Well off widow working Mother “Mona” is struggling raising 6 kids at different ages ranging from elementary school to University graduating students. The day she thinks to bring a new husband home proves to be a very difficult task.
The Arabic film scene can’t get enough Faten Hamama, Egypt’s iconic living legend. She broke every law of performance with her ‘naturel’ and innocent face which brought her closer to everyone’s home. Her acting transcended the stereotypical image of women as objects of desire, or stay-at-home mothers. With her characters, women had a voice, an opinion and a crucial role in the progress of culture. Her 1975 film ‘Oridu Hallan’ (I Need a Solution) criticized the Khul divorce laws, which forbid a wife to initiate separation. Following the film’s influence, the law changed. Yes, film can change the world.
‘Empire M’, widely considered one of Egypt’s 100 most beautiful films, marked a new phase in Faten Hamama’s career. In the 1972 picture, she moved away from playing the powerless female, to the role of a woman who enjoys the same responsibilities of a man.
She plays Mona, an upper class widower with six children whose names all begin with the letter M. She works at the education ministry, her social status is well regarded by her peers and rumors abound that she may be elected as a minister.
Between her home responsibilities and the ministry’s demands, she finds little time for herself or her relationship with Ahmad (Ahmad Mazhar). For years, he’s been doing everything in his power to marry her, hinting that she needs a male presence to go through life’s hardships. As much as she enjoys his love, she resists.
She wants to focus on her children’s education but her micro-management seems to exasperate the family. Her elder son, law student Mostafa (Seif Abu Al Naga), revolts. Using his siblings’ complaints, they attempt to break free from their mother, whom they depend on financially. Now they have to democratically elect a new leader to be in charge. Mona takes the matter lightly, thinking it’s another pastime for her children, but soon realizes they’re serious.
The film opens with a young Mona convincing her parents of her right to choose the man she’ll marry. It closes with a similar sentiment; her children ultimately want to demonstrate their democratic right.
The film hints on the ideal way Egyptian society should and could be. The family represents the country and highlights the crucial leader’s (or mother’s in this case) role of a multi-tasked educator. Without her, the family will fall apart and she’s the only one to assess her children’s capabilities and needs. At the same time, her leadership can expand outside the house’s borders.
Based on Ihsan Abdel Quddous’ book and adapted for the screen by Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, ‘Empire M’ demonstrates Hamama’s pro-democratic views. As a supporter of the 1952 revolution, she had refused to honor Egypt’s screens because of her opposition to the domineering Free Officers regime.
Undeniably, Empire M is a must-see classic!
Director: Hussein Kamal
Writers: Ihsan Abdel Quddous (dialogue) (as Ihsan Abd al-Qudus), Ihsan Abdel Quddous (novel) (as Ihsan Abd al-Qudus)
Stars: Faten Hamamah, Ahmad Mazhar, Dawlat Abiad
Release Date: 1 July 1972 (Egypt)
Also Known As: Empire M
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 4
File size : 1.66 GiB
Duration : 1 h 48 min
Overall bit rate : 2 197 kb/s