaries as they take to Cairo’s Tahrir Square from 2011-2013 to protest the rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, then the military, and finally the newly elected President Mohamed Morsi. We sense the intimacy and immediacy as the film charts the rebellious efforts of three friends: twenty-something Ahmed Hassan, who preaches social unity and freedom; ”Kite Runner” actor Khalid Abdalla, who advocates reshaping the underlying government apparatus as a means of affecting real, lasting change; and Magdy Ashour, whose allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood (and their goals of creating an Islamic state) is complicated by his support for nonviolent and equitable rule of law.

We watch as the rebels gain power and it is stunning to see the aerial shots of the masses at Tahrir Square’s masses calling for Mubarak’s to be ousted and then later kneeling and praying in unison. We see the important and vital role that such geographic centers play in bringing citizens together, as well as in fostering political and cultural upheaval and transformation. Noujaim’s handheld footage amid clashing protestors and military also shocks the eyes, especially when at one point when the cameraman suffers taser assaults. There is a visceral intensity that captures the lethal brutality that was faced by the film’s subjects and by millions of others.

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We see YouTube videos of torture victims and caught-in-the-moment footage of military tanks running over civilians. There is absolutely no sugarcoating and we feel part of the experience as we watch.

This is “a blistering portrait of rebellion against social discord, marginalization and oppression, and a call to arms for true democratic ideals of dignity, justice, and fairness”. Even today true victory and harmony are still elusive in Egypt and the country is as divided as ever before, but now on the precipice of civil war between those for and against turning Egypt into an Islamic state. This is made plain by a coda detailing the post-Morsi fates of Ahmed and Magdy—a final note that lends the film’s plea for a better future resound with equal measures of hope, fear, and despair. The military and police opened fire on the large throngs of protestors and showed no mercy in their treatment of those they viewed as lawbreakers and traitors. It is very hard to watch the efficiency of the army in their all-out campaign against the protestors.

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Noujaim immerses us in the Egyptian revolution with incredible footage of the people’s occupation of Tahrir Square, the violent attacks on the protesters, and the non-stop arguments about the best means to bring about true political change in Egypt.

Jehane Noujaim shares what she hopes viewers of “The Square” will take away from their experience of the documentary: “We hope to bring you a close, immediate look at what we see as the civil rights movement of our time; to see why the rights that we hold dear must continue to be fought for — on the streets of Cairo, to Turkey, to Syria, the U.S. and around the world; to see what it means to fight for what our characters call ‘a new society of conscience’ for the 21st century.”

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